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New Duck House!

2015 new duck house

“Ooh – roomy!”

With Dotty and Lilly firmly entrenched, their new duck house finally arrived from Green Frog Designs. We’ve used one for the geese for a few years now, and know it’s a cracking bit of kit, so we’ve bought another. The expense of plastic will work out over the years through lack of maintenance needed and longevity of the material. It will probably outlast us!

Here’s Dotty checking it out for approval, before we’d even added the ramp! They’re both mixing with the boys quite well now, but we’re still going to keep them seperate during the night as the boys will become quite nasty next spring, and it won’t be fair on the girls. They’re managing two eggs a day, which is wonderful – apparently Khaki Campbells will lay around 300 eggs a year each, which is fantastic! To that end we’ve started them on layers pellets – the same we give the hens, as we know it doesn’t contain Coccidiostats – something water fowl can’t cope with. They also get some mixed corn in a bowl overnight, along with sand to help them digest their food. They also get a small bowl of mixed grit and shells, although the layers pellets should, in theory, have enough calcium in it for their egg shell production. It just feels good to give them something more natural to do with their time, foraging for stones and shells rather than giving it in pellet form.

The plan is to move them, once settled, into the veggie patch so they can get to work on those pesky pearl slugs! Yay!

2015 larry carried

Carry me, slave.

And just for the sake of it – here’s another photo of Larry relaxing!

Red Mite cause Chicken Holiday

Whilst visiting friends, they asked for some advice on their flock. Their coop had contracted red mite in a very bad way – and the housing was covered, but despite all attempts, the little blighters kept coming back.

We had a quick look and promptly offered to give the chooks a holiday at Merrybower, on clean ground and in clean houses. Seeing nothing else to give us great alarm, we knew it was highly unlikely the red mites would be on the birds during daylight hours whilst outside, so we wouldn’t be transferring any to our gaff.

2015 holiday chooks 2

Seven Warrens (one is laying inside)

On arrival, we put six, including Colin the cock, in a spare Eglu Cube, and seven in a spare Green Frog Designs Livestock Ark, which we used for chicks last year. We started them on a seven day course of Flubenvet, which was given ready-mixed in Marriage’s Farmyard Layers Pellets with integrated Flubenvet. Whilst they were caged in their runs, this would ensure they got a good worming dose. Noticing a bird with runnyish poos, we also gave them a three day course of Tylan Soluble antibiotic – 0.5g for every litre of water, mixed fresh every 24 hours. Noticing some also had scaly leg mite, we also dropped a spot of Ivermectin on the back of the neck of all of them, and will repeat that in three weeks’ time.

We think the big difference was the food. It’s possible that they’d been put off eating the food in their old coop because of the mite association, but for whatever reason, they tucked into the Marriage’s pellets like there was no tomorrow! They’re also going through the moult, which is a tough time for any bird. To help them along with that they had our special mix of mashed potato, live yoghurt, cod liver oil and poultry spice. It stinks, but boy do they love it! And the difference a few days later is amazing – they’re more relaxed and look much perkier, despite still looking rather bedraggled with their old feathers still intact.

2015 holiday chooks 1

Colin, three Warrens and, we think, a Light Sussex hen and a Buff Orpington hen.

For any regulars reading this, Colin the cock is actually one of our boys bred last year, so he’s returned home! We haven’t mentioned this, but Red, his brother that we kept, was killed by a fox this spring. It was an upsetting thing for us all, made worse in that he was the last in the bloodline of our flock. But with Colin here we might be able to ‘borrow’ him for another brood next year, if all goes well. We still don’t know Colin as well as we knew Red, who was very gentle, but none of us have been pecked by Colin, even when handling him and his ladies for scaly leg mite, so it looks promising so far.