It’s been a while since I put new photos of my other hens on the blog. You may remember how Dot, Ethel and Poppy looked when they first arrived in 2009, a very sorry sight. Just look at them now!
Hover over the photos to see who is who!
Becki crept into this photo (front right inspecting the grass for something wriggly) she has bonded well with this group after losing her pal Hope. These 4 girls were all challenged in their own way, some still are and because of this they do better in their own group rather than being mixed with the bigger and stronger Lily and Emily. It just works out better this way and everyone’s happy.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on March 8, 2011
Keeping chickens in the garden is rewarding and can be educational too if you have young children helping with their day-to-day needs. But, as with all animals, from time to time chickens can become ill. Apart from the classic signs that a chicken is unwell – fluffed up feathers, hunched posture, eyes closed etc you may be surprised to hear that chicken droppings can reveal quite a bit about their current health. So, the next time you check on your flock take time to inspect their droppings.
I realise this may sound unpleasant but believe me you could identify a potential health problem just by recognising what an abnormal chicken dropping looks like. You should also get to know what healthy droppings look like too, they come in an array of colours and textures. Try inspecting droppings as part of your daily routine, this way you will get to know your flock (and their poo) a little better!
Examples of healthy droppings:
Examples of problem droppings:
I will add photos of interest to this post as they occur. All the above photos were taken by me and produced by my chickens. Just as a pointer, droppings to be concerned about are as follows:
Vivid yellow, frothy, green, runny, mainly white or clear runny, bright red blood (not to be confused with normal shedding of gut lining) and regular droppings containing visible undigested grain/food.
If I find a dodgy dropping I keep a good eye on the hens for signs of ill-health, if I do suspect there may be a problem or if I just want to put my mind at ease I contact Retfords Poultry Ltd. They provide a faecal testing service to check for presence of parasites and bacteria. Using this service literally saved one of my hens from certain death. It’s so easy to use, just pop the suspect dropping into a suitable container (screw top lid may be advisable!) and post it off with a covering note. Most good avian vets can also provide this service.
Chickens tend to show the same symptoms/characteristics for many different illnesses, even normal ‘egg issues’ such as soft-shelled eggs can make them appear unwell and give you cause for concern. Being able to identify an abnormal chicken dropping is handy knowledge to have.
Happy poopy peeking :)
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on January 19, 2011
It’s been a while since I last updated my poor neglected blog – I know, I’m crap! I’m sorry to report a few more losses within the flock, sadly Rose and Dolly have passed away so this now leaves 6 hens here at the garden smallholding. At the moment they are all getting along just fine and just starting to come into lay again. Bringing more hens in at this point would probably cause unnecessary stress and problems for them, to be honest I could do without the hassle. Six laying hens are plenty for our needs.
The vegetable garden was a hit and miss during the harsh weather, the good old leeks, garlic and parsnips survived their blanket of snow and ice, but the young peas and winter onions are all but a distance memory. Never mind, I can always get going again with the peas, the onions can wait. Besides, I still have some left in store from summer so all is good.
So how have YOU all been doing with your winter growing (if you did any) and your chickens?
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on January 18, 2011
Little Hen Rescue is a Norfolk based poultry rescue, rescuing and re-homing battery hens, barn hens and other types of poultry including turkeys, geese and ducks. Little Hen Rescue currently have a large number of ex battery hens waiting for good homes, the space is needed to be able to carry out further planned rescues. Could you offer a pet home for some deserving ex battery hens? If you think you can, or you are in need of more information please contact Little Hen Rescue through their website:
Homes are what Little Hen Rescue really need at the moment, there are other ways of helping by spreading the word elsewhere – advertising in your local vets for example would be very helpful. Perhaps you feel you would like to offer a small donation? Donations are always gratefully received by Little Hen Rescue to help cover food, medical and transport costs. Little Hen Rescue is a non-profit organisation, they exist simply to improve the lives of current UK laying hens. They will from time to time take in other poultry where space allows.
On behalf of Little Hen Rescue, thank you for reading this appeal.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on September 15, 2010
This morning Auntie Marge passed away, she developed a mass on her side and went downhill very suddenly. She was a sorry-looking soul when she first arrived here from the battery farm but she soon feathered up, becoming quite the greedy character. She adored her food and often took herself to bed with a crop fit to burst! So many BIG characters have gone these past few months, I miss them all very much.
Goodbye my sweet Auntie Marge xx
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on September 11, 2010
Since my last post (which was quite some time ago) I have sadly lost 2 further hens, my beloved Hope and then Chrissie. Hope developed egg yolk peritonitis and went down hill very suddenly while Chrissie (who had battled so long with a mass in her abdomen) lost her long fight – and what a fight she fought. To say I have so much respect for my hens is an understatement. I never regret having given them that chance.
So, I guess you can forgive me for not keeping the blog updated?! I have been too sad to post about recent goings on and couldn’t summon the will to do it. On another sad note I have another hen that is giving me nightmares, so we shall see how things go with her. All of my hens have had a good bash at life, but as anyone who keeps these fantastic little blighter’s will tell you, it’s never long enough.
Oh, by the way, thank you all for the fantastic comments that have greeted me on my first return to the blog since losing Mrs N. It means so much! Keep reading, I am around and will be back to ‘veggie and henny business’ soon xx
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on September 9, 2010
Yesterday I had to say goodbye to Mrs N, she was slowing down and becoming weak and our vet agreed she possibly had kidney failure. She had just over 2 years of freedom and I know I should be satisfied with that but having a chicken for that long leaves a huge gap in the hen-house, especially so soon after losing Lizzie.
I shall miss her.
Rest in peace you beautiful girl x
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on June 19, 2010
Little Hen Rescue are in desperate need of donations. On Saturday one of the 4×4 vehicles and it’s trailer transporting newly rescued ex battery hens was involved in a freak accident resulting in part of the A14 being closed. Many hens sadly died at the scene but there are injured hens that are currently being cared for.
Donations to help with feed costs is what LHR need most, £5 would buy a sack of feed. Please, even if it’s £1 go to their website and donate all you can. LHR wouldn’t normally ask but this is an emergency.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 24, 2010
We have another ‘henniversary’ going on here, Becki and Hope, one year out of the cages today. I was a rescue co-ordinator this time last year for Little Hen Rescue and I helped to re-home just under 100 ex battery hens from my garden smallholding. I wasn’t planning on keeping any of the hens for myself, but for different reasons Becki and Hope bought a ticket to stay.
It was a rocky road for them both and reaching this milestone makes it all the more special. Happy freedom day girls!
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 23, 2010
I do enjoy chicken keeping, I’m a sucker for ex battery hens. They are affectionate (yes, they really can be) and comical creatures, the eggs are a bonus. Sometimes however, keeping chickens can be a sad affair, prompting you to question yourself – why on earth put yourself through it?
Ex battery hens can come with their health problems it’s true, but is it any wonder? Even before they are hatched their health is at risk due to bad breeding, then their destiny to a short miserable existence certainly weakens them even further. But, despite all of that, it’s not all doom and gloom. Many ex battery hens lead long, trouble-free and happy lives after rescue, I guess it’s the luck of the draw or conditions of the particular farm from which they came. If I have an ex battery girl for just a short time, I know that she experienced so much more than those that never got the chance. I do take comfort in that. In any case, regardless of type or breed of hen you keep, problems could occur from time to time.
On Sunday I found my top hen Lizzie hunched, scared and covered in blood round her rear end. After the initial shock of finding her in that state, my first fear was that she had prolapsed. After checking her over it became clear that she had been subjected to a rather nasty vent pecking session. I cleaned her up, gave her some sugared water to help combat shock, some pain relief and an antibiotic. I then promptly got her to an emergency vet. Goodness knows why chickens can do this sort of thing to each other, it’s just beyond me, but it can happen to any hen regardless of breed or history. It’s what I call the dark side of chicken keeping, taking the good with the bad and all that.
At the moment I am cleaning Lizzie’s wounds twice a day with a veterinary antiseptic and giving her pain relief and antibiotics. She is doing OK but I’m not 100% happy with her situation so I have made another vet appointment, for peace of mind if anything. I will update about her again once I know more.
Posted by The Garden Smallholder on May 5, 2010