coopandthegang

The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

Worms, Worms, Worms December 31, 2011

Well, I’ve been a little neglectful for the online side of Coop & the Gang in the last month and what a month. Following on from our earlier post wiggly worms…it happened.

Just as I thought we were settling down following lice & with the light change I’d hoped the girls were settling into a routine to see them through the darker days. On my return home from my mornings duties, Flo was getting the usual abuse & Doris was pecking mash off her beak & I thought I saw something funny in coop. A lot of rather odd looking spaghetti lengths loosely held together with some brown.

Little fork in hand, I enter coop & smuggle it out of the way, I let the girls snuffle around while I tidied up & found some treats. I found our wormer and mixed up a small amount with feed, corn & some meal worms for interest. At this point it was confirmed not to be Doris…she pooped on my carpet. It was however Flo or Mave who deposited some more spaghetti hoops on the back step. You can google yourself chicken poo with worms its gross, but I didnt find anything that came close to what we encountered.

Knowing full well that worms can destroy a hen we had medication in our kit and were 6 monthly dosing so I was surprised & a little dissapointed to see we had worms. They’d not let me know, maybe Maves moult was just covering the fact she looked dishevelled with dry mangled feathers? She’s always had a boney keel but she was putting weight back on & no one had muck around their vent which always gives a way internal issues.

A drop in egg production is a noticeable sign of worms, but also of winter. No one looked or felt underweight, depressed or full of worms. So, how did they get them? Well worms lay eggs, chickens pass eggs. Slugs & soil help the eggs hatch & the chicken eats the eggs or larvae and we get worms.

I sanitise the ground we keep coop on, I keep feed dry…we are unfortunate the Coop is in the boggy part of the garden where the soak away from the front ends, but coop is for the most part dry. We have many garden visitors who dont help, it only takes one unwormed animal to pass by and we are slug and wormy heavy…& my girls can snuffle out a slug or a worm at 10 paces. They’ll tear around the garden just to ensure its theirs and despite a constant supply of fresh water they do like the rain waters that gathers in oddest places I’ve never even realised I need to tip out.

Flubenvent mixed up with crumb & mash & a tiny spot of oil, smaller feeds mean the girls can’t selectively feed on non medicated food in the garden & some added nutrients in the water for seven days and no further suspicious looking passings passed, it seemed out worming routine worked and was doing exactly what it was meant to. Phew, they do like to keep me on my toes!

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Turning Chicken Poo Into Something Useful…Hopefully! August 27, 2011

I hate to say it but the girls are struggling, the temperature has dropped and the weather is less than their favourite and Mave bless her is doing her best to sunbathe when the sun does come out but Doris and Flo are snuffling under bushes and garden furniture to dodge the showers

Sunbathing Mave

I’m glad when I’m at work they are coop bound when its raining, there is nothing more sad looking than a wet chicken who smells a bit and at least I know they are dry and have somewhere warm to gather and are more likely to gather in a small space if they need to. As hardy as they are, I can’t imagine they enjoy standing around getting wet. It doesn’t help they are positioned in the soggy part of the garden, post drain problems we now believe the soak away operates at that end and it so green and secluded and lush for a reason. Not too hot, not too cold but definitely a bit boggy en route to Coop.

There is always one thing I don’t like about wet weather and chickens and that is most definitely the smell. There is no avoiding it and maybe when the weather is nicer I just see the chickens as nothing but darling, poo aside but they really smell chickenney when its damp.

While I’m pleased our chickens fertilise that patch of the garden, there is a requirement to dig the top inches of erm…debris out of the chicken coop and there is a lot of ancillary waste from bedding, daily poo pick and general muck. We rent and pocket garden in pots so we aren’t currently in a position to fully utilise the by products we find. It gets bagged and boxed and for the most part deposited at the local tip or in our brown waste bin. Granted in the 4 months they’ve been here we’ve only made one visit.

Doris: Wheres that Slug gone?

Chicken waste is excellent fertiliser, free and plentiful even in a flock of three. There are a number of choices, you can sling it, use it and add in lime to balance the acidity which isn’t practical in the potted garden. I’ll hold my hands that we have gone with the first option, due to space and our desire to live as portably as possible so as soon as life allows we are out of here, as relatively deposit proof as possible. I already plan to move the chickens first, grass the area and turf if we have to. Funds are being saved.

However this week I’ve come to find a third option which might suit our current situation. We have somewhat of a chicken club at work, our CEO, MD, our lead tender writer, head of marketing and my good self in finance all keep hens and ducks in our  various capacities, we share articles, hints, tips and keep the office in eggs. I had posed the question of waste in a confined space and it was suggested with try Garlic Powder and Bokashi Bran an instant way of neutralising droppings by the use of micro-organisms.  It sounded weird and it sounded ideal.

A quick read around and it appears that a mixture of garlic power and Bokashi Bran may solve all our problems. The garlic powder is highly rated on the forums as a good way to help reduce the smell of chicken poo and the Bokashi while high in fibre and weird little bug things will mean I can chuck it straight on the plants and if mixed myself the Bokashi can also be added to the hen house under the perches as an added oomph…the toilet block under the seat if

Snuffling Flo

you wish

I am hopeful this will help with the smell of the hen house on damp mornings. I don’t know if the chickens know how bad they smell, but if they do I’m sure it’ll bring a smile to their faces to.

So now I am off the source some Bokashi…the garlic powder can be added to the next smallholders shop in the mean time I just have to hope the chickwans chose to eat the food rather than use it as another excuse to redecorate the floor of the coop.

Wish us luck.

 

Wiggly Worms July 31, 2011

So, all quiet with Coop & the Gang. One last dusting with powder & hopefully that’s it for chicken louse for this year. It seems they’ll be back but at least next time we’ll know what to do and know the signs.

The Gang have cheered up and normally has resumed, Mave is up to her aerobatic tricks, being cheeky and generally bullying around. Doris is dust bathing daily and Flo is starting to come into her own, braving a leap to the knee for treats, but I think she knows she’ll always get a back hander from me if she doesn’t look like she wants to join in.

From Ectoparasites to Endoparasites. In our period of discomfort in the gang we noticed a lot of odd poo, chickens poo a lot but its horrific when its not quite the consistency you’re used to.We decided it was a good time to consider worming the Gang as defences with the louse were likely to be low.

There is no truer saying that prevention is always better than cure, but lets face it if there is something on the market to help you out you’d be a fool not to take it. Its important to worm poultry regularly but alongside that managing the hen house and coop alongside that goes along way. Keep things clean, dry and using your common sense can prevent the heartache of a poorly bird, worms can destroy the digestive system of a chicken and indeed in turn the chicken itself. & If your birds get worms, they’ll cost you a fortune to feed and laying may be reduced.

Oddly there is only licensed chemical wormer on the market, Flubenvet, its mixed with feed in a daft ratio, but comes with a handy scooper and whoever you purchase it from will require your name and address. There are plenty of other products out there for other animals that research on the internet has seen that Vets will offer but they’ve not been licensed for poultry and the herbal alternatives appear to only reduce worm numbers rather than remove worms completely.

As this is our first flock we’re doing the best we can first time, so a trip to the farm store and £18+Vat later I was the proud owner of Flubenvet. Now what the hell do I do? Its a white powder and feed them bulky food? Layers pellets were not the answer. So you run to the local petshop and find a suitable alternative feed, conveniently in 3Kg doses so you can mix half the scoop in and know they’re getting the right amount.

You end up with chickcrumb, designed for pullets…6-8 weeks is the latest they should be on crumb, but you’re babies are sicky and you still like to eat rusks so its okay. I lined up my three varying sized Tupperware to mix the half scoop into a small amount, mix into the next Tupperware with the larger amount and then finally into the big one for a good old shake about. I sterilised our second feeder so we started a fresh and the girls knew I meant business.

It went down a storm. Mave had her beak clipped as a chick to mark she was trouble, its still not fully regrown, its getting stronger and we’re on the right track but she does find it harder than the other two to eat, clean and drink with the disadvantage. But they loved it, no fuss at breakfast, no kicking the feeder about and no pooing in it! Hurrah.

This continued for 7 days, on Flubenvet there needs to be no withdraw from eggs which is handy as there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing good eggs go to waste, it brings a tear to the eye. The flock seem happier and I am please we tried it. Its recommended to rework in 6 months time, so I’ll make a note in the diary to do it all again then.

In the mean time, its back to pellets…and the girls aren’t overly impressed. But that’s another blog for another day.

 

The P Word & Essential Maintenance May 22, 2011

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 8:14 am
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Its time to talk about poo, as much as I’d love to tell you my chickwans wear top hats, scarves and waistcoats and take their baskets to town every day, these aren’t chickens from a Beatrix Potter book…They live in Coop in my back garden.

They eat, sleep and drink where they poo and they poo where they eat, sleep and drink! Chickens aren’t naturally clean animals, they go where the fancy takes them, quite literally. But this aside Chickens really are a most rewarding pet for very little maintenance.

A daily and weekly routine is essential but very workable into daily life. It starts when it times to get up, they’re normally very ready to come out of the house and have a snuffle around the garden, all the doors are opened and Coop gets a good airing. A general poo pick is done from the run, the hen house and nest box. Real life chickens do not discriminate in their excrement and it is essential to remove them as a means of stopping any disease in the flock spreading or eggs fouling. Because the Chickwans eat what they want when they want the droppings and chippings are very suitable for adding to your compost and improving your soil quality.

I put the feeder on the lawn to keep them amused and away from the coop a while. Its also a good means of keeping me associated in their minds with food and allows for a good ‘pet’ of the more social hens. I have a brush of the nooks and crannies in the hen house keeping and eye out of chicken mites…which will come, no matter how proficient you are with chicken husbandry. So far, so good for Coop and the Gang but I’m not going to be lazy about it. The feeder and fresh water are placed strategically in the Coop so they’re protected should the weather turn and with sufficient room for the girls to get around.

We all go about our daily lives and regroup of an evening, where during the evening stretch of the legs or after they’ve put themselves to bed I have a good sweep out of the downstairs, remove food and water for the night. Mostly so we don’t attract any other four legged friends. We have a pick out of unnecessaries in the feeder and throw the water on the veggies and the routine starts again the very next day.

Hay for the nest box, straw for the bottom of the run, chippings for the henhouse and grit are topped up whenever required and changed in the weekly clean out alongside a good once over, a brush, a spray and a deep clean of the feeder and water and takes no more than about twenty minutes, its normally a lot quicker when there isn’t someone, who shall remain nameless, shutting you in the coop or taking pictures of you while you’re buried to the waist in the hen house.

A top to toe deep clean, air and repair is to be scheduled every 6 months and we’ve started a list of things we’d like to change and improve about Coop and hope over the summer while the weather is good and the gang can snuffle around the garden to get most of these done.

The gang in the most part are grateful of your efforts and it takes them about 10 minutes to destroy all your hardwork and make it theirs again but they really do fit in around what you can do when, keep the routine and the housekeeping up and your chickens really do reward you ten fold.