Friday, 27 June 2014

An Interview with a Vampire - Being a Red Mite

We had a customer recently bring a small jar into the Flyte so Fancy shop with a question as to what the small brown crawly insects were that they had found in their chicken coop during their weekly clean. The small brown crawly thing was quickly and efficiently identified as the pestilential poultry predator, the Red Mite. It was not red as it had not had a chance to feed, the blood drawn giving it it's distinctive red colour.

Sensing a rare opportunity, I quickly grabbed my Dictaphone, set up two chairs and the obligatory pitcher of water, tested the sound levels for my interview, and settled in to ask the hard questions, a la Jeremy Paxman guest hosting Countryfile.

Flyte so Fancy Red Mite
An Interview with a Vampire
Good Day, thank you for joining us. 

My pleasure.

You are of course a red mite. Getting straight to it, perhaps you could start by telling us a little about your upbringing. Did your descent into crime start at an early age or was it a conscious decision?

Well can I just clear something up that has been bugging me (pardon the pun) for quite some time now, Red Mite and Red Spider Mite are completely different things. Those harmless garden bugs have nothing on us parasites. 

Well to begin with I was an egg for around three days, which was certainly pleasant enough. When nesting conditions are just right we Red Mite can go from being laid as an egg to hatching in around three days. Interestingly we can go from egg to chicken biting adults in just seven days, meaning we can fill a hen house nice and quickly when we want too. Pretty impressive I think you'll agree.

Indeed, and I heard an interesting fact the other day that you can survive without eating for a considerable time. 

100% true. it's 8 months.

Incredible, a red mite can survive eight whole months without feeding and I cant make it past breakfast. So, your eggs are laid and you live in the cracks and crevices of hen houses. It is of course common knowledge that you Red Mite enjoy the warmer weather but how can I tell if you're staying the night in my coop?

Well we're not particularly morning people, I'm murder before I've had a coffee and we're usually pretty easy to see first thing, especially when we're filled to the brim with blood. Also if you see a build up of grey dust in your coop, that's probably us. We love a party but we're not usually one for cleaning up our detritus after ourselves. Of course if your hen is looking lethargic, its probably because I've been enjoying a gourmet dinner. After awhile anemia can set in for some birds.

And is there anywhere where I should look for you specifically?

Oh, well we like to be cosy, so under perches and in perch sockets. Some of us prefer to hide in the dust of the floor of the coop and in the joints, but we're never far away. Never have been one for a long commute. 

Interesting, you clearly take a great deal of pride in your work. But I wonder, if I may, to enquire about fame? How has it changed you? You are not of course the most popular of insects?

Well its hard to compete with ladybirds that's for sure.

Understandably, they are adorable. Maybe you could tell us a little more about any abuse, verbal or physical, that you might have suffered?

Well first of all, are the Red Mite Liquids. Your Poultry Shields and your Total Mite Kills. Tsunami waves that not only destroy the organic matter we live in but when it comes into contact with our hard outer shells causes dehydration and death. 

So you think this is unfair treatment?

Well its no where near as bad as what follows. Diatomaceous Earth. After our homes have been washed away, this terrible powder is sprinkled all over the coop. It might just look like powder to you but to us it is giant crystalline structures that scratch and scrape away our protective shells. 

I have recently heard of successful tests and uses of hen house fumers recently. 

Those are completely against Red Mite Rights and I have heard of populations up and down the country decimated by these effective red mite killers. 

Just a few final questions to wrap things up. Do Red Mite live on humans?

No, but I might have a bite if you're passing.

I've heard plastic hen houses prevent red mite. Your thoughts?

Oh I'm happy to hang my hat anywhere, if there is somewhere to hide. Plastic hen houses can get quite hot and humid which we all love for living in. 

Well a fascinating guest, thank you for your time. Perhaps you can just give us a hint at your next big project?

I'm sorry no. Sworn to secrecy. Ask me back next year. 


A fascinating interview with a Red Mite. We're currently trying to book a parasitic worm for next week. His agent is holding us up on price though. Typical.


Thanks for Reading
James






Wednesday, 25 June 2014

What are the Best Products for Getting Rid of Red Mite?

It's that time of year once again, where the sun comes out, the birds sing in the trees and the tiny vampires known as red mite appear as if by magic, to plague the chicken keepers of Great Britain. This perennial pest strikes everyone eventually, regardless of if their coop is timber, plastic or metal and so the Flyte so Fancy chicken blog has dragged its attention away from the ducklings wending their way back and forth across the pond and looks instead at the best products for getting rid of red mite.

Prevention

Preventing red mite taking a hold in your coop is, of course, always better than trying to cure an infestation. It involves a little elbow grease and working within a weekly routine of cleaning. There are a few great products available for the weekly clean that will help keep your chicken coop mite free inside.
Hen House cleaners for Red MIte
Poultry Shield and Diatom when used in conjunction are a very effective way of keeping red mite at bay. Poultry Shield is a multi purpose cleaner and sanitiser, widely recognised as the most powerful non-caustic cleaner on the market. When used liberally for cleaning inside the coop it will kill any red mite and remove any organic build up in the coop. Diatom is a 100% natural powder, which when used liberally inside the hen house will have residual red mite control, causing them to dehydrate as the microscopic shards cut their shells. It can equally be applied directly onto the birds for lice and even added to their feed for internal good health.

Flyte so Fancy Red Mite EradicationSmite liquids and powders have a similar effect when used as part of a regular weekly clean. The Smite powder has the great addition of being able to be mixed with water and painted on the areas needing treatment, as it dries it once again becomes effective and kills mites that crawl through it.

DE from Flyte so Fancy is also a natural diatomaceous powder that works by causing the red mites to dehydrate and die as they crawl through it. When applied liberally inside the coop, along perches and inside the nest box it acts as a great deterrent to red mite. As a 100% natural product it can also be applied directly to the bird to help prevent lice and fleas.

Cure

If, on a trip down to the hen house, you have seen some red mite, or suspect that there might be some inside your hen house, then it might be time to step up to the next level of red mite eradicators. Signs that you might have red mite are

  • Your girls are reluctant to go in to the coop at night.
  • A good tip to see if you have red mite is to put some Vaseline on the ends of the perches. As the mites crawl through they will become stuck and you will be able to see them in the morning. 
  • Red mites are only red after they have fed and are filled with blood giving them their colour. They tend to feed at night so if you see little brown mites crawling around your hen house during the day, then they are more than likely to be red mite.
Flyte so Fancy Chicken Coop Red Mite
The Net-Tex Total Mite Kill Range, coming in both ready to use and concentrated formulas, is a purpose made red mite killer brilliant for eradicating red mite as it contains Permethrin. When used within the house it will kill red mite, lice, fleas and also bacteria, fungi, etc. As the product contains permethrin it not only kills the red mite but has a fantastic residual effect for the coop

Equally handy for curing the plague of red mite are the Poultry Keeper Chicken House Fumers. An insecticidal fume generator for amateur use it will kill flying and crawling insects inside the coop. Easy to use, you merely place the fumer inside, close the house up tight making sure that all animals and chickens are away, then ignite. The fumer will smoke for thirty seconds to a minute. Leave the house shut up tight for around two hours then open all the doors and windows to allow the fumes to disperse. Follow this up with a general clean. The fumer contains permethrin and is highly effective as a red mite killer. Coming in a twin pack, this is ideal for repeat use within a short time to break the mites breeding cycle to clear out any remaining eggs or adults. 

Infestation

Red Mite Killers from Flyte so Fancy Sometimes its possible that a swarm of red mite of biblical proportions might descend upon your hen house like a hoard of rampaging Visigoths. If that happens then it might be time to engage in chemical warfare to take the blighters down.

Ardap aerosol spray is an insecticide for amateur use, with immediate effect against crawling and flying insects, including red mite and with a residual action for up to six weeks. This should not be sprayed on to the birds nor near their feed and will effectively combat a severe infestation. An important note, this will kill all crawling insects, so do be careful not to harm the nice ones like bees and ladybugs.

Burn Your Hen House

A final option and truly the last resort. We once had a customer tell us that they moved their hen house to find a mass of crawling, writhing, wriggling red mite underneath which then began to work its way across their field. If your infestation of red mite has reached this apocalyptic level of terror, then its is worth considering if it wouldn't just be best to start afresh.

Chicken Coops
A FSF Team Member
Red Mite is a continual pest for the poultry keeper and one which must be faced with constant vigilance and a cupboard well stocked with effective red mite killers and poultry disinfectants and cleaners. With an organised cleaning regime and the correct use of red mite products the problem can easily be solved. As always, if you have any questions you can always call us on 01300 345229 or email info@flytesofancy.co.uk or leave a comment on the blog below.


Thanks for Reading
James

Friday, 20 June 2014

Top Tips on Happy Chicken Keeping

This week, I have been spending my time down in the chicken field and out on the lawn taking new photo instructions for our ever popular Long Legged Maggie's Dozen Hen House. As such there is a guest blogger this week, none other than the overseer of the FSF Team, the hen at the top of the pecking order, the queen bee herself, Anne. 


While James is out enjoying himself in the sunshine and managing to find a seemingly endless supply of ice creams to eat while doing his work, I have been left with the job of writing this weeks blog. As I sat suffering writers block and knowing that James will pick up on any incorrect use of their, there and they're as quickly and smugly as possible, I answered the phone to have a long conversation with a lady who has just started keeping some hens in Wiltshire and was looking for a little advice. An idea for my blog entry soon followed, 6 Top Tips on Happy Chicken Keeping

1. Hen Houses - Buy the Best
  • When purchasing your hen house, you get what you pay for. Like most things, its a question of value for money.
  • Everyone will be looking for different things, but ask questions like; Does this hen house have a practical and accessible layout? Will it be easy for me to clean? Is it constructed of quality materials, be it timber or plastic. 
  • Is the hen house sturdy and strong against the elements and most importantly is it fox proof
Flyte so Fancy Chicken Coop
Long Legged Maggie's Hen House
2. Health and Hygiene - Cleanliness is Next to Godliness 
  • To keep your hens healthy and the chicken coop in its best condition, you should ideally be doing a thorough clean weekly. 
  • Make sure that you are changing the bedding weekly, this will avoid the house smelling, dampness and avoid infections. 
  • Use a purpose made hen house cleaner like Poultry Shield and/or a proper poultry disinfectant
  • The best way to avoid future issues is to stay on top of your cleaning regime. Prevention is better than cure. 
3. Feeding your Hens - The Balanced Diet
  • Feed your chickens on a staple diet of layers pellets and mixed corn. This is essential so they get the right balance of vitamins, proteins, etc. 
  • While its nice to see their faces light up, avoid giving them too many treats, they can quickly become fat, which can have repercussions on health and egg laying. 
  •  Avoid feeding them scraps, especially dont feed them meat, dairy, cat food and fruits like pineapple or melon. One common cause of diarrhoea in hens is too many greens and scraps. 
4. Fresh Air - Natures Medicine. 
  • Its good to have somewhere for the hens to shelter from the harsher elements, but make sure that your chicken run is generally light and airy. 
  • Sunlight is needed for egg production, so make sure your girls aren't shrouded in eternal half gloom. 
5. Security - Safe as Houses.
Fox Proof Chicken Coops
Flyte Aviary Hen House
  • Make sure your chicken run is fox proof. Both urban and countryside fox numbers are on the rise.
  • Have a chicken run that is made from a tough galvanised weldmesh, not chicken wire.  
  • Electric fencing is an effective barrier against foxes (and other predators) when used. 
  • No Dig Skirts can stop foxes tunneling into your hen house, while avoiding the appearance of a gulag. 
6. Red Mite - The Pest of Pests. 
  • No matter if you have a perfect weekly cleaning regime, you must stay vigilant for red mite. Sooner or later everyone suffers from this pest but it can be eradicated if caught early. 
  • If you're worried you might have red mite in your chicken coop put some Vaseline on the end of the perches (or even something super sticky like fly paper). As the red mite crawl across they get stuck and you will be able to see them in the morning. 
  • If your chickens suddenly seem reluctant to go in their coop at night, you probably have a red mite issue. 
  • A red mite can go from egg to breeding adult in around seven days, so to break this cycle, clean your coop every five days to make sure you wipe them out. 
  • There are plenty of red mite eradication products like Diatom powder, but do make sure you keep using them to stay on top of the problem.
So, these are my 6 Top Tips on Happy Chicken Keeping. Here at Flyte so Fancy we are always happy to talk if you have a query on our phone number 01300 345229 or via email on info@flyteosfancy.co.uk or by leaving a comment on the blog. 

Flyte so Fancy Duck Houses
FSF Duck Team Members
James will be back with the blog next week, as I shall take advantage of the lovely Dorset weather for taking photos myself and make him sit inside instead. 


Wishing you Happy Hen Keeping!
Anne 

Friday, 13 June 2014

The Floating Duck Lodge

It was a bit of a surprise to all of us here at Flyte so Fancy HQ this Spring, to not only find our Bluebell Orpington sat tight on a clutch of duck eggs, a Cherry White snuggled down on her own nest of eggs in the corner of a hen house, a Cayuga protectively guarding her eggs in the Puddleduck Duck House by the pond and most interestingly a hen, rather ambitiously, sat on goose eggs. With the possibility of a whole gang of ducklings arriving at any moment, the workshop got cracking on a new floating duck house immediately. While myself, Rob the gardener and Operations Manager Rich headed down the to the Flyte so Fancy chicken field to pull the old floating island and duck houses in from the middle of the pond.

Cute little Duckling
One of Our New Arrivals
Having got the old duck float out of the pond (my role as overseer and giver of "helpful" advise being met with derision and unkind words from the other two) we waited for the arrival of the new duck house, which arrived promptly and in splendid form. The result of the workshops labours, The Floating Duck Lodge.

The timber float is packed with polystyrene so that it floats at just the right level for your ducks, although for some of the smaller breeds there is a helpful step. The hexagonal house is made from our high quality Scandinavian Redwood timber and will house six pairs of nesting ducks. With area on the float for whiling the day away, this really is a penthouse by the pool.

Duck and Goose Housing
The Floating Duck Lodge
Now, the boss Phill has always contended that a Flyte so Fancy float is so buoyant, that it can take the weight of two men and not sink. Once we had the new hexagonal float in the pond it wasn't long for the challenge to be accepted. Emptying his pockets of keys and with a little help, Operations Manager (and ex-professional rugby player) Rich was soon floating away happily on top of the pond. Quitting while we were ahead, and fearing that double black-belt chicken whisper Rob might be tempting fate, the duck housing was put into position on the float and the floating duck lodge was majestically pulled out into the middle of the pond. Where it now bobs away waiting for the ducklings, hopefully a few goslings too, to take their first swim.

video

It'll be a little while yet till our ducklings take to the pond. As they were mostly raised by surrogate mother hens, we will have to wait for them to start preening their essential oils for floating through their own feathers before we can let them out onto the water. But i shall be sure to bring you many pictures of the ducklings first length of the pond.


Thanks for Reading
James

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Flyte so Fancy Walk-In Chicken Runs - Poultry Protection Pens

When I'm feeling particularly dramatic or busy, I like to portray myself to the rest of the office team, as the resident Sisyphus. The man condemned to push a boulder to the top of a hill each day only to have it roll to the bottom again. While poetical, I will however admit, that at the top of my list of jobs to do for quite some while now, are new photos for the Flyte so Fancy Poultry Protection Pen.

Here at Flyte so Fancy, we continually update and re-do our instructions to make them as crystal clear and user friendly as possible. Anne often reminds me that when I tell customers that they can have a Long Legged Maggie's 12 Hen House together in twenty minutes with "a minute break for a cup of tea" that they haven't constructed three hundred of them, like I have. Our Poultry Protection Pens are also very simple to put together and built of the highest quality and strongest materials to keep your birds safe.

Walk In Runs
Two Young Volunteers put together a Protection Pen
The Flyte so Fancy Poultry Protection Pen is a large walk-in chicken run keeps your hens secure. Starting at the smallest 9ft x 9ft and going up in jumps of 3ft, to the largest feasible, a 9ft by 24ft. Built from flat wired panels of pressure treated 38 x 38 timber, on to this is wired inch by half inch green plastic covered weldmesh, small enough to stop anything hopping in and strong enough to stop Mr Fox, or any other predator, from breaking in. These chicken runs have been designed so that once everything is screwed together and all the braces are in place, it is a sturdy and rigid unit to survive the harshest of conditions.

Large Chickens Runs
The FSF Shop Display Poultry Protection Pen
Having a pen built like this, means you can let your girls out in the daytime with peace of mind, knowing that they are safe and secure from any of the dangers that lurk beyond the garden hedge. Also, if you work during the day and are particularly proud of your garden, you know that your girls can stretch their wings, whilst your herbaceous border remains in tact. To help keep danger away, the addition of a No Dig Skirt, to stop foxes and other predators tunneling in really makes the Protection Pen a poultry haven. Or, if you are setting up a permanent base of operations, getting the additional corresponding Sleeper and Woodchip pack, not only lifts the walk-in run up on a stately plinth (increasing the strength of the unit again) but creates a solid barrier to keep pesky predators out.

Large Poultry Pens
Operations Manager Rich adding a Mating Panel onto a Protection Pen
Finally, to maximise the space inside your chicken run, there is the option of adding a mating panel. This allows your hen house to go on the outside of the pen, then connected by a joining tunnel, which gives the whole of the space left inside for some poultry perambulation. Equally, the addition of a polycarbonate roofing for your Protection Pen can help keep the worst of the elements off. The Flyte so Fancy Blog has looked in-depth at at the many advantages of polycarbonate roofing previously, and you can read that particular blog entry, Poultry Protection Pen Roofs, HERE.

The Flyte so Fancy Poultry Protection Pen is a secure way to keep your hens safe, while you are out at work or throughout the day. These fox proof pens are one of our top sellers here at FSF HQ and while I still haven't got around to re-doing the instructions with yours truly (I've had a haircut specially for the occasion) these simple to build, sturdy and unobtrusive chicken runs will keep your girls protected and secure.


Thanks for Reading
James