Friday, 26 September 2014

Gimme Shelter - Chicken Shelters for the Garden and Paddock

Just yesterday the Flyte so Fancy Team was sitting in the sun enjoying an ice lolly and remarking what "an incredibly warm afternoon it was" and throwing around phrases like "unseasonably hot" and "Indian Summer". It's a rough old life.

We have somewhat been brought back to earth with a bump this morning as it is cold, grey and raining. So, much for "Indian Summer". The Flyte so Fancy Team aren't the only ones scrambling for a dry corner to work in. The residents of the FSF Poultry Paddock looking indignant have all shuffled under the available the shelters to keep their feathers dry. Suffice to say, the ducks couldn't care less.

We have various shelters in our chicken field for our flock to stay dry under, from the very small to fit the smallest of gardens, to field shelters big enough to house two large pigs.

The Feeder Shelter / Dustbath

A very small and versatile little shelter, this is designed to be used as a dustbath to save your flowerbeds, or if you turn the base upside down as a raised platform shelter for a feeder. While it might look small this is no lightweight box that will blow away and is a perfect little stay-dry spot for your hens.

Feeder Shelter for Poultry
Chicken Feeder Shelter / Dustbath
The Jungle Gym

Worried that your girls need a little entertainment? Are they beginning to look a little flabby in the feathers? Well, the Chicken Jungle Gym is a one stop adventure playground for your hens. With multiple perches, different levels and hanging points for treats, it also has a roof for protection from the both rain and sun. We have one persistent hen who insists on perching under the roof in even the most torrential of rainstorms.

Poultry Activity Centre
Chicken Jungle Gym
The Chicken Dust n' Perchery

The Chicken Dust n' Perchery is a large shelter with a rack of seven perches for your girls as well as some more inside for staying out of the rain, it has a substantial roofed area for the large dustbath, sheltering from the elements or for putting feeders and drinkers. Solidly built to be used by all breeds of birds, the Dust n' Perchery will withstand life in the outdoors with ease.

Poultry Shelters
Dust n' Perchery Shelter
The Chicken Shelter

The Chicken Shelter is a simple weather shelter, to give your girls somewhere to go to stay out of the rain during a downpour. They are also an ideal place to put feeders and drinker to keep them out of the elements. Coming in two sizes, the Small and the Large, the overhanging roof on the open front provides maximum protection for within the shelter.

The small shelter comes with a single central perch for your birds, while the larger option has two internal perches, it has plenty of room for all. Both units are sturdily built, with a ventilation gap along the back panel to prevent the shelter blowing over in high winds. Both shelters come with stainless steel hooks for the hanging of treats or even feeders and drinkers.

So snug do the FSF flock find these shelters, that we currently have a broody hen laying on a clutch of eggs within one at the moment.

Shelter for Poultry from the Rain
The Chicken Shelter and a very organised queue

The Chicken Shelter Jumbo

Of the same design as the Chicken Shelter, the Jumbo Shelter has it's own category for one reason, it  is huge. Roughly 6ft by 4ft by 4ft, the Jumbo Shelter will hold around 15 birds, it was originally designed for a customer who kept pigs. With two internal perches for your birds, the Jumbo Chicken Shelter is a very large unit, for those whose flock has grown and grown.

Protecting Poultry from the Weather
Jumbo Shelter plus ex-professional rugby player to give an idea of scale
As I sit here tapping away at my keyboard the rain has actually stopped, the Despatch Team have tentatively poked their heads from out of the shop, while the chickens are slowly lifting their skirts out of the wet grass and heading out into the paddock. Regardless of the weather the ducks are continuing to cannonball off the floating duck lodge into the pond.

This has just been a very quick guide to our different chicken shelters, if you have any more questions or queries, why not leave us a comment or give us a ring on 01300 345229.

Thanks for Reading

Friday, 19 September 2014

Outdoor Cat Play Pens

Driving home on Tuesday 16th listening, with the wireless dial firmly on Radio4's PM show, amid all the news and objectivity, there was an interesting little segment all about keeping cats inside or in an enclosed run, to help reduce their stress levels.

The research was done by Dr John Bradshaw of Bristol University, who has discovered that stressed cats, which can lead to both mental and physical health issues for your moggy, when confined can be significantly happier. Doctor Bradshaw's findings highlighted three areas where keeping a cat contained had advantages.

  1. When all cats roam free, there is bullying and fighting over territory. Often leading the loser being to scared to go out. 
  2. Busy roads are the main killer of young cats.
  3.  Keeping a cat inside or an in a run helps encourage wildlife into your garden. 
During the interview Dr Bradshaw pointed to the example of Europe, with many people living in apartments, cats are kept inside with little detrimental effects to their health. While we are not arguing with his findings, Flyte so Fancy have a slightly different approach, with our outdoor cat houses and runs

Cat Houses for the Garden
The Cottage Outdoor Cat House
The Cottage Outdoor Cat House is stylish living for your much loved moggies. With a large raised living area with room for beds, toys and litter trays, the apartment is accessed through a lockable cat flap. Access to the raised living area is gained though a regal staircase or ramps and corner shelf landings, with the addition of a third shelf for snoozing in the sun. 

Made with the same pressure treated timbers as our hen houses, access for the two legged is as just as easy, with a large access door on the front, smaller access door on the back and entry into the living area through a large hinged back panel, the Cottage Outdoor Cat House is luxury living for your feline friends.

cat play pen in the garden
Cat Play Pen for the Garden 
If you are looking for somewhere where your cat can stretch its paws whilst remaining safe and sound, an outdoor cat play pen is an ideal safe haven. Completely enclosed, constructed from strong pressure treated timber framing and galvanised weldmesh, it provides a secure playpen for your garden while still being able to survey his or her domain. . With the option of adding corner shelves and ramps for your cat to climb and with plenty of room inside for a cat house, it will keep your cat completely safe and sound and utterly stress free. 

safe pens for cats in the garden
Cat Play Pen Accessories, Including Ramps and Shelves
The cat play pens come in various sizes to match all and any gardens (the junior range for smaller gardens) and is the best of both worlds (in letting your cat roam free of molestation while keeping them safe). 

Cats make wonderful pets and if I could ever get Blackie, the office cat, to wake up long enough to go outside into one of our pens to stretch his legs he would love it. Keeping your cats safe and secure can greatly increase their happiness, and a happy cat usually means a happy home. 

If you have questions about our cat houses or play pens why not leave us a comment or give us a call on 01300 345229.

Thanks for Reading 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Top Tips for Preventing Poultry Feather Pecking

We have a pecking order here in the office. Anne gets cross that someone hasn't replaced the paper in the printer and moans at me, I moan at everyone else, everyone else moans at Sprocket the office dog and Sprocket goes away and sulks at not getting a biscuit from the office biscuit barrel. While this system is somewhat unfair to the loyal (if not loud and yappy) Flyte so Fancy pooch, it is however how pecking order's work.

The numerous hen houses, poultry pens and even in the FSF chicken field all have their own pecking orders too. There is a chief hen at the top of the order and one hen on the bottom rung. Part of establishing this pecking order, is the actual pecking. Feather pecking is something that hens do, the occasional nip here and there in passing is part of being a hen, however when this moves over into full blown aggressive feather pecking then this is a problem that should be dealt with immediately. Here are a few top tips on how to help prevent feather pecking among your birds.

Annual Moult in Poultry
Feathers in the Run from the Annual Moult

Feather Pecking Causes
  1. It sounds like a simple point, but are your girls getting enough sunlight. Whilst chickens do like a dim relaxed nest box for laying an egg, living in permanent gloom will slowly just get them down, leading to vitamin deficiencies and possible feather pecking. They don't need twenty-four constant daylight beaming down on them, but to feel the sun on their feathers improves their mood no end. 
  2. While the life of a chicken might seem all sunny days and endless grubbing about for worms, it doesn't take much for a hen to get bored. Bored hens can quite easily turn to feather pecking and the quickest and easiest way to cure the issue is to hang some boredom busting treats around the coop to distract them. A busy hen is a happy hen. 
  3. Making sure your chickens diet is healthy and balanced besides helping with the more obvious aspects of your hens well-being can also aid with feather pecking issues. One of the causes of feather pecking is a protein deficiency. Feathers are essentially made of protein and so pulling them out and eating them is a last ditch source of this necessary supplement. Making sure that you have given your girls a good quality feed with a decent percentage of protein in it (16% in the Smallholder Layers Pellets range) will help with the growth of new feathers and hopefully avoid the issue entirely. 
  4. Always make sure that your hens aren't overcrowded. If you have more hens then can realistically fit in your coop then they will very quickly become stressed. They will become stressed and begin to peck at each other as they attempt to secure themselves a spot. Give your hens the appropriate amount of space that they need. 
  5. Introducing a new hen into an established flock can often lead to the bullying of the new hen, feather pecking included. Before introducing new hens, put them in either a separate run or boxed off in an area of the existing run where they will be safe. The important part is that the hens can see each other! After a few days they quickly become acclimatised to each other and you can then introduce the new birds into the flock properly. 
Chickens at Flyte so Fancy
FSF Chicken Field
There are some great products on the market to help your hen who is being bullied, from anti-pecking sprays to gentian violet antiseptic spray to help relieve the pain, although these are not always the answer to the problem. For a more in-depth look at feather pecking take a look at our new information page on the website and if you have any questions or tips why not leave a comment below.

Thanks for Reading