Thursday, 9 August 2018

Helping your chickens stay healthy this summer


Hot weather care for chickens

The heat has been causing chicken keepers concern this year, with some of you reporting your chickens going off lay, or generally appearing stressed by the heat, so I made a little video with suggestions of ways to keep your chickens cool this summer.  Check it out here:


The heat is not the only thing that is troublesome to your chickens at this time of the year, there are other things you should to watch out for if you are going to keep your chickens safe and well.

Plants poisonous to chickens

For those chickens lucky enough to be able to free-range, there are some real dangers lurking in our gardens and paddocks as flowers turn to fruit and veg, and leaves wilt and become beak height. Chickens will usually avoid bitter tasting plants but, if you see your chicken has collapsed or suffering with convulsions, he or she may have eaten something poisonous.

Plants poisonous to chickens include;
  • Tomato Plants: Although the fruit and seeds are a wonderful treat, the leaves, stems and vines are poisonous.
  • Rhubarb Leaves: These leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid which can cause kidney failure
  • Potato Plants: A member of the Nightshade family, Potato plants are poisonous to chickens
  • Uncooked Beans: Contain hemaglutin, which is very poisonous to birds
  • Lupins: As beautiful as those blue and pink spires are, keep your birds away! The plant can cause nervous system problems.
  • Periwinkle (Creeping Myrtle): Can also cause nervous system failure and death
  • Foxglove: Lovely to look at but contains digitalis, a cardiac drug that causes the heart to slow down.
  • Holly: Ingestion of leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Advocados: Contains a toxin that can be fatal, not only to poultry but to dogs, cats and cattle!
  • Egg Plant: Like the Rhubarb, the leaves are poisonous to chickens.


Poultry runs in Summer

Chickens in a run might be free from the poisonous hazards of free-ranging but there can still be issues to consider in the run in the hot weather.  

We are sure that you have remembered to provide some shade for your flock with this intense sunshine but too much shade can also be bad for your chickens' health, as can a change in diet. To keep your chickens healthy this summer, we recommend you:

  • Do not cover the entire run with shade. Although they do need some shade to cool down, chickens also need the full spectrum of UV rays to help them process Vitamin D, important for good health and egg production.

  • Do not give too many treats. With the longer days, extreme heat and bored chickens, it may be tempting to give treats. We would advise against this, chickens will become fat and ill. While you might think it a good idea to give your chickens lots of succulent treats, this should not be a regular occurrence! Concentrate on a balanced diet of layers pellets, with a little corn as a treat. Any extras should be no more than 10% of their feed.

Flies and bacteria are also a health hazard when chickens are confined to an area that is fouled and the weather is warm. We would suggest a ground sanitising powder which can simply be sprinkled on the ground. Containing DEFRA approved Halamid disinfectant and citronella, it helps to keep the run clean and fresh, discouraging flies and harmful bacteria.

If flies are becoming a big problem for you and your chickens, the Red Top Fly Trap is the ultimate fly trap and carries on working for up to 12 weeks. Just add water and hang it up! 


Cockerel stretching his wings to cool down in the Flight So Fancy Paddock


5 tips to keep your chickens healthy this summer

  1. If your chickens appear to be off their food, our best advice would be to feed at the cooler times of the day, early in the morning and late afternoon. It is important not to feed too many treats as their pellets needed to balance their diet, may seem less appealing.
  2. Make sure your chickens have access to plenty of cool water and check drinkers frequently. Chickens may not drink water when it's warm and harmful bacteria is likely to grow in drinkers more quickly. To combat algae growth and give your flock a boost, add some Apple Cider Vinegar. (Use in plastic drinkers only).
  3. Create some shady spots, make a dust bath and if it's really hot, try spraying the ground with water, as evaporation will cool the air and give your birds some respite from the heat.
  4. If you are transporting birds, they will die if transported in the boot, so strap their carrier in the car and open some windows!
  5. If you suspect your chickens are unwell as a result of heat-stroke or poisoning, contact your vet without delay.

If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned or if you want to ask me a question to be featured in a future #AskPhill video, leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.

Thanks for Reading.
Phill




Thursday, 16 November 2017

How to beat Bird Flu this winter



It was almost a year ago that DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announced an Avian Influenza protection zone, triggered by an outbreak of H5N8 Bird Flu, most likely brought in by the winter migration of wild birds to the UK.  A precautionary measure was put in place to keep domestic poultry separate from wild birds in a bid to contain the outbreaks.

Many poultry keepers were simply not prepared for the effects of DEFRA's Avian Flu restrictions which saw many birds housed indoors for a period of over four months!  Birds became stressed and the free-range egg status was compromised and for some there was the heartbreaking and devastating culling of flocks. Thankfully, we have not had a confirmed new case in the UK for several months.

Nigel Gibbens, the Government's Chief Veterinary Officer has been advising poultry keepers to stay vigilant and continue to take practical steps to continue with the bio-security and to be prepared, as the risk of a new outbreak is more likely at this time of the year.

What can I do to help beat Bird Flu this winter?


Our #AskPhill video number 6 sets out our top tips for taking stock and preparing yourself and your flock to beat Bird Flu this winter. Click below to watch.






Preventing contamination from wild birds in the fight against Bird Flu


One of the most challenging restrictions last year was to keep birds undercover in an effort to control the disease, by keeping wild birds and their droppings out.  Much ingenuity was demonstrated as poultry were housed in sheds and garages and makeshift pens, and under trampolines and tarpaulins.  As the restrictions were extended more permanent solutions, such as walk in runs, were erected.  Flyte So Fancy's Poultry Protection Pens and Walk In Runs can be fitted with a poly-carbonate roof or simply a tarpaulin or Rainshade to keep droppings from wild birds out.

Simple poultry bio-security measures will help in the fight against the Avian Flu virus H5N8


Perhaps, the simplest and most cost effective product a poultry keeper should have in the armoury, is Virkon® S - a versatile disinfectant, DEFRA approved and effective against viruses such as those that cause Bird Flu. It is simple to mix-up to be used to disinfect feeders, drinkers, the house and you can even use a watering can to spray it over the poultry run floor! Any left over can be used to create a simple foot bath for your wellies! Good for all year-round bio security. 



For more useful products and equipment to prepare yourself for Bird Flu shop here where you will find all the products needed for your #BirdFlu armoury in one easy to find place.  Flyte So Fancy offer next working day delivery to your door for orders placed before 2pm (Mon-Fri). We do our best to stock everything you need to keep your flock happy and healthy. If you need guidance about which products to choose, please do call us on 01300 345229.

During last year's outbreak, we at Flyte So Fancy did our best to keep your spirits up and offer helpful suggestions for stressed birds and you can read our previous bird flu blogs for more suggestions by clicking the links below: 

Or visit the Bird Flu hints and tips page on our website for more information.

If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned or if you want to ask me a question to be featured in a future #AskPhill video, leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.


Thanks for Reading.
Phill

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Why Should I give my Chickens Apple Cider Vinegar?

Chickens are usually very entertaining and rewarding but it can be a worrying time to us as chicken keepers when they fall ill. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure and one of the best preventative and beneficial products to have among your poultry supplies is Apple Cider Vinegar.  

Apple Cider Vinegar from Flyte So Fancy

How does Apple Cider Vinegar help my chickens?


Apple Cider Vinegar contains minerals such as potassium, vitamins A and C, and calcium and phosphorous, which help to support the immune system, especially beneficial in times of stress. Sometimes during the annual moult, when moving or introducing new chickens, or when predators are making their presence felt, you may notice that your hens go off-lay, lose feathers or are generally listless, indicating stress.

Apple Cider Vinegar is, by its very nature, acidic, thus lowering the Ph of the digestive tract, and making it an inhospitable place for worms to live and breed and promoting healthy bacteria in the gut, aiding digestion and clearing the respiratory tract. 

If you notice your chickens looking under the weather or are worried about their health, our simple chicken check-up list may help you identify the problem. 

Click the video link below to see the 2nd video in our #AskPhill series, to see the benefits of apple cider vinegar in chickens


How to administer Apple Cider Vinegar


Apple Cider Vinegar is a very cost effective tonic and is added to fresh drinking water at the rate of one teaspoon (10ml) per litre and can be fed for about a week each month.  Chicks and young birds can also benefit but at a more diluted 2ml per litre.  Take care not to add too much Apple Cider Vinegar as if the application is too concentrated, your chickens may stop drinking.
Plastic Chicken Drinkers

Only use plastic drinkers when
administering apple cider vinegar


Only plastic drinkers should be used as galvanised drinkers will become corroded by the acidity of the Apple Cider Vinegar over a period of time, damaging both the drinker and releasing toxins into the water.


As well as tonic for drinking, Apple Cider Vinegar also has antiseptic and a mild antibiotic properties which can help treat minor wounds and skin irritations (use 1 part to 10).  It can depresses the growth of algae in the drinker and can also be used to clean feeding and drinking equipment. It can also be sprayed into and around housing as a very effective mite, fly and insect deterrent. 


If you have any questions about Apple Cider Vinegar or if you want to ask me a question to be featured in a future #AskPhill video, leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.


Thanks for Reading.
Phill

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Annual Moult

As a new poultry keeper it can be quite distressing  to see your chickens looking scruffy and balding and you may worry that there is something more sinister going on when they stop laying, but rest assured, the annual moult is perfectly natural.  

Most chickens shed their feathers in late summer or early autumn, and as this coincides with a time of the year when there is less daylight hours, it can sometimes put the birds under further 'stress' as the production of vitamin D3 is reduced and there is less time to scratch around for high protein grubs.  

Depending on the breed, it can take around 6 to 12 weeks for the moult to complete, during which time you may find only the occasional egg being laid. Replenishing feathers requires protein and so it is perhaps too much to ask that our girls continue to support egg production whilst simultaneously producing feathers.  Like hens, cockerels also moult and are likely to be infertile at this time as they lose body weight and their reproductive physiology is undergoing a resting phase, so they too will benefit from extra protein to help them put on body fat. 

In extreme cases, if a bird is not getting enough protein, it may peck and eat the feathers of other birds, which can cause bad habits that can be hard to break and result in bullying behaviour as a result of feather pecking.  

If you are wondering what to feed your chickens during the moult, then protein is the key and nutrition is especially important during this period.  Here are 3 top ways to help your moulting flock:

FEED A HIGH PROTEIN FEED

It is important to feed your chickens a good, high quality protein rich diet at this time of year. Layers Pellets should contain around 16% protein and we can recommend feeding Garvo Alfamix for Chickens.

SUPPLEMENT YOUR FEED WITH HIGH PROTEIN TREATS

Our chickens always appreciate a treat but not all are created equal. At this time of the year it is worth considering swapping out the windfall apples and pears and cabbage leaves for a superfood treat such as Natures Grub Superfood Poultry Treat.

ADD A TONIC

Our Flyte So Fancy Oreganico Poultry Tonic is a natural solution of Oregano oils to boost your birds' immune system at a time like this and can in fact used as as prophylactic throughout the year. Just a few drops added to the drinking water is all that is needed. A very cost effective tonic which has anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties, offering a natural alternative to antibiotics. 


If you are dealing with chickens that are looking really sorry for themselves, during the annual moult or perhaps if you are re-homing ex-battery hens, try adding the Flyte So Fancy Cal-Boost, a concentrated calcium and mineral supplement containing Vitamin D3.


If you have any questions about how to best care for your hens during the annual moult, why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.

If your chickens are losing feathers and you are not sure why, then check out our #AskPhill Video on the topic of feather loss in chickens.  Find it here on our YouTube Channel ~AskPhill No 13

Link to Feather Loss in Chickens video
Click here to be taken to video


Thanks for Reading.

Phill






Thursday, 22 June 2017

Chickens & Summer Holidays - 5 Things to Think About

It's getting near prime Summer holiday season (the three fans I have pointed at me in the FSF office can attest to that) and with the excitement of a holiday comes a little simple planning on how your chickens are to fair, while you sun yourself in a foreign clime.

Fantasia Hen House

Here are five things to think about while preparing for your holiday.


LETTING THEM IN AND OUT

VSB Automatic Chicken House Door OpenerWhile your away who is going to make sure your hens are locked up safe at night and let out each morning? A willing family friend or neighbour is all well and good but can be a terrible imposition. This is where Automatic Chicken House Door Openers really come into their own. Operating off either a light sensor or a timer option, they open and close your hen house door every morning and evening, keeping your girls safe and saving you having to ask a neighbour to "pop-round" at the break of dawn each day. 

Running off of AA batteries and coming with a manufacturer warranty, both the Chicken Guard and VSB Auto Door Opener Units are a real life saver for long weekends, holidays away and just having a lie in any day of the week.

Gaun Poultry Drinker from Flyte So Fancy
Poultry drinkers come in a range
of shapes and sizes

SUPPLY OF FRESH WATER

A good sized drinker set up in the corner of your run will make sure that your hens always have access to fresh water. Drinkers with legs, like the Gaun Tripod Drinkers, means that the water stays clean and fresh while you're away and you don't have to worry about your hens kicking mud and other muck into their water. A big drinker would do well over a long weekend and the kind asking of a neighbour to top it up on occasion over a week would see your hens hydrated and fresh.

SUPPLY OF FEED

When it comes to feeding your hens the rules are not dissimilar to giving them a supply of fresh water. A hen will eat roughly 200g of Layers Pellets feed a day  (dependent on what other food may be available) and so a feeder should take the number of hens you have to that ratio. A good quality feeder, raised up on legs, or with an anti-waste grid will prevent your hens from spilling or wasting feed. Again a kind person checking that the feeder is topped up, will keep your hens happy and well fed.


CLEANING

If you are going away for over a week you will need to ask someone to clean your hen house to make sure your chickens are living in hygienic conditions. This is important to avoid any infections in your hens from a dirty and mucky coop. With this in mind, you may want to make sure you have supplies for cleaning at the ready. We offer a next day delivery to most areas of the UK.

EGG COLLECTION

Perhaps one that isn't often thought of (but if you are away for a long time should be considered) who is going to collect your eggs. If you have six hens laying six eggs over six days, that is a total of thirty six eggs sitting in the nest box by the time you return. Not removing the eggs could result in them getting crushed leading to egg eating (a habit hard to break), your hens laying eggs all over the place in any clear spot and the possibility of a hen going broody and sitting on this great pile of eggs. As always, arranging a trusty person to come in and collect the eggs from the nestbox is the best thing to do and often a nice reward for checking on your chickens in your absence.

When going away and arranging looking after your hens some things are easy to organise. An Automatic Door and a larger feeder and drinker will take care of any long weekend you may have planned. Longer holidays require a little more planning, to make sure the hen house remains a hygienic place for your hens to live.

If you have any questions about the best way to look after your hens while on holiday, why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the FSF Team.


Thanks for Reading
James

Monday, 12 June 2017

De-Pluming Mite (and how to spot them)

Firstly let me apologise that it has been so long since the Flyte so Fancy Blog has blogged. However, I noticed a trend over the last few months, after the DEFRA Avian Flu conditions were lifted, of people phoning with a problem that sounded like Depluming mite.

Usually very rare among poultry keepers, it isn't a subject that we have covered often before. However, we think that there may be a correlation between everyone having their hens confined over the winter months and the increased cases of possible Depluming mite.

First of all, How do you identify Depluming Mite on your hens:
  1. The mites cause great irritation to the hen's skin and so a bird pulling out their own feathers is a sure sign. 
  2. Depluming mite burrow into the feathers and skin around them so your hen's skin will appear red and sore,and around the base of the feathers scabs can form. 
  3. Feathers that look dishevelled or damaged are a good sign that mite may be attacking them. 
Depluming mite are very similar (and related to) Scaly Leg Mite and work in a similar way. Living on the bird only, they can go from baby to adult in just over two weeks. As the mite spends its whole life living on the bird, it is transferred from bird to bird by physical contact. 
Depluming Mites in Poultry
Ivermectin Drops

Mite powders tend not to have an effect on Depluming mite as they cannot reach the mite within their burrows. The best thing to use (again similar to treating scaly leg mite) is Ivermectin Drops 1%. A spot on anti-parasite treatment for mites, this will deal with the depluming mite on your birds. Applying a few drops to the area between the shoulder blades once a week for three weeks, should take care of the problem. Ivermectin isn't licensed for poultry specifically, but for small domestic pets/birds not intended for food use. There is also likely to be an egg withdrawal period also.

Depluming mite is a particularly nasty little mite that can leave your hens looking very sorry for themselves. If you have any questions regarding depluming mite, or any other mite that may be affecting your hens why not leave a comment below, or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team.


Thanks for Reading
James


Friday, 10 March 2017

The Classic Duck House - A Photo Tour

When it comes to a home in the country, ducks look for decidedly different things than their chickens chums, which is why when purchasing a home for your ducks, it's important to get a home suited for them.

Flyte so Fancy Duck houses are built from our tanalised treated Scandinavian redwood, all the fixtures and fittings are galvanised steel making them robust and long lasting and all have been designed with the needs of ducks in mind

The Classic Duck house is one of our most popular duck houses for first time duck keepers and established flocks alike. Suitable for up to six ducks (Indian-Runner sized), the duck house has all the essential features for keeping your ducks healthy and their home hygienic. 

Timber Duck Houses Made in the UK
Large Access Door on the Classic Duck House
Ducks stand more upright than chickens, as such they need a larger door to get through. The Classic Duck house comes with a large pop-hole opening, and the door to the duck house folds down like a drawbridge, to provide an easy to navigate ramp for your ducks (most ducks don't do climbing or steep slopes). 

Timber Duck Housing
Easily Removable Side Panel for Cleaning
Ducks are messy. They like to make a mess, they don't mind a mess and if they can take a small puddle and turn it into a quagmire they will. As such being able to clean the duck house out properly is important. The Classic Duck house comes with a fully removable side panel, so when it comes to cleaning you can get right inside the duck house to clean every corner

Duck and Goose Houses - Flyte so Fancy
Ventilation in the Roof Apex and Side Window
As mentioned just above, ducks are messy. Due to this their home needs ventilation. Ducks don't perch; they sleep, poo and lay their eggs all inside the house. As such they need plenty of floor space and they need a thick layer of bedding to snuggle down in to. However all this messiness means duck housing requires top ventilation and the Classic Duck House (along with ventilation in the apex of the roof) also has a large ventilation window in the side panel; complete with sliding cover allowing you to open as you please. 

Made in the UK
Small Classic Duck House
The Classic Duck house is the ideal home for a flock of ducks, spacious with plenty of ventilation, to keep ducks in a healthy and hygienic house, with added rustic charm. 

If you have any questions about our Flyte so Fancy Duck Houses leave a comment below or call us on 01300 345229 to speak to a member of the Flyte so Fancy team; always happy to help. 


Thanks for Reading
James