Friday, 23 August 2013

A Sleepy Office Worker and a Maggie's Dozen

It was "suggested" this week, that I leave the comfort of my drowse inducing reclining chair, put down my cup of coffee and go down to the workshop where the FSF carpenter's (with three Gypsy Caravan's and numerous hen houses on order) were quickly turning our Scandinavian redwood timber into sawdust faster than a family of beavers working against both budgetary and time constraints.

Wandering around and looking at the sturdy protection pen panels being made by Andy, strolling past Toby constructing our ever popular Hobby Hen houses, I settled by Mark the foreman's bench as he worked on one of the paramount hen houses here at Flyte so Fancy, the Maggie's Dozen.

For those requiring plenty of space for their flock, the Maggie's Dozen is a residence for twelve very lucky laying hens. Built with the due care and attention that you'd expect, it has copious features perfect for the modern poultry keeper. The large back access door makes accessing the inside of the house easy and hassle free. The large ventilation grille window on the side means you can control air flow into the keep, meaning warm nights can be cool, and cool nights warm. The removable dirt tray, a must if your hens are as messy as mine, easily slides out of the side panel, making giving the coop the occasional quick clean during the week perfectly simple. Inside the coop are three perches, artfully racked to make use of the large interior of the coop, but also providing a pecking order.

The nest box is a great feature of the hen house too. Externally fitted, the morning egg collection is
uncomplicated and quick. The hook on the roof is there to stop the lid falling on your head also, which I unfortunately found out the hard way, while trying to juggle, a chicken, three eggs and the lid, but came up one hand short.

Shocked to discover what I had been sat on for the last twenty minutes was not a conveniently located bench for tired office workers, but in fact a long legged floor option for the Maggie's Dozen hen house, I tried to sneak out of the workshop with all the dignity and poise I could muster. Elevated on 24 inch legs, the Long Legged Maggie's Dozen rises stately over the garden. While it means that there is slightly less bending down involved in egg collection, their are also myriad benefits for the hens too. It provides an excellent sheltered place to put a feeder and drinker, to save them from the elements, or just as importantly a shady spot for a snooze on a sunny day.

The Maggie's Dozen has long been our most popular house, with good reason. Its mix of carefully implemented design, gorgeous aesthetics and chicken comfort, makes it beautifully proportioned for any feathered flock. The option of adding on a roomy run, gives you complete peace of mind. A vast palace of wood and weldmesh, it provides total security to your girls, allowing them to get on with the busy work of being a chicken.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Top Tips for Getting Rid of Red Mite!

Maybe its the weather we're having at the moment, the time of year, or perhaps every red mite in the world got together for a huge meeting and decided to come out of hibernation at the same time, but we are getting call after call from people every day who are suffering from a serious red mite problem in their chicken coops.

Here at FSF HQ we've put our heads together, formed a vast pool of chicken knowledge and then compiled a list of the top ten ways to identify red mite, and then how to eradicate them.

1: Anne's top tip; put a collar of Vaseline around the end of all your perches. Then in the morning shine a torch on it and if red mite have been active during the night, you should be able to see them trapped within the Vaseline.

2: Are your hens reluctant to go in to their coop at night. If they are, it's usually because they know the little vampires within are waiting for their dinner.

3: If your hens are very lethargic, not laying during a known laying period and have a pale comb it is probably due to them being anemic. This is due to red mite feasting on them every night. The answer, apart from eradicating red mite, is a tonic like Life Guard, which with its iron supplements will help boost them back up.

4: This is what a red mite swarm might look like in your coop, in this instance it was under a perch.

Hen House suffering from Red Mite

5: The way we recommend to all our customers for getting rid of red mite, is to use Poultry Shield and Diatom in conjunction. Using Poultry Shield on your hen house will remove the organic layer of matter which the mites live and thrive in, it also penetrates the protective coating of the mites and their eggs causing them to shrivel and die. Following this up with Diatom, sprinkled within the hen house, but most especially in the corners, any cracks and by the perches, will result in residual mite control. It really does work, and you'll find many places over the web singing its praises. 

6: Another great option we mention in our leaflets (and someone on our Facebook page validated awhile ago) was to make a Diatom paste, by mixing Diatom and water, and painting it on the inside of the coop. While it might not look pretty its very effective against red mite and can easily be washed off later.

7: Diatom is a completely natural product and as such can be directly applied to the bird with no negative affects. The best way to do this is to put a handful or two into your birds favourite dustbathing spot, they will then naturally work the powder through their feathers themselves. 

8: For serious infestations, using a Fumer might be the best way of clearing the coop. Let your girls out in the morning, once they have all laid, then shut up the henhouse tight. Let off the fumer in the coop, it will smoke for about thirty seconds to a minute and then leave it for two hours. Open up the coop and clean it through using Poultry Shield and Diatom. 

9: In the right conditions red mite can go from an egg to a fully grow adult within seven days. This short cycle means that swarms grow rapidly. Make sure to clean your coop so that you break this cycle. Red mite can survive up to eight months without eating too, so even during the winter it is still a good idea to clean and protect your hen house with products like Poultry Shield, Net-Tex Total Mite Kill or the Poultry Keeper Range.  

10: Red Mite can infest any kind of hen house, be it plastic, metal or wooden. So constant vigilance is always needed, regardless of the type of hen house you have.  

If you've got any questions, need to re-stock on mite busting products or are currently trying to fend off a swarm using nothing but quick wits and a sharpened stick, give us a call on 01300 345229 or visit the website and we'll help as best we can.

In other news, the arrival of three Guinea Fowl keets (and what looks like more on the way) last week and with our Silver Hamburg and Gold Hamburg chicks both at around 14 -18 weeks, we have had many welcome new additions to the Flyte so Fancy flock.

Chicken and her chicks