Poultry Care, Getting Hens Through Winter – Jason’s Seventh Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

It was early one very cold January morning, many years ago when I learnt something about keeping poultry that I have passed on (not so much as advice, but) as a warning to many other keepers.

Frozen drinker - no drink here!
Frozen drinker – no drink here!

We woke up to a thick layer of snow that morning, and as ever when it comes, what a sight to wake up to, I always want to rush out with my camera, there are always so many great ‘snowy’ shots to take around the farm, though to be honest, I probably took them last time we had snow! A little slower than normal I made my way down to do what we refer to here as the morning ‘open up’, referring to all the animals (we don’t just do chickens!) as ‘everyone’, the open up is the regular morning routine of making sure everyone is let out of their overnight enclosures, fed, watered, a visual heath check and a brief chat with some of our old favourites! Most importantly making sure everyone is ‘still with us’!, always hoping not to find that there has been any sort of overnight disaster, this can take many forms, and over the years I’ve definitely had a few of them! Continue reading “Poultry Care, Getting Hens Through Winter – Jason’s Seventh Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Butterfly on hive
Butterfly on hive

Checking Hives

There is little to do in December except checking that the hives have not blown over, or been damaged by woodpeckers, damp or vandalism and that the entrances are not blocked by dead bees. Put the insert in mid month for a week (or do an icing sugar dust to get a more accurate and rapid assessment) in order to assess the mite drop and decide whether oxalic acid treatment is necessary at the end of the month. Sussex University believe that if any sealed brood is removed just before doing an oxalic treatment, this will last for a full year. Do take appropriate personal safety measures and read thoroughly the dosage etc to prevent harm to yourselves and the bees. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Pot Bellied Pig Food

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their pot bellied pig food product line.

Smallholder Range - Pot Bellied Pig
Smallholder Range – Pot Bellied Pig

The amount of feed a pig requires depends on its age and reproductive state. Pigs which are given the opportunity to free-range to any degree will obtain some of their food from natural sources, such as vegetation, brambles, acorns, apples and even earth worms, however it is important to supplement this with a balanced compound feed. Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Pot Bellied Pig Food”

Xmas Cheer, Free Feed Offer, Gift Ideas, Winter Poultry Care, Wood Fuel Pack, Pest Advice And More

Christmas Cheer

Christmas 2017 in the mantel farm shop
Christmas 2017 in the mantel farm shop

We hope you like our Christmas newsletter – you can view the full HTML version here. So it’s the last newsletter of 2017! I know we all say it; but where has the year gone? With the recent sharp frosts lasting most of the morning, and the fire alight in the shop, it is beginning to feel a little more like Christmas and it doesn’t seem quite so strange putting the decorations up (I must make those mince pies!) Continue reading “Xmas Cheer, Free Feed Offer, Gift Ideas, Winter Poultry Care, Wood Fuel Pack, Pest Advice And More”

This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Checking For Hidden (and hibernating) Creatures

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on hidden creatures.

Be sure to check for Hedgehogs
Be sure to check for Hedgehogs

Now the colder days and nights are upon us the pests are looking for somewhere warm and dry to spend the winter days. So now is the time to be on the lookout for pests making a home in your attic, garage or shed. Not all are a pest – I had two hedgehogs hibernate in my chicken house a couple of years ago! Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Checking For Hidden (and hibernating) Creatures”

Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – IS It Merry Christmas?

At a recent business event I had the pleasure of meeting Laurie, who has written so many great poems – his books are definitely included in our family’s stockings, and I just wanted to share his work with you all here. Laurie has supposedly retired, now spending his time writing and sharing his poems. All the profits made from his work go to the Help for Heroes Charity so this is a great way to enjoy a poem, buy a great gift and help a great cause.

The Psychy Poet
The Psychy Poet

IS it Merry Christmas?

Christmas cheer fills the world
All ready for that special day,
Got to have the greatest meal
For the best ever family day.
Smiling faces beam for the photo
All happy sat round the table.
Well mostly smiling, some just trying,
To look as happy as they’re able! Continue reading “Laurie Wilkinson, The Psychy Poet – IS It Merry Christmas?”

Keeping Poultry Safe, Protection From Foxes – Jason’s Sixth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

I’m often asked when is the best time of year to start keeping poultry

Sturdy wire keeps out Mr Fox
Sturdy wire keeps out Mr Fox

I think most people would naturally consider the answer to be early spring. This is the time of year when we always notice our shop getting busier, as we joke about the customers coming out of hibernation! Without a doubt it is the time of year when most beginners start their poultry keeping, although I’m quite happy to advise that more or less any time of year can be just as good, ‘different seasons for different reasons’. Continue reading “Keeping Poultry Safe, Protection From Foxes – Jason’s Sixth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees collecting water
Bees collecting water

Varroa Update

The varroa ‘bomb’ has struck again, in about the second week of October. In August my mite levels were generally low and I got most of them down to single figures after a dusting. I usually check again mid October, but was a week later than planned as I hurt my back lifting a too heavy super. I dusted on 20th October and was horrified, but not surprised, to have drops of between 19 and 550, so whenever weather permits, I shall be dusting. In 2012 all those which dropped more than 300 after a dusting at the end of October, died. The weather was poor that year though, so they were probably more susceptible. It will be interesting to see if the two this year dropping 400 and 550 die over winter. I hope not as they were promising new colonies this year. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Super Mixed Corn

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their super mixed corn product line.

Smallholder Range - Super Mixed Corn 20kg
Smallholder Range – Super Mixed Corn 20kg

Many people like to feed their chickens ‘treats’ to add variety to the diet. Whilst there is nothing wrong with feeding a small amount of treats, make sure your chickens eat their complete feed in the morning before giving any treats. This is important as the chicken’s crop limits food intake and as chickens are likely to prefer treats to their complete feed, they may fill up on treats and miss out on getting the right balance of nutrients. Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Super Mixed Corn”

New Look Newsletter, Queen Bees & Brood, Honey, Stop Foxes, Feed, Offers, Gardening

New Look Newsletter

Frame of Bee Brood
Frame of Bee Brood

We hope you like our new look newsletter – you can view the full HTML version here. Having carried out some research into how people view our newsletters we have found that the old format was behaving badly on some phones and devices, so we hope this style will be easier for all to read (please do give feedback). Continue reading “New Look Newsletter, Queen Bees & Brood, Honey, Stop Foxes, Feed, Offers, Gardening”

Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald – Autumn, Gateway to Winter & Planting Season

Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald…

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

gardening tales

After the clocks have gone back, the temperatures slowly dip and the days grow shorter, I start to cheer. For this is the time the seasons tell me to go home earlier and to rest and relax well! Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales from the Weald – Autumn, Gateway to Winter & Planting Season”

Introducing New Birds Into An Existing Flock – Jason’s Fifth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

Everyone loves the thought of that ‘magic answer’ – something many seek when it comes to introducing new birds into an existing flock!

Cockerels Can Help Introductions
Cockerels Can Help Introductions

In our shop, I work extremely hard to ensure that no one leaves, having purchased birds, without being asked if they have an existing flock, and whether they intend to introduce the new ones to them. If the answer is yes, they are asked if they have done this before, how it went, and just a quick run through to ensure they did it the best way possible. If the answer is no, then myself or my staff will talk them through the procedure that we recommend they follow. This is never set in stone, and will depend on many factors – for successful introduction, there is much you must know… Continue reading “Introducing New Birds Into An Existing Flock – Jason’s Fifth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Happy Pigs, Chicken Coops, Flock Integration, Free Gifts, Mealworms Offer, Vouchers, Feed

Happy Pigs

A Happy Pig Snuffling Acorns
A Happy Pig Snuffling Acorns

The leaves are dropping already! The plum tree is now nearly bare and there are conkers and leaves all over the track (time to start raking!) The Oaks are only just beginning to turn, but they are loaded with Acorns this year and much to the pigs delight they are constantly dropping into their pen! Continue reading “Happy Pigs, Chicken Coops, Flock Integration, Free Gifts, Mealworms Offer, Vouchers, Feed”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees orange ragwort or pale balsam pollen
Ragwort pollen pouring in, in response to first feed in early September. Entrance (5.5mm high) reduced right down with sponge to help defend against wasps and robbers.

Feeding and Varroa Check for Winter

Feeding syrup should be completed by now, this is so the bees have time before the weather becomes colder, to reduce the moisture in it as they would with nectar so it will keep over winter. If they still do not have what they need, I expect that 2:1 syrup or invert syrup is still better than anything else such as fondant, until the weather falls consistently below 14°C, at which point they go into a cluster. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths”

Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Hedge Cutting And Nesting Birds

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

Cutting Hedges
Cutting Hedges

This month we begin our hedge cutting regime in all of our gardens. Except for the minimal reduction of lateral growth in the summer for access, we haven’t cut since the end of February. This allows the birds to complete their second or even third brood cycles. Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Hedge Cutting And Nesting Birds”

This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Rodenticides

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on Rodenticides.

Rodents
Rodents

At this time of year it is worth checking your garden or plot for signs of rats before the winter months set in. If a rat population is low then control measures can be carried out yourself using licensed baits and traps, but if an infestation is found then you will need to call in a pest controller to solve the problem, so early action is best. Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Control Feature – Rodenticides”

Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Natural Free Range Layers Pellets / Crumble

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This month, Emily gives us an insight into what makes up their natural free range product line.

smallholder range
Smallholder Range, Natural Free Range Pellets / Crumble

Natural Free Range Layers Feed from the Smallholder Range provides a complete, nutritionally balanced diet, for healthy hens. Made from the highest standard of Non-GM ingredients, the Smallholder Range has recently launched their layers feed with the additional benefit of being Soya Free! Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Smallholder Range – Natural Free Range Layers Pellets / Crumble”

Autumn Poultry Care – Jason’s Fourth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

Thoughts on keeping your flock safe and healthy during Autumn and Winter

Autumn is upon us! I’m sure we say it every year, but soon the clocks will be changing and the nights will be drawing in, before we know it, pumpkins, bonfire night, log fires and, yep – Christmas again! (That reminds me, I still haven’t got around to chopping enough logs for the fire, and every year I’m convinced we’ll be ready, but there’s just too much to do!)

Chicken perching in our pear tree
Chicken perching in our pear tree

So what does this seasonal change mean to the poultry keeper?

For many, poultry keeping is ‘all about the eggs’ – a drop in light levels can mean a drop in egg production. Continue reading “Autumn Poultry Care – Jason’s Fourth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Electric Van, School Holidays, Allen & Page, Home Farmer Article, Special Offers, Gardening Talk

Wheels In Motion

August is the month where all routine seems to fly out the window! With variable weather and the school holidays added to the usual mix of madness. This year is our youngest sons last school holiday – a real reminder that the years move so quickly, it still seems only the other day that we no longer had any family at Primary School, now it’s a year of GCSEs and decisions on where to go next!

Those who follow us on our Facebook page may have seen that at the beginning of August we collected our new electric van. A big step forward for us to have a dedicated business vehicle – hopefully putting an end to the last minute folding up the seats in our car and travelling squashed between bits of chicken run, beehives, feed and chickens! (Although for larger chicken run installations and shows I am sure this wont yet be a thing of the past!)

Chris with our electric van
Chris with our electric van

Continue reading “Electric Van, School Holidays, Allen & Page, Home Farmer Article, Special Offers, Gardening Talk”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Seasons Turning, Cappings, Hives Review, Apiguard, Honey Crop

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

How quickly the seasons turn

It is now damp and cloudy and some leaves are turning brown; bee populations are reducing brood although still active in the warmth. All seem to be in robbing mode and as soon as I open my honey shed door or garage where my licked supers are stored they are in there sniffing around. I am careful to cover the frames with cover cloths when opening hives and when I do icing sugar treatments I stuff a cloth at the back to prevent the wasps and robbers messing up the insert drop. Be especially careful not to drop any wax or syrup on the ground. If you start feeding, do the first one in the evening and try to do them all at the same time to minimise the excitement it causes. I must put my wasp traps up.

Bee on Sedum
Bee on Sedum

Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Seasons Turning, Cappings, Hives Review, Apiguard, Honey Crop”

Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Wild Flower Meadows

Ian is a Gardens Manager living in Crowhurst, working as part of a team in three large country gardens in the Sussex and Kent Weald, where he is passionate about natural gardening.

Oh September the month of melancholy, mists and fruitfulness! Our first swallows have formed migratory flocks and are all away back down south, our martins will travel along too and we are left with a sense of loss but a sense of gain also with the beauty of autumn’s cool mists, fruitfulness and colour.

Autumn gardening
Autumn gardening

We cut our wild flower meadows this month. Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Wild Flower Meadows”

Allen and Page Feeds – Introduction To The Smallholder Range

Emily Brown has worked for the Smallholder Range as South East Area Manager since 2013. Emily is very passionate about feeding animals as naturally as possible and helping owners to overcome nutritional problems with correct feeding. This is her introduction as a contributor to the Mantel Farm newsletter each month…

Emily Brown - Allen and Page
Emily Brown – Allen and Page

What makes the Smallholder Range so different?

Non-GM Ingredients

To be able to offer you the very highest standard of feed the Smallholder Range does all that they can to ensure that all the ingredients used are grown from seed which is not genetically modified (Non-GM). Continue reading “Allen and Page Feeds – Introduction To The Smallholder Range”

Our Local Weather Forecast For September 2017

The pigs are feasting on apples now and soon there will be acorns too so they’re all fattening up nicely. Our bees are furiously filling up their hive with honey and certainly got quite nasty when I had a peek inside the other day. As for the fishing well there are still plenty of fat plaice around, sole and night from the beach and big bream on some marks offshore but not a lot else. If there is any settled hot weather we might see shoals of mackerel coming in to the beaches.

Our Pigs enjoying the weather
Our Pigs enjoying the weather

So, what will September’s weather bring? Continue reading “Our Local Weather Forecast For September 2017”

This Month’s Pest Feature – Flies and Fly Traps

Graham Burgess provides a local pest control service, including Bees, Wasps, Mice, Rabbits, Mink, Moles, Rats, Earwigs and Birds. This month he has written a feature on Flies and Fly traps.

House Flies and traps
House Flies and traps

A fly infestation in your home is a nuisance and a health risk. Flies can carry diseases such as Typhoid, E Coli, and Salmonella.

To make a simple fly trap take a 2 litre lemonade bottle, Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Feature – Flies and Fly Traps”

Wasp Traps, Red Mite Advice, Asian Hornets, Poultry Shield Offer, Gardening Tips

Fruit and Honey Harvest

Later this week we hope to take some honey from our beehives. The bees have done extremely well this year, even the colony that was weak to begin with has got stronger and stronger as the early warm weather gave plenty of opportunities for the bees to get out and about foraging. This has also helped the fruit and we have a bumper crop of peaches, plums, apples and pears this year, so much so we have had to prop our peach tree up to stop it from falling over from the weight of the fruit!

Comb of our Honey
Comb of our Honey

Continue reading “Wasp Traps, Red Mite Advice, Asian Hornets, Poultry Shield Offer, Gardening Tips”