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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

Recurring Mitemares – Jason’s Third Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

Are you suffering from re-occurring red ‘mitemares’?!

Although an incredibly difficult problem to solve 100%, this month through practical advice and my own experiences, I’ll be aiming to get you as close to that goal as possible and hopefully have you sleeping a bit easier!

Red Mite Under Microscope
Red Mite Under Microscope

What is Red Mite?

I guess any new poultry keepers reading this may well be wondering what we are talking about here, well, we are talking about (in my opinion): ‘poultry enemy No.1’ – The Red Spider Mite. Continue reading “Recurring Mitemares – Jason’s Third Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”

Defra Lifts Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Across England

It is strongly recommended that all keepers – whether they have commercial flocks or a few birds in their back garden – continue to follow good practice on biosecurity despite the Prevention Zone being lifted – to reduce the risk of infection, including minimising movement in and out of bird enclosures, cleaning footwear, keeping areas where birds live clean and tidy and feeding birds inside.

All disease control measures are kept under review based on the latest scientific evidence and veterinary advice. Poultry gatherings across England can now go ahead, subject to some additional identity and health checks and biosecurity measures, now that the Prevention Zone has been lifted.

Defra Lisfts Prevention Zone - Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red

If your birds are housed it is especially important to  Continue reading “Defra Lifts Avian Influenza Prevention Zone Across England”

Summer Shows, Competition Results, Golden Quail, Home Farmer Article

The year is rushing along quickly, our main Spring / Summer shows are now behind us, the weather has been kind and we all had great fun. Thanks to all those who came along to say hello. As usual it is good to see both new and familiar faces at the shows. At the end of the South of England show we even managed to get us all together for a team photo – looking a little hot and tired after a long weekend, but it was a nice chance to all be in the same place at the same time – something that doesn’t happen often when we are juggling the shop, animals and shows, so many thanks to all the guys for their hard work, we couldn’t do it without them!

The Mantel Farm Team at the South of England summer shows 2017
The Mantel Farm Team – Click the image to see more pictures of us at the 2017 South of England show

This year we ran 2 competitions at the show to celebrate the South of England’s 50th Anniversary. A “guess the number of golden eggs” competition and a “guess the weight of honey” competition at this summer shows.

Continue reading “Summer Shows, Competition Results, Golden Quail, Home Farmer Article”

Defra To Lift Restrictions In England – Poultry Keeping

After months of imposed restrictions by Defra due to the avian influenza it looks as though these are to be lifted as of Monday the 15th of May.

Defra update - Chickens Allowed Outside
Chickens allowed outside

Defra has published the following statement on their news page: “Based on the latest risk assessment, the Chief Vet has confirmed that we expect to lift the existing Avian Influenza Prevention Zone on 15 May 2017 and replace it with a new Prevention Zone that will apply only to certain areas of Lancashire, Cumbria and Merseyside. After that date, keepers within the new Prevention Zone covering the districts of Barrow-in-Furness, South Lakeland, Lancaster, Blackpool, Wyre, Fylde, Preston, Sefton, West Lancashire, South Ribble and Chorley will still be required by law to follow specific disease prevention measures to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds; keepers outside the new Prevention Zone should continue to follow industry best practice on biosecurity.” Continue reading “Defra To Lift Restrictions In England – Poultry Keeping”

Chickens Free Range – Defra Update: Removal Of Housing Requirement In Higher Risk Areas

After many months of patient vigilance, chicken keepers and other poultry keepers everywhere can breathe a little more easily today. It has been announced by Defra that as of Thursday 13th April 2017, all poultry inside the “Higher Risk Areas of England” can once again be allowed outside to roam – chickens free range as nature intended. There remains the need for strict biosecurity measures to be in force, and all poultry gatherings are still banned until further notice, but with fingers (and wings) crossed the scare we have all had since December 2016 is coming to an end.

Our chickens free range, they're so happy to be allowed outside again following the Defra restrictions being lifted.
Our chickens allowed outside again

Continue reading “Chickens Free Range – Defra Update: Removal Of Housing Requirement In Higher Risk Areas”

Poultry Keeping – Looking Ahead to Spring

I really can’t believe it’s March already! With the spring equinox only a few days ahead of us on the 20th of March, it seems as though this year is just flying past.

Spring: Daffodils at Mantel Farm
Spring: Daffodils at Mantel Farm

Here on the farm I’ve been seeing so many signs of spring: Daffodils springing up; our peacock has been proudly showing off his newly grown tail feathers and his hen has come back into lay; our Chamois hens have come back into lay along with many others such as our Brahma, and our bees are out flying and returning with pollen from various sources.

Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Looking Ahead to Spring”

Poultry Keeping – Defra Update: What It Means For You

We have all been waiting for the news that it is OK to let our hens free range, and its great news that from the 28th February Defra have lifted the general prevention zone measures across the country, however strict bio-security measures still need to be maintained and there are still localised high risk zones where poultry and captive birds must remain housed away from wild birds.  Such areas close to us are the Pevensey Levels and Rye Marshes, where the risk from wild/migratory birds is still considered higher.

Defra Update Map of restricted areas
Defra Update: Map of restricted areas

Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Defra Update: What It Means For You”

Poultry Keeping – Egg Laying During The Winter Months

It’s absolutly crazy to think that we’re already into the second month of 2017, but time ‘flies’ when you’re keeping chickens! Okay… Enough of the bad puns. Though, the lack of daylight and cold weather can really affect their egg laying.

Free Range Eggs For Sale At Mantel Farm
Free Range Eggs For Sale At Mantel Farm

I’ve definitely noticed the evenings staying lighter for longer and so have my girls. I believe that they noticed the change in the day length very shortly after the shortest day (December 21st) as I started getting eggs again just a few days after. This makes total sense given that they spend plenty of time exposed to daylight so they’re able to have a well calibrated circadian rhythm. It was ever so exciting to collect that first egg after months of none at all.

Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Egg Laying During The Winter Months”

Poultry Keeping – Cold Weather, Food and Water

Cold weather can be a problem for our birds: we’ve had some very hard frosts over the past few weeks – it even snowed!

Cold Weather for Poultry Keeping
Cold Weather for Poultry Keeping

Frostbite:
Its worth bearing in mind that if daytime temperatures stay below freezing then large combed birds or birds with large wattles can get a touch of frostbite and this is most uncomfortable. The most noticeable symptom of this is darkened /black areas on the comb or wattle. One of the preventative measures, other than keeping them inside (something that you may already be doing due to the Avian Influenza), is to apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the comb or wattle. Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Cold Weather, Food and Water”

Chicken Health Advice – DEFRA Updates

Unfortunately this chicken keeping year has gotten off to a bad start with the outbreak of Avian Influenza (bird flu). DEFRA has extended the prevention zone measures until the 28th of February 2017. In light of this, please follow their chicken health advice. I’m sure I don’t need to preach to you the importance of keeping your birds inside if possible or under netting to prevent wild birds getting too close to your flock. I’m also sure that you’re keeping feeders and drinkers inside or under shelter to stop wild birds defecating in them.

For the latest updates visit – www.gov.uk/government/news/avian-influenza-bird-flu-in-winter-2016-to-2017

Biolink Bi-OO-cyst DEFRA approved for chicken health advice
Biolink Bi-OO-Cyst 1 Litre Bottle – £16.00

Second to all of this is keeping everything disinfected. It is a good habit and good practice to disinfect wellies before entering your run and, if big enough, your chicken house. Continue reading “Chicken Health Advice – DEFRA Updates”

Poultry Keeping – Josh’s Introduction

Josh holds a bantam and tells us about his poultry keeping adventures
Josh holding a bantam

Living in a residential area, it used to be pretty uncommon to have a flock of birds in your back garden; however, my parents decided, being that they were very much into self-sufficiency at the time, to begin their poultry keeping adventures by getting six point of lay chickens. I was only young at the time, but I have fond memories of collecting the eggs and listening to their relaxing chatter. I can still remember my excitement at hearing the vociferous clucking of the hens as they laid their eggs each day. Their house was a good distance from our house, but it could still be heard clearly at the bottom of the garden. Continue reading “Poultry Keeping – Josh’s Introduction”