GOOD MORNING WORLD! or in the words of our favourite cockerel ‘cock-a-doodle-doo!!’. It’s a crisp February morning, and as winter moves (hopefully) into its final month our Gold Brahma cockerel, ‘Solar’, belts it out like a ship coming into dock!, announcing the start of another new day.
After many years in poultry keeping it would be hard for me to pick a favourite breed, however if you were to pin me down, it would have to be the Brahma, though definitely not suitable for everyone mostly due to their huge size and lack of egg numbers, the almost guaranteed placid nature and beautiful markings makes them a very attractive pet bird. Over many years Solar has literally been a star at Mantel Farm, often being allowed to wander around in our shop, minding his own business, allowing children to stroke him, and often attending events and shows with us, creating quite a stir, many people saying ‘ they never knew that there was such a large chicken!’. Continue reading “An Introductory Guide To Cockerels – Jason’s Eighth Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”
It was early one very cold January morning, many years ago when I learned something about keeping poultry that I have passed on (not so much as advice, but) as a warning to many other keepers.
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 health 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”
Everyone loves the thought of that ‘magic answer’ – something many seek when it comes to introducing new birds into an existing flock!
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”
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!)
So what does this seasonal change mean to the poultry keeper?
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!)
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!
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!
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.
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!
MOT checklist – Driving Miss Daisy (& Henrietta too!)
A brief intro to who’s doing the talking – my name is Jason Weller, together with my wife Kerry and two sons we run Mantel Farm in East Sussex as a ‘Garden Farming’ business, concentrating mainly on the small scale livestock side, specialising in poultry & bees. We sell a wide range of poultry, feed, equipment, runs, housing / hives, provide a range of training courses, also having a poultry and small animal boarding service, which we established in 2007. Continue reading “A Poultry MOT Checklist – Jason’s First Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine”
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 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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cold weather can be a problem for our birds: we’ve had some very hard frosts over the past few weeks – it even snowed!
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”
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.
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”