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”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Pollinators, Wasps, Honey Flow, Requeening, Varroa Treatment

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.

In mid July, I was in the garage scraping some old frames and heard a hum. Rushing outside, I saw a medium sized swarm of bees in the middle of the garden which rapidly made off over the wall, across my neighbour’s garden and up and off far away at quite a speed as though they knew where they were going.

Bees on Goat's Rue
Bees on Goat’s Rue

Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Pollinators, Wasps, Honey Flow, Requeening, Varroa Treatment”

Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Lammas Festival and Rowan Berries

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.

The beginning of August is noted for the ancient Celtic festival of ‘Lammas’ or ‘Lughnasadh’. It is a celebration of the harvest time & the subsequent baking of bread from the first wheat brought in from the fields and the making of traditional corn dollies.

Rowan Berries
Rowan Berries

Seed was kept from the ripened wheat & stored to sow again the following year. Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Lammas Festival and Rowan Berries”

Our Local Weather Forecast For August 2017

After a long, relatively, settled period the weather has definitely changed. The jet stream has pushed south and is currently running across the centre of the UK which means, generally speaking, unsettled weather is brought in from the west rather than warm air from the south and east.

August weather forecast
Our apples have benefited from this year’s weather

Our pigs are loving having a bit more water – their wallow is well used but of course bees don’t like windy and wet weather.

So to the next few weeks; the coming Saturday is likely to see a continuation of sunshine and showers although we’ll get less rain and more sun down here in Sussex. Continue reading “Our Local Weather Forecast For August 2017”

This Month’s Pest Feature – Wasps – Making Wasp 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 Wasp traps.

Wasp Trap
Wasp Trap

Wasps are starting to build up in numbers so bee keepers should start taking precautions to prevent them from robbing their hives.

To make a simple wasp trap all you need is a jam jar with a metal lid. Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Feature – Wasps – Making Wasp Traps”

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”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather

Bee on Thalictrum flafum
Bee on Thalictrum Flafum

Planting for Bees
In late June I went to RHS Wisley on a sunny day. Salvias and Nepeta were very popular with the bees for nectar and I came home with two varieties from the plant shop, which had the most bees on. Lots of bees were collecting pollen from the yellow pompoms of Thalictrum flavum;  Meadow Rue so it looks like I shall have to locate a plant or seed of that too. Of course, the ‘drifts’ at Wisley are spectacular but my pots look good on my patio.
Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather”

Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Butterflies and Nectar Plants

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.

I always enjoy July in the gardens as by now we can enjoy & savour the life all around us.

Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfly

Continue reading “Ian’s Gardening Tales From The Weald – Butterflies and Nectar Plants”

This Month’s Pest Feature – The Feral Pigeon

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 Feral Pigeons.

Feral Pigeon
The Feral Pigeon

Feral Pigeons originate from cliff nesting Rock Doves so now they look upon all types of buildings as nothing more than a fancy cliff. They require little nesting
material sometimes only a pile of droppings with just a few twigs. They will start laying in early spring and usually produce 2 eggs 4 times a season.

Continue reading “This Month’s Pest Feature – The Feral Pigeon”

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”

A Poultry MOT Checklist – Jason’s First Chicken Health Article In Home Farmer Magazine

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”

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”