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Category Archives: Coops

Get your Chickens and their Coop ready for Winter

Winter is coming. If you’re new to keeping chickens you might wonder what you can do for your chickens to keep them happy and healthy during winter. Most chicken breeds cope well in moderately cold temperatures as long as they have a well-insulated and dry coop. Chickens normally acclimatise themselves to the cold weather, so you shouldn’t worry too much about your chickens getting too cold, especially if you have an Eglu which is well insulated. In fact, chickens are able to adapt better to the cold than they are the heat. But why not give your chickens a bit of extra protection during the winter, if only for your own piece of mind.


The basics of any chicken coop and run in the winter

 

Weather Protection and insulation. The coop must be weatherproof. As said, most chicken breeds don’t mind the cold at all but they prefer not to get wet. The chicken coop should also be insulated enough that it remains warm inside even in the midst of winter. If you have an well-insulated Eglu chicken coop you can increase the level of protection against the most extreme temperatures with our range of insulating blankets and jackets.

Ventilation. A well ventilated chicken coop will ensure that plenty of fresh air gets inside the coop. This will keep the odours down and avoids moisture build-up. When a chicken coop is too tightly insulated, not only will it retain heat, it will also retain moisture. Just make sure the coop is draft-free.

Rising damp. Rising damp can also be an issue for chicken coops. Coops should be raised off the floor to prevent the base becoming damp. If your coop doesn’t have legs fitted, you can place bricks under the coop to allow air to circulate and reduce damp. Always make sure you place or build your chicken coop and run on high ground that won’t flood during heavy rain.

Size of the coop. Make sure your chicken coop is not too big for the amount of chickens you have. When the coop is too big, your chickens won’t create enough body heat to warm up the space. Chickens huddle together and keep each other warm, so they don’t need a lot of space. Try not to open the door of the coop at night when your chickens are roosting. Be mindful that their body heat is keeping them warm and by opening the coop you will let out the build-up warmth. If you do have a large coop/stable and just a few chickens, you can put a large cardboard box on its side, half filled with chopped straw/wood shavings in a corner to help them conserve their body heat.

Run. It’s important (a part of) the chicken run is covered with a winter shade. You can even build a kind of greenhouse style addition to your coop, covering it with clear plastic. This will give your chickens a bit more space on nice days. Another tip to prevent the area under the run becoming muddy is to cover the area with bark chippings. Mud is a breeding ground for poultry worms so muddy areas should always be avoided.

Perches. Give your chickens have plenty places to roost. To prevent their feet will get too cold, you’ll need to give your chickens a place to perch in both their coop and run. The perches need to be wide enough so that the chickens can cover their toes with their feathers. This will provide them with a little extra warmth which will save them from the bitter cold.

Cleaning. Keep your chicken coop clean and dry. Clean the droppings from inside the coop daily and replace the bedding as necessary. By keeping the coop both dry and clean, you will help to prevent dampness which can cause frostbite.

 

Also take care of…

Water. It is important your flock always has a source of fresh, unfrozen water. Depending on where you live this can be quite challenging. To prevent you have to keep rushing outside to swap over your drinkers every few hours, there are heated waterers. You can also wrap the drinkers up in a layer of bubble wrap to keep the water unfrozen for longer. Don’t place the water inside the coop, this can cause damp.

Feed. During winter your chickens feed consumption will typically be much higher than in the spring/summer. Often chickens enjoy warm feed, like cooked lentils or warm oatmeal with some raisins or other small dried fruits. Give your hens extra corn in the afternoon as this will heat them up internally as they digest it overnight. To encourage your chickens to keep laying eggs in the winter, always have a good amount of food available. Layer pellets have the right nutrients your chickens need throughout the winter.

Combs and Wattles. If it gets extremely cold across the winters your chickens’ combs and wattles can be in danger of getting frostbite. Most hardy chicken breeds have small combs, but if you have breeds with very large, floppy combs you will need to gently rub petroleum jelly onto their combs and wattles. You will also need to keep an eye out for coughs, colds and general symptoms of being unwell. Read our chicken breed directory to find out which birds are best suited to colder climates.

Vermin. Remember at this time of year, there are hungry rats and mice attracted to the chickens feed and water. Take extra care with the storage of your feeds. Store feed away from the coop and keep it in an airtight container. If you notice any signs of vermin, remove the feeders and drinkers at night.

Boredom. It is more likely your chickens will get bored in the winter, when there are no grass and weeds to munch and fewer bugs to feast on. This will lead to mischief, like feather pecking, egg eating etc. Prevent boredom by giving your chickens a Chicken Swings, perches, piles of leaves and/or a mirror. Read our blog “Keep your hens entertained!” for more non-food ideas for keeping your chickens busy.

 

Sources: Omlet Chicken guide, the British Hen Welfare Trust, My Pet Chicken, the Happy Chicken Coop, Fresh Eggs Daily, Poultrykeeper.com.

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This entry was posted in Chickens


How To Prevent and Treat Red Mite

A familiar problem for backyard chicken keepers and commercial enterprises for laying hens, is infestation of the birds’ environment with Dermanyssus gallinae, also known as red (poultry) mites. Compared to other poultry parasites such as fowl ticks, lice and flies, mites are by far the most common, most destructive and difficult to remove. Red mites are nocturnal parasites and hide themselves in all kinds of gaps and cracks during the daytime. This makes the treatment of red mites harder and more complicated.

 

SIGNS AND DIAGNOSIS

Red mites are up to 1mm in size. The title “Red” has been given to this mite as it turns from grey to red after it had a blood feed. Once the infestation becomes significant, your chickens will become anaemic. Their wattles and the combs will start looking pale and their egg production will drop significantly. Red mites also cause skin irritation, feather pecking, weight loss and restlessness in the flock. Because of the mites your chickens will probably be reluctant to go to bed, because that’s where the mites are!

When checking your chicken coop for red mites, check the perch’s at the end and cracks and crevices. An even easier way to check is to run a white paper towel underneath the perches at night. If there are red mites, at this time they will be on the underside on the perch after feeding on your chickens and you will be able to see red streaks on your paper towel.

 

PREVENTION

Prevention is always better than cure. But this is not always that simple. Wild birds or new chickens can transmit red mites to your coop. It’s a good idea to check for red mite routinely when you clean your chicken coop and use some preventative treatment to the coop. For example, you can use Diatomaceous earth as part of the weekly clean (DE is a 100% natural powder which dehydrates parasites it comes into contact with). All types of chicken coops can get red mite, however wooden coops tend to suffer from infestations the most.

Unfortunately red mites can survive for up to 10 months in an empty hen house, so leaving a coop empty for a while doesn’t usually fix the problem. Choosing your housing carefully can help prevent infestations. Omlet’s Eglu chicken coops are made from plastic which makes it very difficult for red mites to make a home. And in the event that there is a Red mite infestation, they are quick and easy to clean. A quick blast with a pressure washer should do the trick.

 

TREATMENT

 

1) Cleaning

If you find lots of red mite in the coop, it’s time for a big clean up. The initial clean out will take a couple of hours for wooden coops, with a plastic coop it will take less time. Remove all birds from the house and strip the house down as much as possible. If you have a felt roof you will need to remove this and have your coop re-felted.

 

2) Mite disinfectant detergent

Mix a mite disinfectant detergent (such as Smite Professional Disinfectant 1 Litre Concentrate or Barrier Red Mite X 500ml Concentrate) with water (using the manufacturer’s guidelines). Apply this to the coop ensuring you get it in the cracks and crevices, concentrating where there are perch ends and concentrations of red mite. Leave for 15-20 minutes.

 

3) High pressure hose

Use a hose (preferably high pressure) to hose down the coop and the parts. Try to get in every nook and cranny as this is where the mites like to live. Leave for 10-15 minutes to dry. After this you will most probably see more mites, which have been disturbed, crawling out. Repeat this process until there are very few mites emerging after each wash.

 

4) UV

Leave the house to thoroughly dry. It’s ideal to do the initial clean on a sunny day as the UV can kill some bacteria and will dry the house quicker. Put the coop back together and add bedding (dispose the old bedding in a plastic bag in a bin as the red mites will happily find somewhere else to live).

 

5) Red mite powder

Sprinkle the whole coop and your chickens with a red mite powder. Ensure you rub the powder onto the perches so any remaining mites will have to crawl through it to reach your chickens. Omlet stocks a large range of red mite powders and diatom powders to deal with red mite infestations.

 

6) Repeat red mite powder treatment

Re-apply the red mite powder every couple of days or when it has rubbed of. Red mite are only active during mild weather, so in the UK the red mite season usually falls between May and October. During the fall and winter, the mites become dormant and do not feed. But this doesn’t per se mean they are gone…

 

Sources: www.omlet.co.uk, www.poultryworld.net, www.accidentalsmallholder.net, www.wikivet.net, www.poultrykeeper.com

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This entry was posted in Chickens


Coops Dreams: A Dream Becoming a Reality

We have recently started working with the show Coop Dreams, providing them with a new setup of coops and runs for their farm. If you haven’t caught any of the episodes before we highly recommend that you check them out. Great source of knowledge if you’re thinking about keeping chickens and they also demonstrate problems and hurdles they come across in a funny and light hearted way, link is here.

In the meantime, we wanted to find out a bit more about where it all started and so Brad, the founder of Coop Dreams, has taken the time to explain to us, where and how this all began!

Soooooo…  We are often asked when and how the TV show Coop Dreams started and that’s a tough question to answer because it has its initial roots way back in 1999 but really blossomed in 2014.

In 1999 I was fortunate to be asked to serve as the national spokesperson for the charity ‘Keep America Beautiful’ and speaking about conservation, recycling and reducing carbon footprints on a daily basis…  That set the wheels in motion of recognizing the impact of the way we were living.  Lots of changes happened over the next decade but fast forward to 2014 when we bought some land and actually began our homestead.

Not having a solid knowledge of homesteading we started searching for videos, books and blogs to help us learn…  Admittedly I am NOT a ‘reader’ (Jackster is) and I do not process information well in that arena…  So I began looking for videos and everything I saw had perfectly manicured lawns and flowers and incredible landscaping…  Well that was pretty un-relateable and so we created a video series that would document our start for others…  Showing the successes as well as the failures so people can connect…  One thing led to another and pretty soon we were talking to the Discovery network about making it into a TV show…  And here we are in the early parts of shooting season 4.

With that we have moved from the city to a 32 acre farm and built a barn and a small house.  It has kind of exploded over these 4 years as we now have 3 dogs (2 rescues), 2 cats (That have walked out of the woods and adopted us), 3 horses, 4 goats and 36 chickens…  Plus all of the deer, raccoons, foxes and other critters we share the land with.

 

Homesteading with Coop Dreams – If I was pressed as to why we do this and what we enjoy about it I think it would be the ‘honesty’ of it all.  There is something very pure about raising your own food and caring for animals.  Additionally there are no games with the animals we share our farm with.  We love them and as long as we scratch backs and bring food – they love us.  It is pure, honest and very comforting…  I do not think I could go back to a life before this farm.

It doesn’t come without its challenges as with almost 50 animals we have to care for, someone is always sick or hurt…  Something always need to be fixed or repaired…  and there are NO days off.  Additionally it is tough to lose an animal, painful to see any suffer and stressful to know when any are not ‘right’.

 

The other challenges come from being a part of the TV show.  In being a true reality show we do not hide, script or cover anything up so our mistakes are out in the open for viewers and followers to judge, criticize and correct.  We are grateful that the Coop Dreams community, which continues to grow, has been very understanding and helpful in both our challenging and tough times.  I really think it is because it is so easy to see yourselves in us…  We are not tv people, we are not perfect and we are certainly not experts…  We are just a family that cares about their animals and are trying to live in a more compatible way with the environment.

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1 day…

She’s got the keys and it looks as though Mrs Barbara is ready to move in… 1 more sleep until we can reveal Mr and Mrs Barbara’s new home. Who’s eggcited?! #MovingDay

Pixelated3

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3 days….

Mr Barbara has followed the chickies and has managed to send us a clearer image of where they’re headed, he sounds very excited about it and can’t wait for you to see it.

“I can see clearly now”…..well not quite but almost there! Hang on, only 3 more days until the big reveal….

Pixelated2

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6 days…

It appears as though our little chickies have seen something intriguing….can you work out what it is? Their camera can’t quite pick out the details from this far away but we hope to bring you some clearer images as they get closer over the next few days.

#WatchThisSpace

Pixelated1

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This entry was posted in Chickens