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How to Chicken Proof Your Yard

It’s a lovely summers day, the sun is out, the colorful flowers in your backyard are in full bloom, the bees are buzzing, the vegetables are thriving, raspberries just waiting for you to pick and eat them straight from the bush and a nice refreshing breeze of air blows lightly through the rustling leaves – and carries something rather peculiar with it.

Cluck, Cluck.

Years ago almost everyone knew this noise from their own back yard.

Cluck.

Nowadays a lot of people have only heard it in stories or even in the petting zoo.

Cluck, Cluck.

This time though, the clucking is the most relaxing noise you could imagine, turning this beautiful day into perfection. Your happy little flock of backyard chickens, happily clucking away in your beautiful yard, supplying you with fresh, tasty eggs every day.

Does this sound somewhat too good to be true? A beautiful backyard with flowers, vegetables and even berries that is not completely scratched and ruined from the chickens living in it? Is that even possible?

Yes, it is! And we will tell you how you can make your dream of keeping chickens and still having a beautiful yard a reality.

It might require a little bit of planning, but with these tips, you and your chickens can enjoy a lovely, well cared for yard together.

Free Range Chickens or Secure Chicken Run

The easiest way to keep your yard in a pristine condition is to keep your chickens in an enclosed area. With a spacious chicken run, you are able to keep the chickens in that area and they will not be able to dig up your precious vegetables.

This however might not be an option for everyone due to the garden shape, size or sloped areas. It would then be best to offer the chickens a secure run for the daytime and let them out to free range once you are back from work.

Yard Size

The most important thing to consider is how much room you have in your garden that you would like to offer to the chickens. That determines how many chickens you can keep, without the ladies taking over your yard entirely.

The more space you can offer them, the less damage they will cause – their scratching will then not just affect a small area, instead they will be able to forage for food and scratch out mossy areas in your lawn as well as getting rid of pests like slugs, snails and caterpillars in a wider area, therefore not destroying the lawn but actually keeping it healthy.

If you account for about 20 sqm per chicken in the yard, they will usually not cause much damage to the lawn.

Chicken Breed

Another important factor to consider is the breed of chicken you choose.

Hybrids usually cause the most damage, as they are constantly looking for food and need a constant energy supply due to the demand of producing an egg almost every day. Hybrids are generally hardy birds that are easy for first time chicken keepers. However, a better choice for a beautiful back yard are calm purebred chickens.

Depending on what you look for in a chicken, and if the eggs are not the most important part of your chicken parenting journey, bantam breeds are generally very nice and docile birds to keep in the garden. Their small size alone often prevents them from doing too much damage. Seramas and Cochins as well as Pekin Bantams and Silkies make lovely, friendly pets and are known to be fairly kind to your garden. Their eggs are generally very small. 2-3 eggs would usually make up the equivalent of one medium sized egg.

If you’d rather have a sizeable breakfast egg, Bantam Orpingtons would be a fantastic choice. They are very calm birds, don’t fly and are simply round and fluffy, perfect, friendly chickens. Due to the big size of regular Orpingtons, the Bantams seem more like a medium sized chicken and lay medium sized eggs. They come in a variety of colours and are a favourite of many.

Securing flower beds and veggie plots

An easy way to keep plants safe is a home made hoop house covered in plastic or netting, that will keep chickens out without difficulty.

If that’s not an option, you could try to install raised beds in your yard. Most chickens don’t seem too interested in foraging for food above head level, so they tend to leave plants in raised planters alone for the most part and the plants can thrive in their beautiful wooden planters. Raised gardens make easy, back friendly gardening possible and more enjoyable.

Should you not have raised beds or want hoops around your plants, we would recommend a mobile fencing option to allow your chickens to roam freely, yet not show off their landscaping skills on your veggie plot. The mobile Chicken Fencing from Omlet is ideal to keep chickens out of certain areas.  The new and improved fencing blends into your garden and is available as a 39, 69, 105 & 138 ft roll. This movable chicken fencing is much easier to install than chicken wire and features many benefits such as tangle proof netting, adjustable poles and reflective badges to help you find the gate at night.

Omlet’s flexible chicken fencing comes with an inbuilt gate which features a newly redesigned catch that is stronger and more comfortable to use. You can also set the width of the gate opening to your preferred size making it easy to get in and out to feed your chickens. Another great feature of the gate is that you can position it wherever you want within the layout you have chosen, you can put it at any end, the middle or anywhere else. The width of the gate opening can also be adjusted to suit.

With an overall height of 4.1ft, (which is taller than most chicken fencing), you can be confident that even the most determined of your feathered friends won’t make a great escape! The poles of the fence are also adjustable to ensure that the netting remains tight and secure at all times.

Offer a “chicken spa” area

Chickens love to dig up dry soil under bushes to then enjoy a lovely dustbath in the sheltered, shady area. Allow them to find their favourite spot, or plant some chicken friendly bushes in an area you are happy to devote to your chickens, and they will most likely not think about any other plants. A chicken spa like that will not only keep your girls feathers in beautiful condition but keep them in good spirits and happy moods.

Keep an eye on your chickens

The best and safest time for your chickens to free range is usually when you are with them in the garden and can keep an eye on them. This allows you to keep them from causing too much mischief by throwing a handful of tasty corn in an area as far away as possible from flowers and veggies. My lively bunch of ladies will then loudly proclaim their excitement and run to gather all the tasty treats. This will usually keep them preoccupied for at least 30 mins.

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What to Consider before Rescuing a Cat

Are you thinking about adopting a kitten or rescue cat? That’s great – but it’s important to ensure you are completely prepared to provide the care they need first.

Many cats still find themselves placed into rescue centres (whether for the first time or the sixth) when new owners change their mind about their new pet. This is incredibly distressing for the cat, and can put already-busy rescue centres in a difficult situation. Ask yourself the questions below and check you and your home is completely ready for a new furry family member.

Should I buy or rescue a cat?

Before going ahead with buying a kitten from a breeder, it is important to remember there are lots of cats in rescue centres across the country, waiting for their furever homes, including cats of all ages and breeds.

We strongly encourage enquiring with your local cat rescue homes before making a decision. These cats may have been through a tough time and initially be very shy and reserved, but most rescue cats make a full recovery and see a drastic change in their personalities when they are in a safe home and have bonded with their new owner.

Is my home, garden and neighbourhood safe for a cat?

Think about where your home is located. Some rescue cat centres do not allow adoption if you live near a busy road – and for good reason. Some skittish cats can put themselves in danger and there is a risk of injury in a busy street. Consider whether your current home is really suitable and safe for a cat to be going outdoors. If not, are you able to provide an alternative, secure outdoor space for them to play and exercise, such as an Outdoor Cat Run?

Within your home, do you have other animals who could respond negatively to a new furry resident? Only rescue a cat that you know will be okay with other pets and children in your household, and likewise only if you know the existing residents will welcome a new four-legged family member.

Can I offer a secure space for the cat to feel comfortable?

For rescue cats, having their own space to hide when they get scared or anxious is incredibly important. Does your home have plenty of hiding spaces for your new cat to disappear to when it all gets too much?

Are you able to provide a cosy cat cave for your new pet to sleep and rest in complete peace and security? The Maya Nook Indoor Cat House is the ideal den for nervous cats to be tucked away in, as the curtains provide a completely secluded space. Learn more about how the Maya Nook could help settle your rescue cat into your new home here.

Am I willing to provide a rescue cat with the support they need?

Seeing the transformation in your rescue cat’s personality is incredibly rewarding, but first you need to be sure that you can provide the patience and support needed for them to settle in to your home and feel at ease.

If you have a full time job, you may need to consider taking some time off to settle them into your home, get them used to their surroundings, litter tray and neighbourhood. If the household has children, you will need to prepare them to be gentle and quiet with the new cat.

Most rescue cats are discharged from rescue homes with a full bill of health, but on the odd occasion some cats may need a few more vet visits, or even repeat medication. If you rescue such a cat, you must be prepared to accept the cost and commitment required to provide the healthcare they need.

What will I need to settle a rescue cat into my home as smoothly as possible?

  • Litter tray, litter, scoop
  • Bed(s)
  • Food – speak to rescue centre about what food the cat has responded to best, e.g. wet or dry
  • Food and water bowls
  • Treats
  • Toys – again the rescue centre may know what they have liked
  • Cat carrier
  • Calming products 
  • Outdoor enclosure for indoor cats

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How do Chickens Lay Eggs?

STEP ONE: LIGHT

The process of egg laying starts in the chicken’s eye. Sunlight enters the eye and activates a photosensitive gland, the pineal gland, located right next to the eye. This in turn triggers a process that releases an egg, or oocyte, from the chicken’s ovary. This light sensitivity is one of the reasons that hens lay less eggs in winter.

STEP TWO: THE YOLK
Hens are born with two ovaries, but one of them stops working straight after the chick has been born. It is believed that this is to save on both energy and weight, and as long as the other ovary is working, one is plenty!

1. Ovary, 2. Infundibulum, 3. Oviduct, 4. Magnum & isthmus, 5. Uterus, 6. Cloaca

The ovary contains thousands of potential eggs, or ovum as they are also known. If you were to open up a chicken, these undeveloped ova can be seen at the start of the spine. When the chicken is old enough to start laying, some of these ova begin to mature into what is later becoming the yolk. At this stage the ova are separated and contained within their own follicles, but when one is ready to move on it releases its follicle and moves out of the ovary and down the reproductive tract, the oviduct.

This process, ovulation, occurs approximately every 25 hours, and normally starts again about an hour after the previous egg has been laid.

STEP THREE: THE WHITE

Via the infundibulum the yolk enters the oviduct, and it is here that the egg is fertilised if a rooster has courted your hen. You might have noticed that egg yolks have a small, white spot on them. This is the blastodisc, the single female cell that together with the sperm will develop into an embryo through cell division.

The journey of the egg is however exactly the same regardless of whether it’s been fertilised or not. The yolk travels through the magnum and isthmus parts of the oviduct, and this is where the egg white (also called the albumen) is created. It works as a thin membrane around the yolk that holds everything together. The chalazae, two spiral bands of tissue, makes sure that the yolk is evenly positioned within the albumen, and the whole thing starts looking like an egg, although missing a quite crucial part – the shell!

STEP FOUR: THE SHELL
The egg receives its shell in the uterus, thanks to the shell gland. It takes roughly 20 hours to produce the shell, so this is the most time consuming part of the process. Before the egg moves on for the last time, the outermost layer, known as the bloom or cuticle, is formed to create a anti-microbial layer.  When the egg is ready, the shell gland pushed the egg out of the oviduct and in to the cloaca, the part where the reproductive and excretory tracts meet.

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How to Understand your Hamster’s Body Language

Hamsters make excellent pets – they’re fun, cute, and relatively easy to care for. Their cuddly credentials have made them popular pets all over the world. Hamsters bring a lot of joy to a lot of people, but how can we tell our hamster is happy too, or not? Like all animals, hamsters have the ability to communicate with one another and with their owners. They use body language much like we do and can display a range of emotions that include being happy, afraid, threatened, curious, startled, angry and many other emotions.

 

Stretching and yawning: yawning is often a sign your hamster is feeling comfortable and relaxed, rather than being very sleepy. If your hamster stretches as he yawns, this is even more proof that he is a very relaxed hamster.

Freezing: this involves your hamster staying in one position, sometimes for a few minutes. Its ears are straight up and he is completely stiff to the touch. There are lots of potential reasons for hamsters to stop moving temporarily: they can freeze both out of fear and surprise, or they can pause their movement so that they can listen more carefully to something that they’re unsure about.

Sitting up on back legs, ears forward: something has captured his attention. Your hamster is standing on its hind legs to see and hear better.

Grooming: hamsters spend a large amount of their time grooming themselves. When a hamster grooms itself, washing its feet, hands and fur, it means that he is feeling secure and happy.

Chewing: if your hamster keeps biting the bars of its cage, then there may be some things that you need to do to improve your pet’s life. Gnawing on the bars of the cage can indicate one of a number of things, including boredom, a lack of space, or overgrown teeth.

Biting: hamsters can bite when they’re scared, when they’re stressed, or when they’re confused. if your hamster bites you, then there’s almost certainly a reason for it. Maybe your hamster is in pain, or simply uncertain how to react to you. Never get angry at your hamster but try to understand the reason behind his behavior.

Ears folded back, eyes half closed: your hamster has just woken up and is still sleepy. It is best not to take out your hamster out of its cage until it has woken up fully.

Running: hamsters are born to run. In their natural habitat they can run up to 5 miles per night! It’s therefore important that hamsters kept as pets have the opportunity to run, usually provided by a wheel. Hyperactivity and repetitive behavior, on the other hand, can also be a sign of stress. A stressed hamster will move constantly, run on his wheels quickly, try and climb his cage and appears more nervous and alert than usual.

 

All hamsters will have their own personalities. Spend time watching your hamster and get to know his personality and mannerisms. As you get to know your pet, you’ll be able to recognize when they are their usual selves, and when they are not. Observing your hamster’s body language is a great way to be more “in tune” with the needs of your pet, which can be crucial to their health and well being. Visit our extensive hamster guide at the bottom of this page for more information about hamster and tips on how to keep them healthy and happy.

Sources: Omlet hamster guide, Hamsters as Pets, Caring Pets, Pet Central

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Deep-cleaning an Eglu Go or Eglu Go Up with a Steam Cleaner

Using a steam cleaner to clean any Eglu can be a very effective way. It will not affect the plastic, whereas all surfaces are cleaned, disinfected, and all killed mites, insects and dust are blown away by the power of the steam. As a bonus the surfaces will be dry in no time, because the plastic is warmed up.

Deep-cleaning an Eglu Go once or twice a year is extra easy if one follows these steps:

1. Take of the top panel (lid)

2. Unscrew both side panels and bumpers, and take these off as well. For a complete cleaning you may want to disconnect the run as well.

3. You now have access to all inner and outer surfaces. Clean them thoroughly with the steam cleaner, if required using an old dish brush as well.

4. Clean the bumpers, panels and top lid in the same way.

5. Re-assemble the run and the coop.

This cleaning method has been used for several years now by our Dutch team-member and is guaranteed to keep your Eglu in top condition, without damaging any parts!

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Fun and Mentally Stimulating Ways to Feed your Dog

For most pet dogs meal time isn’t very challenging time of the day. Typically owners only put the food bowl down and leave them to it. If this suits you and your dog that’s absolutely fine, but they would without a doubt not have been served food in this way in the wild. Instead they would have had to scavenge and hunt for their meals, keeping both mind and body active. If you feel like you would like to challenge your dog and enrich their daily routine, then making some changes to their meal times can be a good start.

Adding more mental stimulation to your dog’s life can have several benefits. It keeps them busy and tires them out in a similar way to a long walk. Many dog owners forget about challenging their dogs mentally, and when they encounter problems with boredom and linked behavioral issues like chewing, pacing, jumping and barking, they just presume they need to increase the physical exercise. This helps, but it doesn’t satisfy your dog’s hunger for mental stimulation.

Mentally stimulated dogs are not as hyperactive, and they tend to adapt more easily to stress. This is useful if you’ve got a very worried pup who shows aggression towards other dogs walking past the house, struggles with separation anxiety or gets stressed during thunderstorms or fireworks.

Brain games are therefore a brilliant way of tiring your dog out for the evening, or before you leave for work in the morning. By combining this with their normal feeding time, it won’t take much longer than normal, and your dog will love the extra challenge. Additionally you don’t have to worry about giving your dog too many treats as they are rewarded with food they would have eaten anyway.

So what are some fun ways of mentally stimulating your dog during meal times?

The aim is that it should take your dog 10-15 minutes to finish their food. Make sure you supervise your dog the first few times you’re trying a new way of feeding.

Our first tip is nose work. Using their nose comes naturally to dogs, and searching for their food will definitely add stimulation to their daily routine. Scatter the food in the garden so that your dog will have to sniff around to find it. You can also do this indoors, but it might be good to choose a room that’s easy to clean and where the pieces of food won’t get stuck under furniture. If you want to make it even more challenging you can hide little heaps of food under a bush, on a window sill or behind some flower pots. If your dog doesn’t get the game, start with something that smells a bit more than their normal dry food.

Our second suggestion is puzzles and food dispensing toys. The Classic Kong is the most well known food dispensing toy, but you can also find treat balls and complicated puzzles that provide your dog with a harder challenge before they are rewarded with food. The idea with most of these is that your dog will have to move the toy around the floor or press certain parts of the toy to make the food fall out. Dogs absolutely love this, and as they get rewarded again and again it can keep them entertained for hours.

If you don’t want to buy toys you can make some yourself. Try putting the food in a cereal box and taping it shut, in a toilet roll with folded sides, or in a plastic bottle with some holes cut out where the food can fall out. This can get a bit messy, and definitely noisy, but it’s worth it when you see your dog running around trying to get into the box, tail wagging with excitement.

You can also use mealtime as an opportunity to practice tricks and teach your dog new ones. Don’t ask your dog to do the same tricks every meal time, as it will just become a part of the routine, and not challenging or mentally stimulating. By using this time for training you are able to give your dog more than just the one treat at a time, as it’s the food he or she is supposed to eat anyway. This will form a stronger positive association, and your dog might learn faster.

Another thing you can do to change the daily routine is to change the texture of the food. If your dog normally gets wet food, try freezing it into little discs or cubes that they will love crunching on. If your dog gets dry food you can mush it up with a bit of yogurt or water. It’s all about novelty and enriching your dog’s daily routine!

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How To Convince Your Family to Let You Get Chickens

Whether you’re trying to convince your partner, housemate or parents to let you keep chickens, fear not, we have all the tricks of the trade to help get them on your side. Most importantly you are going to want to house your chicken in an Eglu, therefore immediately some of their reservations about chickens will be eliminated by the unique and innovative design features.

The Omlet guide for convincing anyone that you need to get chickens!


🥚 Chickens take up too much space

🐥 Answer: Chickens come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including bantams which would be happy even in the smallest garden.

 

🥚 Chickens smell bad

🐥 Answer: Chickens smell lovely but their poo is a bit unpleasant. That’s why the Eglu is so easy to clean, in less than 5 minutes you can have it smelling like roses.

 

🥚 Chickens make a lot of mess

🐥 Answer: All Eglus are easy to move and chickens actually improve the grass by raking out moss and fertilizing it.

 

🥚 We have lots of predators

🐥 Answer: Eglus are predator proof, we’ve even had bears try and fail to get in. Foxes, badgers and birds of prey are all put off by the anti-tunnel skirt and tamper proof design.

 

🥚 We won’t be able to go on holiday!

🐥 Answer: Chickens live outdoors and you can leave them for a weekend with enough food and water. For longer periods your friends or neighbours will be happy to come and check on them, especially if they can help themselves to the fresh eggs.


Here’s some fail safe tricks you can try that should help nudge them in the right direction:

 

🐓 Subtle hints – Start leaving cutouts from the Omlet brochure or pictures from our website around the house. Particularly successful spots include the fridge door, bathroom mirror and on top of their pillow.

 

🐓 Taste test – Get a farm fresh egg and also a store bought egg, do a taste test showing the difference in both colour and taste.

 

🐓Rescuing hens – Show them success stories from rescue hen charities and explain how you can save these birds and give them a happy home.

 

🐓 They eat bugs – Chickens are great little workers, so long as you keep moving them about your garden they’ll eat all the nasty bugs and ticks that you can’t seem to get rid of.

 

🐓 Friendly pets – People will be surprised to find out that chickens are actually very friendly pets, each with their own personalities. See if you can find a friend who already has chickens that you can introduce your loved one to so they can have the opportunity to ‘hug a hen’ and see for themselves how nice these animals are. Alternatively local farms and petting zoos will most probably have chickens you can go to see.

 

🐓 Start ‘hypothetically’ naming them – Start giving your soon-to-be chickens names. Try and get your loved ones involved in the brainstorm and then they’ll start to see how much fun you can have. Hen Solo, Princess Lay-a, Cluck Rogers… the list goes on!

 

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8 Quotes Every Chicken Keeper Can Relate To

1. ”I’m thinking of selling the TV, I just watch the chickens anyway.”

 

2. “I’m feeling a bit low today, so I’m just going to hang out with the chickens for a bit.”

 

3. “Yes, we had a lovely holiday. But I spent most of it worrying about my chickens.”

 

4. “Sorry I’m late, I just had to check on my chickens before I left.”

 

5. “I tried to have a lie in this morning, but my chickens were hungry.”

 

6. “A day when I don’t get to hug a chicken is not a day worth living.”

 

7. Colleagues: So, have you got any exciting plans for the weekend?
Me: Chickens.

 

8. Me then: 3 sounds like a good number of chickens.
Me now: 🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓

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How to give your rabbits more space with Zippi

Rabbits are designed to run, and they love hurtling around on the grass, sprinting back and forth and doing big jumps in the air. In the wild, rabbits will run about 3 miles every day, and it’s important to make sure your pet rabbit gets sufficient exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Rabbits who are confined to their hutch for most of the day will soon get bored, and will often eat too much, which can lead to obesity. Overweight rabbits will struggle to move the way they want to, and are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular diseases and joint pain. Bored rabbits also tend to over groom themselves, and can get problems with hairballs.

You might not be able to give your rabbit a 3 mile run every day, but you should make sure that he or she gets at least 3 hours outside the hutch, so that they can stretch their legs and explore and socialise. The more space you can give them the better. Unless you have a very rabbit proof garden and keep an eye on your pets at all times, letting them run free in the garden is not a good idea. Rabbits are escape artists, and will find ways to get through the safest of garden fences or gates. They also run the risk of predator attacks, and ingesting something poisonous.

A good way of making sure your rabbits get enough exercise is to have hutch that is connected to a run, so that your pet can move in and out of the hutch whenever he or she wants to, like the Eglu Go. You can extend the run to make it bigger, but there is now also another way of giving your rabbits more space.

Omlet’s Zippi runs are cleverly designed playpens for rabbits and guinea pigs that allow you and your kids to spend time with your pets as they are enjoying a new patch of grass in the garden. The optional roof and underfloor mesh keeps the rabbits safe if you want to keep them in the run while you’re not around, and the skirt stops predators from digging in. The runs can easily be moved when the rabbits have trimmed the grass in one area, so you won’t have to get the mower out every weekend!

 

Many people find moving their rabbits between the run and the hutch a very stressful part of the day. You want your rabbit to have a run around, but you probably don’t fancy chasing them around the run for half an hour every evening when it’s time to go back in. This can be solved with the Zippi tunnel system. If you’ve decided to give your rabbits more space with a new run, you can easily connect these to their hutch and create your own system that the rabbits will love running in, as it’s a version of the warrens they would have created in the wild. The fact is that rabbits who have the freedom of moving in and out of their hutch as they please will happily go back inside by themselves when night falls, and then all you have to do it close the door that gives access to the tunnels.

Make sure you furnish your pets’ new run or play pen with things you know they will love. Maybe you want to give them a few more hideaways? A digging pit? Or maybe a few boredom busting toys to gnaw on.

You can see all the different versions of out Zippi runs and play pens on our website, so that you can find one that suits both you and your pets!

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Step by Step to Hatching Chicks

As long as your chickens are laying, you can hatch and incubate chicks all year round. However, traditionally the most popular time to breed your own chickens is in the spring.
Hatching and rearing your own chicks from eggs is an incredibly exciting and rewarding process. There is nothing better than seeing your tiny chicks grow up in the knowledge that they are getting the best possible life from start to finish.The incubation period for chicken eggs is usually 21 days. The most reliable way to incubate your fertilised eggs and maximise the chance that they will hatch into healthy chicks is to use an artificial incubator. Here’s our step-by-step guide to hatching chicks:

1. Long Term Plan

Before the hatching starts, you will need to have a plan in place as to what you are going to do with the chickens once they hatch. It is a safe estimate that 25-50% of eggs will not hatch due to either not being fertilized or due to some mishaps during incubation. Among those which will hatch, approximately 50% will be cockerels and 50% will be hens. Everybody wants hens and hardly anyone needs cockerels, so there is a question of what to do with the latter. In many breeds, cockerels do not tolerate each other and they will fight vigorously unless they are completely separated.

2. Eggs

First of all, you need to be as sure as it is reasonably possible that the eggs are fertilized, so getting them from a good breeder / farmer is crucial. Eggs of some breeds are quite expensive, so every egg that will not hatch costs you money. A breeder can never give you a 100% guarantee that the egg is fertilized, but an experienced one can be quite confident they are.

The eggs should not have any deformations or bear any other visible defects. Any cracks in the eggshells are a no-go. Any defect of the eggshell might result in the chick having difficulty in hatching, being deformed, or not developing at all.

Once you have the eggs, it is a good practice to wash them with an egg disinfectant. Eggs are porous and the embryos get oxygen and water through their eggshells. If there are any toxins or bacteria on the eggshells, that might endanger the embryos.

3. Keep a Diary


It is a really good idea to keep a diary of hatching. This includes numbering the eggs and keeping a daily record of each eggs weight. A developing egg will gradually lose weight in its 21 days of incubation. It will lose about 10-15% of its original weight over time. When the egg in the incubator is not losing weight it usually means it is not developing.

4. Incubator

Turning

Choose your incubator carefully. Some incubators, such as the Brinsea Mini II Incubator have an Auto-turn mechanism built-in. Auto-turn saves you a lot of time and effort. Every egg during the incubation time needs to be turned every 90 minutes in order for the embryo to be positioned perfectly in the egg. A broody hen naturally turns all the eggs she is sitting on as she moves around the nest, so the turning simulates what naturally happens when a hen takes care after eggs. If the incubator does not have the Auto-turn option, you will need to turn the eggs manually. It is therefore a good practice to mark all eggs with a non-toxic marker just to be sure that every egg is being turned every time you visit them.

Temperature control

A good incubator will be able to keep a steady temperature within. One that we recommend is the Brinsea Mini II Incubator. The optimal temperature for hatching chicks is 37.5 degrees Celsius. A good incubator will set its alarm off if the temperature within drops below or rises above a certain threshold. Temperature in the room where the incubator is placed is crucial here, as it heavily influences the temperature in the incubator. You will be opening the incubator during routine controls of the eggs, so it is really important the eggs don’t get a temperature shock in the process – such a shock might kill the fetuses. We advise keeping a steady temperature of approx. 25 degrees Celsius in the room with the incubator. The room should also be draft free.

Humidity control

A good incubator will be able to provide a good humidity inside. Optimal humidity for the eggs during hatching is around 40-50% but needs to be increased on Day 19 in order to soften the eggshells and help the chicks to hatch out. With some Incubators such as the Brinsea II Mini Incubator, there are two water containers inside. Fill one up every day, and fill both of them from Day 19 onward. You can fill up the water container in the Brinsea without the need to open it which is very useful, since you generally don’t want to open the incubator too often. It is perfectly normal that some condensation starts to build up in the incubator after a few days due to high humidity.

5. Daily routine

Cooling

Day 7 is an important threshold. First of all, you need to start cooling the eggs for half an hour a day. It’s best to do this around the same time each day. A good incubator has a fan and you can set an automatic cooling time. If not, you need to cool the eggs down manually by taking them out of the incubator. The cooling temperature should not be shockingly different – a difference of 2 to 5 degrees Celsius will do.

Developing eggs keep their own temperature when exposed. That is how a hen tells the difference between a developing and a dead egg. When the hen gets off the nest to eat and drink, the dead eggs will go cold almost instantaneously. The hen will then get rid of the dead eggs from the nest.

Candling

You also need to start candling the eggs on Day 7 at the latest. Candling will show you which eggs are developing and which are not. If an egg does not show any signs of development on Day 7, it will not hatch. It is essential to take out any eggs which stop developing as they will start to decompose if left in the incubator. From Day 7 onward you should continue candling on a regular basis. It’s not necessary to do it every day, as you won’t see any significant progress on day-to-day basis, but it is a good practice to do it every third or fourth day. Weighing and candling combined are usually good indicators if the egg is developing or not.

From Day 7 up to Day 19 tasks should continue in a routine manner: daily cooling, weighing, and occasional candling.

6. Hatching

Day 19 marks the next important stage. You need to stop turning the eggs and cooling them, and lay out a hatching mat in the incubator (so the chicks won’t slip on the incubator’s surface on their first day of life). You also need to increase the humidity inside up to at least 65%. When using the Brinsea Mini II Incubator you can achieve this by filling up the second water container inside.

At some point during that period the eggs will start wiggling: the chicks will be moving around the egg to position themselves perfectly to hatch out. You might feel the temptation to check on the eggs often, but at this time it is best to leave them be and inspect the eggs every 6 hours or so.

Around Day 20 the chicks should peck out a small hole in their eggshells to catch their first breath of fresh air. It’s best to leave them be. Do not help them by making the hole bigger or breaking the shell apart. They will do it themselves in their own time. In that time they will also consume all the nutrients in their eggshells, so it is vital for them to stay inside for the time being.

Most of the chicken breeds hatch on Day 21 with only a handful of breeds hatching on Day 20 or 22. Do not help the chicks in hatching, they should be able to do it themselves – it’s their first test of strength. Only give a helping hand when a chick is really late (in comparison with its companions in the incubator) and/or the eggshell is really thick and the chick is evidently struggling to get out for a prolonged period of time.

Once the chicks hatch out, leave them in the incubator for another 24 hours. They should be well fed having eaten all the nutrients from their eggs. Apart from that, the incubator provides them with the optimal temperature and humidity.

Now watch our eggcellent egg hatching video to see how easy it is to hatch chicks!

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8 Signs Your Cat Owns You

Any cat owner…sorry, we mean servant… will know these struggles all too well. If you think of a crazy cat lady while reading these, make sure you name and shame them on social media using #OmletPets.

 

After swearing you would never let your cat on the bed, your cat now spends more time in your bed than you do, including under the covers.

You also frequently wake up with your cat lying on you, your pillow, right by your face, across your feet etc.

Your cat demands to have breakfast and dinner brought to them. And you give in. Every. Single. Time.

Sternly telling your cat “no” results in your pointed finger being swiped by sharp claws, even if they were in the wrong. Cats are never in the wrong.

You have bought multiple toys which your cat has never touched…
“But the toilet roll is so much fun! Ooo – look a hair band! Packaging? MY FAVOURITE!”

Who needs an alarm clock? You have a hangry cat!
“What do you mean 5am isn’t breakfast time? Get up!”

“If I want to play in the sink – I will play in the sink – don’t even THINK about moving me.”

You still can’t help but love your cat no matter what they do! They do own you after all!

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Teach Your Hamster New Tricks!

Someone once said that you can train anything that has a brain that connects to a stomach, and that goes for hamsters as well. They are actually very clever little creatures and probably capable of more than you think – like learning tricks for example!

Training your hamster is a wonderful way to vary your daily playtime and spend time together, and it’s something that both stimulates your pet mentally and creates a strong bond between the two of you. It should be said though that this training takes a lot of time and patience, and every hamster is different, so there’s never a guarantee that your hamster will learn these specific tricks, or any tricks at all.

As with most pets there are advantages of getting a young hamster when it comes to training and getting the hamster used to your and your family, as they have not yet developed habits and routines that can be difficult to break. This is not to say you can’t teach an old hamster new tricks, but it will take much longer to train him or her.

The most important thing is that your hamster feels comfortable around you, and that your smell and your voice has a positive association. Try to always stay calm around your hamster, and avoid raising your voice, as that can cause unnecessary stress. Spend a good few weeks together with your hamster before you move on to tricks, so you know that you can trust each other!

  • TREATS
    Now you need treats. Maybe you already know what your hamster’s favorite is, but if you don’t, we recommend sunflower seeds. They are however very fatty, so make sure that you limit the intake to training sessions or special occasions. You can also try with small pieces of chopped vegetables like carrots or broccoli.
  • STAND
    Start with an easy trick, a good first one is ”Stand”. Hold the treat in front of the hamster just over its head so that the hamster can see it but not reach it. As you do this, use your command ”Stand”. Your hamster will instinctively stand up to get closer to the treat.When the hamster stands, give the treat and verbal praise. Only give the treat if the hamster stands, as they otherwise won’t understand why they are being rewarded. If you hamster doesn’t stand it might be because he or she is not hungry at that moment, or distracted by something else going on in the room. Try again a bit later.Repeat this a few times a day for a week or two, until your hamster stands even when you don’t have a treat in your hand. Stick to one command at the time, and still always reward the hamster for standing.
  • JUMP
    Now you can move on to another trick. Use the ”stand” command, and then move the treat up and forward and say ”jump”. If the hamster tries to jump, praise him or her and give the treat.
    If your hamster is happy to jump you can add a hoop into the mix. Hold some sort of hoop between the hamster and a treat, so that they have to move through the hoop to get to it. As they go though, say ”hoop” or ”jump through the hoop”. Start with the hoop touching the ground, and then gradually lift it if you hamster seems to enjoy the game.
  • ROLL OVER
    Another fun and easy trick is ”roll over”. All you need to do is to carefully place the seed on your hamster’s back and ask him or her to roll over. If they do it, reward with the seed. After a while the hamster will roll over even without you putting the seed on their back.

Be consistent with the training, and let it take time, but it doesn’t hurt to shake up the routine every now and then to keep things interesting. Some tricks are easier than others, and all hamsters are different, so be patient and do not push your pet or get frustrated if it’s taking longer than you expected.

If both you and your hamster enjoy the training, there is really no limit as to how much you can teach your pet. You can use toys or build obstacle courses; make up the tricks as you go along and show off to friends and family!

Check out Omlet’s range of awesome Hamster houses! 

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