Red mites, or Dermanyssus gallinae, are without a doubt backyard chicken keepers’ worst enemies! They are nocturnal creatures living in cracks and crevices of the coop, and they only come out at night to feed on chicken blood. Most long term chicken keepers will have encountered these parasites, and can confirm that they are more destructive and difficult to get rid of than all other pests combined.
Getting Rid of Red Mites
If you have diagnosed a red mite infestation in your wooden coop, there are a few things you can do to try to get rid of them. Start off by giving your coop a really deep clean. Strip the house down as much as possible to get into all corners, nooks and crannies, and scrub with warm water. You will need to replace any felt or fabric parts and carefully clean perches, feeders and drinkers and other loose objects in the coop. Make sure that you get rid of all bedding that might have been infested.
If you can still see mites crawling out of crevices in the wood when the coop is drying, try hosing the coop and all loose parts down with a pressure washer. Leave to dry for 10-15 minutes and blast it over again to get rid of even more mites. Repeat until there are very few mites emerging after every wash.
Still not completely clear of mites? Time for the anti-mite products. Mix a mite specific concentrate with water using the manufacturer’s guidelines and apply this to the coop. Go heavy on areas where it is likely that the mites are hiding (corners and end of perches are particularly affected areas), but it is important that you treat the whole coop. When the wood is completely dry, apply plenty of red mite powder on your chickens, their bedding and their dust bath before you let them back into the coop.
In summer you will need to re-apply the powder every few days, and it in many cases getting ahead of the mites will mean deep cleaning the coop with detergents on several occasions over a period of two weeks. When autumn comes the mites become dormant and will not feed on your chickens, but they are unfortunately likely to reappear when the temperature rises again in spring.
Preventing Red Mite Infestations
When it comes to red mites, prevention will always be better than cure, and one of the few things you can actually do to keep these little creatures from hurting your chickens is to have a coop that doesn’t make life easy for them.
The smooth plastic surfaces of the Eglu chicken coop leaves very little space for the mites to hide. There are no corners or gaps that you won’t be able to reach with a hose or a pressure washer, which means that one deep clean of the Eglu should get rid of all dust, dirt and possible pests. By cleaning your Eglu on a regular basis you prevent red mites from ever becoming a problem for you and your hens, and you won’t have to spend all that time and money cleaning and disinfecting that you would if you had a more traditional coop.
The Eglu chicken coops have over the last 15 years been the solution for a lot of people who have tired of constantly trying to get rid of red mites from their wooden coops. Here are some of the things current Eglu owners have told us about battling red mites:
“I’ve thought about having an Eglu for two years but this summer’s red mite infestation was too much. I hate using chemicals/insecticides around my hens so I took the plunge and I’m really pleased.”Sue
“After having some terrible experiences with mites we decided enough is enough and time to buy a “mite free eglu” as advertised. We have been slightly put off by the price previously but now I wish I had one from the start! I couldn’t rate the omlet eglu cube any higher! What used to take 2 hours to clean and scrub a chicken coop now takes 10 minutes! We have not had any lice infestations since having the cube I absolutely love it and so do our chickens, just wish we had bought one sooner!”Amie
“The most important feature to me is the hygienic, easy clean & wash nature of all the surfaces. I would never buy a wooden house again having struggled with mites which hid in all the joints and gaps of the boards. There is nowhere for the mites to hide on the Eglu and cleaning is quick and easy. I’m certain that there isn’t a better house available for healthy hens.”Neil
Does the thought of mites make you itch? Watch our video about two neighbours having very different chicken keeping experiences this summer, showing some of the struggles that chicken owners with mite-infested coops are faced with:
From Eugene: Take I-5 N. to Albany, getting off at exit 234. Turn right onto Knox Butte Road E. Take another right onto Expo Parkway NE. Continue to the Expo parking lot.
From Portland: Take I-5 S to Airport Road SE in Albany. From I-5 S, take exit 234A. Merge onto Airport Road SE. Turn right onto Pacific Boulevard SE. Keep right to continue on Knox Butte Road E. Turn right onto Expo Parkway NE. Continue to the Expo parking lot.
As an Omlet Ambassador I’ve heard that line hundreds of times at trade shows and expo halls all across the United States. However, as a former DIY luxury chicken coop builder and longtime Omlet Coop owner I would like to set the record straight and explain why on Omlet Coop is the best purchase a backyard chicken tender can make.
This was my pride and joy:
A luxury coop that is Pinterest worthy and constructed of the best materials I could get my hands on. It has a radiant barrier roof that I shingled! It has a skylight in the middle that is UV blocking and tinted so as to only protect against the harsh and hot Texas sun. We used metal bracing on every corner to make sure we were squared up and secure. There are hundreds of screws holding up the double layer of hardware cloth. Literally, hundreds of screws. I used pressure treated wood that was rated for ground contact and further sealed with deck sealant. I used fiber cement siding that was rated to withstand hail impact and wind thrown objects. No expense was spared in building the Fort Knox of chicken coops that I thought would last a lifetime. I even ordered special chicken shaped handles for the coop doors:
Why is an Omlet Coop a better buy than building a DIY coop?
Experience should not be underestimated when lives are on the line
Omlet was founded in 2003 and has been innovating since. That is over 16 years of experience in building chicken coops. That is 16 years of predicting and preventing predators from getting chicken dinners. The average DIY’er that I meet at trade shows or talk to on forums such as BackYardChickens.com is a first-time chicken owner who hasn’t witnessed the creativity and determination of predator animals such as raccoons, foxes, and even neighborhood dogs.
Included in the price of each and every Omlet coop is 16 years of research and development to give us chicken tenders the best possible home for our flocks. That is 16 years of perfecting the Omlet Coops that get delivered to front doors all across the World. I cannot emphasize this enough because it is the most important factor in why I chose Omlet over DIY’ing another coop. It is not 16 years of making the same old coop over and over again like you’ll find at Tractor Supply or the local hardware/feed store. It is 16 years of constant innovation and stalwart dedication to making the safest coop on the market. While you read the rest of this please ask yourself whether you think a few google searches, a Facebook group, or in my case a Pinterest post can compete with 16 years of on the ground experience with thousands of models sold and tested across not just the US but the world at large. Think about the chickens you will soon be bringing home to live in the coop. Do you trust their lives to a weekend DIY project? Also, if you have kids and they are involved with the chickens then please consider the trauma of them waking up some day to find that a raccoon has turned their favorite hens into a recreation of a CSI episode with a headless hen as the victim. The cost may be steeper up front, but I can personally assure you that it will be more than worth it in the end for the peace of mind, the portability, the cleanliness, and so many other reasons.
DIY may seem like the cheaper route but I can assure you that the first time you wake up to find your favorite hens dismembered by a racoon or de-feathered and half eaten by a fox the last thing on your mind will be how you saved a couple bucks here and there. Why go through the heartbreak of losing hens and then spend the next couple days having to drain your wallet to renovate and repair the coop? Also, once a predator gets into your coop once they will keep coming back for more. They will poke, pull, and attempt to gain access in any way possible since they now know that an all you can eat chicken dinner is just inside. Why not stop them the first time so they never even consider coming back?
The most commonly encountered coops on the internet are constructed of wood. Wood can either be treated or untreated. Treated wood is wood that has been infused with copper products under extreme pressure in order to give it a few extra years of protection against Mother Nature.
However, treated wood does not protect against the ammonia rich droppings left behind by fluffy chicken butts. Chickens do not urinate and defecate separately like us humans do. Instead they combine the two acts and their droppings are highly concentrated and highly corrosive to many materials. This results in an accelerated rate of decay and decomposition of any and all wooden components of a DIY coop. This is a hugely important point to consider because decaying wood is similar to rotten wood in that it is incredibly fragile, and fragility is not something any chicken owner wants when it comes to their coop. The only way to circumvent this is to be diligent in replacing decaying panels as soon as you notice the first signs of decay. Mind you, this requires purchasing more materials, expending more of your time performing the labor to remove the decaying parts and reinstalling the new parts, and adds undue stress to your flock as you tinker with their home.
Of note, there are various sealants and paints that can be used on both treated and untreated wood, but my firsthand experience showed that these only served to prolong the inevitable as they too decayed. Furthermore, I would caution against their use as they can become a health hazard for your flock. Chickens will eat just about anything they can fit into their beaks so as the paint and sealant begin to crack, chip, and flake off the chickens will pick at the cracking paint or sealant and will quickly eat any flakes they can knock off or catch on the ground. I am not a veterinarian, but it certainly doesn’t take one to warn against the well-known dangers of ingesting paint.
Omlet coops are made out of a high-density plastic polymers that are non-porous and designed to be durable against both Mother Nature and any mother hen. The corrosive droppings from your chickens do not affect the durability of the Omlet coop and will not cause it to degrade or deteriorate with wood. It will stay strong for decades or more without any need to repair, replace or renovate.
Chicken wire, I would like to just say to stay as far away from this as possible because every week I hear from people who used chicken wire only to discover their coops broken into and flock decimated. Chicken wire is good at containing chickens but is absolutely worthless for keeping predators out. Raccoons can reach their hands through it and can pull it apart in under an hour. Coyotes, foxes and neighborhood dogs can easily bite and pull it apart. Snakes slither right on in without trouble.
The other wire that people commonly use is hardware cloth. This is what I used when I first built my own coop and it does work for a while. However, over time it will sag, and it is not meant to bear weight well. It can prevent predators most predators for a while but it is far from impenetrable and without proper installation and constant checks it can easily fail and need replacing.
The run components are made from welded steel panels. I could go further into detail about these, but I think the picture below is worth a thousand words:
It was a sad day when I had to leave behind the Pinterest quality barn-inspired coop because we sold the house and couldn’t haul off the coop without hiring a forklift and crew to load it onto a flatbed.
Thankfully, that will never happen with Omlet Coops. They are portable when fully assembled and they are also so easy to disassemble and flat pack that I can now fit our multiple coops and run attachments into the bed of my pickup truck with ease. In fact, I had to do just that when we moved from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Austin, Texas.
Modular and Expandable with ease
One of the hardest parts about designing and building a DIY coop is that you have to know how many chickens you want from the start. That may seem like an innocuous task but there is a phenomenon known to chicken owners as “chicken math.” It is something I have encountered first hand and been a victim of. In what started with 3 chickens has now since expanded to 31 chickens and counting. Our barn inspired chicken coop was meant to house 5-6 hens at a time and any sort of expansion would be extremely costly and require cutting into, and compromising the structural integrity of the original coop to attach any expansions on it.
Our Omlet coop expanded with us and we are already saving up for another full-size WALK-IN-RUN to add. Attaching any sort of expansion or add on is literally a 10-minute job. Due to the modular structure of the Coop and the Walk-in-Run all that has to be done is clip on the new expansions to the existing ones.
The total cost of the Pinterest coop that I build was around $1600. It fit 5 chickens comfortably and held up for just short of 2 years before we started to have to replace parts and deal with decay.
Chicken coops from Tractor Supply range from $250 to over $1,000. However, most of these have wooden components that will break down and need replacing so you will have to throw money at it regularly to keep it functional.
There are a handful of plastic polymer options at TSC but none of them allow for attaching a run, or any sort of modular upgrades that will allow you to grow your flock or custom tailor your coop to your yard. Therefore, you will end up spending well over the cost of an Omlet coop for something that is not designed to fit together and is not as adaptable and flexible as a product from Omlet’s ecosystem.
Peace of mind knowing all of the “What if’s” have been accounted for.
As stated above, Omlet has more experience in this field than any DIY’er. They have answered all of the if, and, buts, and what ifs with first hand experience. The peace of mind that comes with being able to purchase an all in one coop that will last for decades, keep the flock safe, and be adaptable to your future needs is worth more than saving a few bucks by risking all of that.
Did you know that dogs in the office has been shown to boost morale, and employees who come into contact with dogs at work have higher job satisfaction than the country average? Having a pet in the workplace can also reduce stress levels, and stroking a dog can lower both your heart rate and your blood pressure!
This Friday, 21st June, is Bring Your Dog to Work Day, and a few of us might consider bringing our dogs to the office for the first time. If you’ve got the go ahead from your manager, read our list of things to think about to make sure the pup’s introduction to the workplace goes smoothly.
Consider if your dog can handle it
Not all dogs are suited for a day in the office, and to make sure you both enjoy it, you will need to consider if your dog will be able to stay calm and quiet all day. Do you think he or she will actually enjoy the experience, or are they better off at home? If there are other dogs in the office you will also need to take these into consideration.
Make sure your colleagues are okay with it
Even if you’re confident that your dog won’t cause any problems around the office you might have colleagues who are afraid of or allergic to dogs, and bringing in your pooch unannounced might not go down well. If people seem hesitant, let them know that you will make sure to keep the dog by your desk at all times, and that they won’t have to interact with the dog if they don’t want to.
Choose a good day
If it’s the first time your bring your dog, make sure it’s on a day when you haven’t got lots of meetings or when you are too busy to have a proper lunch break to take the dog for a walk. The pup will probably feel most comfortable if you’re around most of the time, and the office is relatively calm and quiet.
Make sure you have time for breaks and walks Your dog will do much better if he or she gets a good walk at lunch time and a few shorter breaks during the day to stretch their legs and have a pee. This will benefit you as well, as taking a break and getting some fresh air will improve both your mood and your productivity.
Have a plan B
You know your dog, but a new environment might bring out sides you were not expecting. Barking, or other ways of marking their territory, can be really annoying and distracting, so make sure you have a getaway plan. Also keep an eye out for any sign of stress, like panting and licking lips. Are you able to take your dog home if needed? Or has the office got a meeting room that the two of you can retreat to if the pup is causing problems?
Bring everything your dog will need
Make sure to pack a comfy bed for your dog that he or she will feel comfortable in and that smells of home, and place it somewhere quiet and close to you. If you’re planning to bring your dog in regularly, you might want to buy a separate bed for the office. Bring water and food bowls, and treats. Puzzle toys like Kongs are perfect for keeping your dog occupied while you make a phone call or when you really need to focus on work.
Take full responsibility
You definitely don’t want the dog to be a reason your colleagues start to get annoyed with you, so make sure that you never leave someone to take care of your dog unless they have clearly said that they are happy to do it. Never assume that someone will want to take the dog out for a toilet break, or watch him or her when you pop out for a meeting.
Omlet is a proud sponsor of Bring Your Dog to Work Day, an annual event that raises money for charities dedicated to making a difference to the welfare of dogs. Visit their website to read more and to get involved with all the fun!
Even if running around and playing with friends will probably be enough to keep your pup happy you might want to plan a few games that both dogs and owners will enjoy, and that will hopefully keep four-legged party-goers out of mischief.
CATCH THE TREAT
If possible, make the dogs stand in a row with their owners a meter or so in front of them. The owners will throw 10 treats to their dogs, and the dog that catches the most wins.
For this one you will need a judge to decide who’s got the best party trick up their sleeve. Alternatively you can chose a few commands and see who will get the most right in a minute, or who will finish the commands first.
Place mats or similar markers in a circle, one less than the number of party pups. With the dogs on the lead, the owners walk around the mats while the music is playing. When the music stops, owners will need to bring their dog to a mat and make them sit nicely. The couple without a mat is out of the game. Remove one mat at a time until you have a winner!
This game is best played outside with plenty of space. Owners stand with their dogs and throw a toy on a given command. The first dog to return with the toy is the winner.
Cut a cross in old tennis balls and put a treat in the ball. Give the dog one ball each. The first one to work out how to get the treat out wins.
All the best hosts give their guests a little something to remind them of the fun that was had and thank them for coming! Take a look at our favourite party bag suggestions for canine guests…
A little bag of your homemade dog biscuits
A lovely soft toy
A stylish doggy bow or bowtie
A party isn’t complete without the perfect playlist for your guests to enjoy. From the party favourite “Who let the dogs out” to anxiety-reducing melodies, take a look at our dog-lover’s Spotify playlist here:
Guinea pigs are fun, quirky companions for people of all ages and make fantastic pets. Though small, these little animals have bags of character and very distinct, individual personalities. If you’re thinking of bringing some guinea pigs into your home, you’ll be rewarded by conversational squeaks, affectionate nuzzling, and the comical sight of your pets devouring hay and vegetables like there’s no tomorrow. If you’re already an owner, then you’ll know firsthand what enjoyable and easy pets they are to look after.
If you are thinking of getting a guinea pig here’s a checklist of everything you need to keep your new pet happy and healthy!
1 – A friend
Guinea pigs are very sociable animals, and will need to live together with a friend, or else they will get very depressed. Siblings of the same sex is normally the best combination, but males of different ages normally get along well as long as there are no females around. If you’re planning to keep a male and a female guinea pig together and don’t want plenty of guinea pig babies you must make sure to get the male castrated.
2 – A safe and dry house
Your guinea pigs will need a hutch to live in, even if you intend to keep them in your home. Whether you opt for a modern hutch like our Eglu Go Guinea Pig Hutch, or a traditional wooden hutch is up to you, but which hutch and run you choose, and where you keep it, requires some careful thought.
A good hutch is vital to a guinea pigs’ wellbeing. It’s their home, and where they’ll spend the vast majority of their time. Well-made hutches provide a secure environment for your guinea pigs to sleep, socialize, and exercise, and a good hutch can last you and your pets many years, especially if you invest in a solid, robust model.
The Eglu Go Hutch is the simple, stylish, straightforward way to keep pets. Suitable for two to three guinea pigs, this will make a wonderful home for your new friends. It has been designed to enable your pet guinea pigs to express their natural instincts, offering them a fun environment that will make them feel really at home.
3 – Space to run around and play
Guinea pigs love exercise and space to play, so they need to spend time in their run each day. If your guinea pig hutch has a run attached, like the Eglu Go Guinea Pig Hutch, simply open the door to the run when you bring your guinea pigs their food in the morning. If your hutch doesn’t have a run attached, then it’s a good idea to give your guinea pigs an opportunity to stretch their legs each day by purchasing a standalone guinea pig run. If your run is outside then, weather permitting, your guinea pigs would like to be be put out there each morning and brought back each evening. Take this opportunity for a cuddle!
You can enhance their living space by providing Guinea pig activity tunnels linking hutches to runs and playpens. It’s a practical add-on that appeals to the animal’s instincts too – in the wild they are wary of open spaces, darting for cover under a bush or in a grass tunnel, whenever they sense danger.
The Zippi Guinea Pig Tunnel System is custom made with all this in mind – something that keeps the Guinea pigs happy at an instinctive level, while providing a practical addition to your set up, and bringing hours of fun for the family. The Zippi’s Guinea pig burrow pipes connect all the different areas used by your pets. Its Guinea pig hutch connector is suitable for whatever house you have provided for your pets – whether that’s The Eglu Go Hutch, a traditional wooden hutch, or something you’ve put together yourself. It connects very handily to The Zippi Playpens and Runs and The Omlet’s Outdoor Pet Runs.
4 – Food and Water
Guinea Pigs need constant access to food, so make sure you refill their dry dry food bowl twice a day. Fill their hay rack and cut up some fresh fruit and veg for them to munch on. Be sure to keep their water bottle nice and fresh, too.
Guinea pigs will eat virtually anything! As well as grass in the summer, they can be given a variety of wild plants such as dandelions, plantains, chickweed and milk thistle. When wild plants are not available they can be given vegetables, herbs and fruit. The key is to introduce as many different fresh foods when they are young, as they may be reluctant to try something new as they get older. Do however stay away from potatoes, onions, raw beans and beetroot, as well as anything bloating.
Hay is another important daily component of their diet. Only the best quality hay should be fed, and it should not be either dusty or mouldy. If you have somewhere to store it, it is often worthwhile to buy a bale from a farm, of a quality that would be fed to horses. As well as eating it, they will snuggle under it for warmth. Straw should not be used; it has no nutritional value, and the sharpness of its stalks often causes eye injuries as the guinea pigs burrow around in it.
5 – Vitamin C
The most important fact to know about guinea pigs is that, like us humans, they need a daily intake of Vitamin C. This can be provided by providing a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Most good guinea pig dry mixes now also contain vitamin C. Carrots and Broccoli are great sources of vitamin C, and a carrot a day keeps the vet away!
6 – And finally……..a routine!
Guinea pigs soon get used to a routine, and will reward you with welcoming squeaks as soon as they hear you open your back door. It is important to check on your guinea pigs at least twice a day, in the morning and evening. However guinea pigs love human company and the more time you can spend with them the happier they are.
Introducing a new puppy to your home is very exciting, but it is also important to remember that this can be quite a frightening experience for a young dog. Take a look at our top tips for setting in your new furry family member below…
1 – Take some time off work
When you have been informed of the day you can collect your puppy, it is wise to take at least a week off work to stay at home with your new four-legged friend, to settle them in to your home. If you work full time, you will also need to make suitable arrangements after this time for letting your dog out for toilet breaks and exercise during the day.
2 – Start in one room
To avoid overwhelming your puppy with new sights and smells, keep them in one room to begin with. This will preferably be a room with direct access to the garden for them to go outside for toilet breaks, and will also be the place where you intend to keep their bed, food and water bowls in the long term. Unsurprisingly, your puppy will be very excitable and full of energy, so take them outside to become familiar with their surroundings and have a run around!
3 – First interaction
The first few days with your puppy are crucial for establishing a strong and positive relationship with your pet. You should take the time to interact with your dog; playing, cuddling, stroking. Introduce them to a couple of toys and begin playing and rewarding any good behavior with treats.
Your new puppy may also be a little weary of you to begin with. Be very gentle when you are handling him and slowly you will be able to develop their trust in you and become familiar with your touch, voice and scent.
4 – Feeding
To maintain as much consistency as possible while your puppy goes through a confusing change to their environment, it is wise to follow the same diet as the breeder was feeding to the litter. Find out as much information as possible before you go to collect your puppy, so you have time to research and purchase the appropriate food. Once your puppy is home follow the diet as closely as possible, and if transitioning to a different type of food, do so gradually to avoid upsetting their sensitive stomach.
5 – Playpen/crates
While excitably exploring their new space, your puppy may be able to injure themselves or damage items in your home, if left unsupervised. Obviously, you will be unable to monitor your puppy’s every move day and night, so it may be wise to consider a puppy playpen or dog crate to use for short period’s of time and at bedtime to keep them out of harm’s way when you cannot be with them. Dog crates are also a very useful training tool, and provide nervous puppies with a safe den they can call their own.
Add a bed, blankets and a couple of toys to your puppy’s crate to create a warm, cosy space. Puppy pads are also advisable for potential accidents inside, but make sure you are letting your puppy outside regularly to go to the toilet and stretch their legs.
Omlet Director, James, who recently adopted a Cavapoo puppy named Pip, said that getting a puppy “was like having another newborn child. It’s wonderful but you’re also nervous because you want her to settle in really well and be happy. In the first few days, she spent a lot of time curled up on my feet or on my lap. I slept downstairs for the first week to keep taking her outside to go to the loo while she was being puppy trained.”
One of the best things about being a dog owner is coming back home to be greeted by a happy (and pretty crazy) dog. It doesn’t matter if you’ve gone to the shops for 10 minutes or have been at work all day, your pup will act like you’ve been gone for days – jumping, dancing, licking and tail wagging. This is quite clearly a sign that your dog loves you and is happy that you have returned to them.
We know that yawning is contagious between humans, but did you know that studies show that dogs are more likely to yawn simultaneously with their owners than with someone they don’t know? It is suggested that this is a way for dogs to show empathy, and that yawning together with their owners is a sign of affection.
Does your dog wake you up with wet kisses in the morning, or does he or she lick your face when you’re playing together? This is one of the absolute strongest signs that the dog feels truly comfortable around you, as it’s a version of the grooming that they would have spent time doing with their parents and siblings in the pack.
You might think that your dog only wants to play when they bring you their favourite toy. Wanting to play is also a strong sign of love, but by giving you their beloved possessions they are showing that you’re the pack leader and that they’re fully dedicated to you.
Loving Your Scent
You might get a bit annoyed when your pup steals your underwear and runs around the house with them, but try to remember that this thievery is actually a strong sign of affection. It means that the dog wants to feel close to you even when you’re not right next to them. If you see your dog doing this you might want to leave an old T-shirt in their bed when you’re out of the house to make them feel safe.
If your dog looks you in the eye when you’re talking to or playing with them, they’re telling you that they love you. Eye contact releases the hormone oxytocin in the brain, which triggers feelings of comfort and affection and creates a stronger bond between you and your dog. An interesting fact is that dogs don’t use eye contact in the same way within their own species. In fact, prolonged eye contact between dogs can be a sign of aggression.
Relaxed Body Language
There are several ways your dog can use body language to show that they feel completely comfortable in your presence. A wagging tail is one of them, but you might also see relaxed facial features with a slightly open mouth and lolling tongue, blinking eyes, raised eyebrows and a tilting head, as well as rolling over for a belly rub.
In the wild dogs sleep huddled with their pack, and as you are your pet dogs pack, he or she might choose to snuggle up next to you for a nap. If they’re allowed to, dogs will sleep as close to their beloved humans as possible, both to feel protected and to protect the people they love the most. In a similar way you might also find that your dog stays close to you and sometimes leans against you when they are feeling stressed or intimidated.
We are giving away an ameowzing starter pack worth over $65 when you order the NEW Maya Nook Luxury Indoor Cat House – the purrfect moving in present to celebrate your feline friend’s new home.
The FREE bundle will include:
A Maya Nook Cat Bed
A set of Curtains for your Maya Nook
An engaging cat toy
To claim your free starter pack when you purchase a New Maya Nook Cat House, simply enter code MAYA at checkout.
We’re not kitten around – this offer is fur real and available for a limited time only!
The NEW MayaNook Cat House is the ultimate cosy bed for your cat to relax and sleep in peace and quiet. This stylish piece of furniture looks great in your home while providing your cat with a space they can call their own. The integrated wardrobe provides a neat way to keep your cat’s toys and treats tidy and out of sight, while the NEW Maya Nook curtains allow your cat to get the undisturbed sleep they desire. Read more about the NEW Maya Nook Cat House here.
Terms and Conditions Free Starter Pack bundle is only valid with orders of the Maya Nook Indoor Cat House from 01/05/19 – midnight 09/05/19. Use promo code MAYA at checkout to receive your FREE starter pack. Items in the free bundle are subject to change. This promo code entitles you to one pair of curtains, one Omlet cat bed, and one Minoumi toy. Subject to availability. While stocks last. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point.
On average backyard chickens live to an age of six to eight years, but there are of course exceptions. How old a chicken will become depends amongst other things on the breed and how a chicken is kept. Heavy layers exhaust themselves with a lifespan of just three years, others can live up to ten years. According to the Guinness World Records world’s oldest chicken is Matilda, a Red Pyle hen from Alabama that died at the age of sixteen (1990-2006). A hen is considered a senior around the age of five. If you are not sure about the age of a chicken, there are signs that will tell you your hen is getting older.
As a chicken gets older the texture of the comb will slightly change and she will likely have some scars from being pecked by other chickens. The feet and legs tend to thicken and if your hen has spurs, you know she’s not a youngster anymore (generally chickens grow spurs around three years of age). Arthritis may cause your older chicken to move stiffly and you might notice she walks a bit slower and more carefully. And of course the egg production of an older hen will decrease. The average chicken lays eggs for four to five years on a regular basis, with the peak of the egg production around 18-24 months. Already after two years, the egg production tends to drop. When you start seeing soft or thin-shelled and misshapen eggs, you know your hen is about to retire from egg laying altogether. But with most breeds living to age seven or beyond, you’ve got a few more years to enjoy the companionship of the hen that has served you and your family so well.
CARING FOR OLDER CHICKENS
Caring for older hens isn’t difficult and really isn’t much different than caring for them when they’re younger but there are a few things you can do for them to make sure they are healthy and comfortable.
Lower the perch in the run and/or coop
Senior chickens can start having mobility problems due to arthritis or joint inflammation. By lowering the height of the perch to one or two feet of the ground its easier for your old hen to hop onto it, protecting her joint. Building a ramp up into the coop might be necessary.
Predator proof run
Old chickens don’t move as fast as they used to. Providing them with a predator proof space is important to keep them safe. It’s best to supervise your chickens when they are free ranging. You may want to provide your older chickens with a separate coop and run to prevent younger, more aggressive hens from pecking them.
Accessible food and water
Make sure food and water containers are easily accessible. This means the food and water containers must be on a easily accessible height. It can also be a good idea to have two sources of food and water: one in their run area and if they are free ranging one outside. Older chickens may not be able to range as far for food and water.
Feeding older hens
If your entire flock is older and none of the hens is laying any longer, you can give the whole flock a chicken grower feed since they don’t need the additional calcium that a layer feed provides. If you are feeding different age groups together or ad new chicks to the flock, the entire flock can be fed the chicken grower feed from the time the new chickens are eight weeks old up until the laying age of 16 to 18 weeks old. After that the new layers will need a laying feed. The layer feed won’t hurt the older hens, as the calcium is good for their bones.
Older chickens may not be wearing down their nails with activity like foraging and scratching. If the claws are curling round then they will need trimming. Consider nail clipping as part of caring for old chickens if your chickens have long nails.
A good vet
Try to find a vet near you who specialises in poultry. Do this and register in advance of having problems. Arthritis, egg failure, joint inflammation, gout, ascites, tumors, adenocarcinoma and salpingitis are issues that can come up with chickens of any age, but more so in old chickens.
BENEFITS OF OLDER HENS
In their own way, older hens contribute well past their productive egg laying years. Older hens still produce manure, which is a great fertilizer for your garden. Older hens still like to eat bugs. You’ll notice a reduction in the number of ticks and snails in your garden when you keep a flock of chickens. Furthermore, older hens are more likely to go broody and be available to raise the chicks you purchase or hatch.
If you’re a first time chicken keeper getting started this spring, you will likely be wondering what exactly you need to take care of your new pets. Some things will depend on your garden and how many chickens you will be getting, and others are a standard essential for all chicken keepers. We’ve put together this handy guide for everything you need, plus there is a checklist at the end for you to use when shopping.
First things first – housing. Your choice here will mainly depend on the number of chickens you plan on getting. At Omlet, we recommend a plastic chicken coop to reduce the risk of red mite infestation and to keep your girls completely weather protected. The traditional wooden chicken coop may look nice but they are harder to maintain, keep waterproof and red mite free.
Our Eglu chicken coops not only look great (available in purple or green), but they are also completely weatherproof, twin-wall insulated, and super easy to clean, making it virtually impossible for red mites to survive.
The Eglu Go and Go UP are a good starting point if you are only planning on getting 2 to 4 chickens. The house is the same, with a pull out droppings tray, nesting area, roosting bars and easy open back door, the only difference is that the Go UP comes on a stand with a ladder up to the coop, making the run taller, giving more space for hentertainment and allowing your chickens to roost off the ground.
The Eglu Cube is our largest coop. It is suitable for up to 10 smaller bantam breeds such as Pekins, 6-8 medium sized hens like the Rhode Island Red or 4-5 large breeds like the majestic Cochin. The Cube also has a back door and pull out droppings tray, plus a side egg port for you to easily collect your eggs from the nest box (which is big enough for 3 chickens to lay at once).
All our chicken keeping products, including the Eglus have 10% off now until the 22nd of March in our Spring Sale, so if you are thinking about keeping chickens now is the time to do it!
The Eglus are available with a fox resistant chicken run made from strong steel weld mesh, impossible for predators to break. A unique anti-tunnel skirt sits flat on the ground and prevents animals from digging in. Choose your run length based on how many chickens you will be getting and how often you will be able to let your chickens free range. If you start with a smaller run to begin with and realise later on your chickens need more space, we have run extensions available, or you may want to consider a larger Walk in Run to give your chickens lots of space and make it easier for you to spend time with them and look after them.
A number of accessories are also available for your Eglu run including wheels and run handles to make it quick and easy for one person to move the coop and run to another area of your garden.
Something else you may want to consider for your garden set up is Chicken Fencing. Although, not predator proof, chicken fencing allows you to section off an area of your garden to keep your chickens in one place. This is especially useful if you have a larger garden that you don’t want your chickens to get lost in, or if you have a vegetable patch or flower bed to protect. This is best used when you are home or at a time when you know foxes are not about in your area, so you know your girls are safe free ranging outside of their coop run.
Like any other animal, chickens can get bored and need good sources of, what we like to call, hentertainment to keep them occupied when you are not around.
Our Rocky and Elvis Peck Toys slowly release treats over time while being pecked and offer hens great boredom busting fun. The Omlet Chicken Perch can be placed anywhere on any chicken run, and allows your hens to fulfill their natural desire to perch from the highest point available while in their run during the day.
For spring and summer time you may want to consider a shade for the run to give your chickens a cooler area out of the sun where they can chill out.
For winter, an Extreme Temperature Blanket is ideal for keeping the coop warm when temperatures drop below freezing for multiple days in a row. There are also a number of run covers and wind breaks available so your chickens can still enjoy time outside while being protected from the elements.
For laying hens you will need to provide layers pellets which offer the protein content they need to stay healthy and regularly lay eggs. A fully grown chicken will typically eat about 120 grams of layers pellets a day. You will also need to provide grit which is essential for helping chickens digest their food, as they do not have teeth.
Corn is a great treat for hens but should be limited as it is high in fat. Other treats, such as fruit, green veggies and cereals should also only be given in limited supply to avoid chickens filling up on those rather than the layers pellets.
It also important to ensure fresh water is available at all times – checking and refilling it daily.
Our Eglus all come with a feeder and drinker but you may want to consider buying extra to offer another area in your garden for when they are free ranging, especially important for chickens who don’t like to share with their coop-mates!
There are lots of different types of bedding available on the market, and which you choose is entirely dependent on your personal preference. Some to consider include dust extracted wood shavings, straw, chopped cardboard, Aubiose and Easichick.
When you give your chickens’ droppings tray and bedding area its weekly clean, you might want to consider sprinkling some Diatom Powder around to prevent any bugs making a home in your chicken coop, and adding some BioDri to bedding will help to sanitise the litter, make it last longer, and reduce the growth of bacteria.
Deep clean your whole coop once a year with a disinfectant such as Johnson’s Clean ‘n’ Safe to ensure the coop is spotless.
Last but not least: Chickens!
When you have everything in place and are ready to get some chickens, we strongly recommend looking to charities to rescue an ex-battery hen. While these hens may be a little more wary of their new home and the strange environment they are not used to, they will soon come round and settle in and be a great layer for you and your family.
Get 10% off all the products mentioned in this post until the 24th of March in our Spring Sale! No promo code needed.
When the temperatures drops, most rabbit owners know the importance of checking that their pet’s hutch is winter ready.
However, did you know it’s just as important to consider your rabbit’s emotional needs as well?
Brave the cold to give your bunny a cuddle!
An often overlooked problem for rabbits in winter is that they have reduced playtime with their owner. When the weather’s nice, you’ll often be outside even if you’re not specifically going out to see your rabbit. You and your pet will benefit from lots of regular visibility. However, in the winter when you’re not going outside as much, you and your rabbit will also be missing out on regular contact and this will have a significant impact on your rabbits’ health. Even if kept with other rabbits, they can still miss you and feel lonely. Brave the cold and get outside to maintain as much of their normal routine as possible. And remember rabbits are crepuscular meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn so even when it’s dark you can still pop out to see them, it’s unlikely you’ll disturb their sleep.
As well as less playtime with their owner, less exercise is also an unhealthy side effect of the winter months. It is incredibly important you do all you can to avoid this affecting your rabbits’ health.
Consider a hutch with a run attached so that your rabbits have access to space for exercise during the day. A large walk in run also makes it easier for you to play with your rabbit, as there is space inside for you to join them, and you and your rabbits can be protected from the elements by covers over the top and around the sides of the run.
If your rabbits’ hutch is not attached to a run, the Zippi Tunnel System is an excellent solution to link these two together, and provide rabbits with easy access to a larger area for exercise when they choose. You can also open the run in the morning and close in the evening by using the door on the Zippi Tunnel entrance.
Provide lots of dry bedding in their hutch and if your rabbit’s get really wet then you can dry your rabbits with a towel after outdoor activity. Check there is food and water available in the run, as well as a shelter and toys. You can even place some bedding in the run to encourage exercise when it is cold.
Your rabbits’ home
In winter, ensure that your rabbits’ home is waterproof, dry and ventilated. A common problem with standard wooden hutches is that they can become damp and cold from leaks and drafts. If you do have a wooden hutch, it is important to check the home for damp patches regularly. You will also need to remove any wet bedding promptly as this can freeze.
Consider moving your hutch closer to your house, in a sheltered area to protect it from wind and rain and make it easier for you to check on your bunnies regularly.
Provide your rabbits with extra bedding to keep them warmer during these colder months, and you may also want to purchase a safe microwavable heat pad to place underneath bedding if temperatures drop below freezing.
Ensure your rabbits have access to clean drinking water at all times, as they will likely drink more in winter, and check this is not frozen on particularly cold days. As well as hay, provide your rabbits with some leafy greens as these may be in short supply for them in your garden at this time of year.
Some owners bring their rabbits indoors for winter. This can be a great way to keep pets warm and healthy in the colder months, however, the process needs to be carefully managed. Moving your rabbits into a different habitat can be a stressful change, which should be done gradually. Remove all hazards and cables from ground level in the rooms which your rabbits will have access to, provide a dark sleeping spot, and place familiar items from the outside hutch into the home.
We recommend seeking further advice from animal welfare experts or your vet if moving your rabbits indoors.
If this is not an option for you, or if your wooden hutch is looking a little worse for wear, and not providing your rabbits with the warm, dry shelter, they require, consider upgrading to a insulated waterproof hutch, such as the Eglu Go, which offers complete protection against the elements.
The Eglu Go Hutch has a unique twin wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing to keep your rabbit’s home well insulated, while the draught-free ventilation system allows fresh air in without blowing cold air over the bedding area. The removable bedding tray can be slid out and cleaned quickly making it easier for you to meet your rabbits’ needs and maintain their dry living conditions.