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The Omlet Blog Category Archives: Chickens

Rosie’s Chicken Keeping Adventure

 

selfie of chicken keeper rosie and dog evieSocial Media Executive Rosie has been at Omlet for a year, and when she was asked by her managers if she was interested in broadening her chicken knowledge (and to create fun content for Omlet’s social media platforms) with her very own flock, she said yes straight away.


“My partner Max has always wanted chickens – he was so excited when I got this job as he thought it would make me more keen to keep hens. So when they asked me I knew he would be over the moon, and I was right. But I’m of course also really excited!”

How much research have you done so far?

“I read ‘What the Cluck’, Omlet’s chicken keeping book, which was really helpful. I have obviously picked up some knowledge when working with pet content and seeing the chickens at the office. I also manage Omlet’s Facebook Group for chicken keepers, that’s where you get to hear what it’s really like.”

Rosie and Max decided to go for the top notch backyard chicken setup. They have got an Eglu Cube Chicken Coop with a 6 ft. run connected to a 9 ftx9 ft Walk in Chicken Run, an Automatic Chicken Coop Door and a PoleTree Chicken Perch, plus some covers and other Omlet hentertainment accessories.

“We set it up a few weekends ago, and we didn’t fight once! To be fair, Max did most of it by himself while I painted the fence, and it was really nice and sunny, but despite being quite a lot of products it was pretty fun actually.

Although ‘flockdown’ is now over in the UK and the chickens are allowed to free range we will probably keep them on the run for a bit to get them used to the space and each other.”

eglu cube chicken coop with walk in chicken run in the garden

Have you decided what chickens you’re getting?

“There’s been a lot of discussion about this, we didn’t completely agree to begin with. But in the end we decided we wanted good layers, and quite big hens rather than bantams, so we went to see someone that breeds Buff Orpingtons, and I think that might be the breed we’ll go for.”

Rosie and Max are not the only ones in the family; they also live with Evie the Sprocker.

“I’m really not sure how she will react, but she’s been very interested in the coop going up. We will slowly try to introduce her to the chickens and hopefully she’ll be alright. She’s quite small, so maybe a big chicken will scare her a bit? We’ll see, but to start with she won’t be allowed into the garden if the chickens are out free ranging.”

What are you most looking forward to about becoming a chicken keeper?

“I really like the thought of having them around in the garden, pottering about. Of course the fresh eggs. My mum is a keen baker, so I’m sure she’ll be happy to have a few! And then I’m just looking forward to seeing Max with them, hopefully it’ll be just like he’s imagined it”.

And is there anything you’re scared of?

“I guess I’m a bit worried they are going to get ill or get some kind of parasites, it’s not nice to see your animals feel bad. But I also know that once you have a pet, making sure they are happy and healthy is not something you see as a problem or a hassle, you just do what you can to look after them in the best possible way.”

eglu cube chicken coop with walk in chicken run in garden


We’ll catch up with Rosie again next month when she’s picked up her chickens to hear how they are all getting on!

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A Day In The Life of A Chicken Tender

Miriam Drennan grew up on an organic farm with chickens, guineas, quail, cows, ponies, dogs, and any number of cats. She now lives in an urban neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee, and works as a freelance writer. She has had her current flock of hens for about two years. Even in an urban setting, she retains the practices her father taught her regarding how to care for the soil, plants, and creatures responsibly. It’s worth mentioning that her two rescue dogs, Anchor and Chance, are not much help around the house, and simply coast through life on their looks and charm.  Miriam is also an enthusiastic Omlet ambassador, so if you happen to pass by Tennessee and are interested in any of the products she has – get in contact!


“What’s it like, raising urban chickens?”

I get this question a lot, once people learn that I have hens in my backyard, three miles from downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Thanks to the Omlet system, it’s quite easy.

My set-up is simple and stylish—the Eglu Go Up Chicken Coop and its adjacent Walk in Chicken Run are surrounded by the Omlet chicken fencing. No running water or electricity, but I have found a few hacks when the weather gets extreme.

So—what is it like, raising urban chickens? The timeline will shed a little light on what an average day might look like for me.

7:15 a.m. The sun is just beginning to stir, but not fully awake, which is a good time to refill the feeder with fresh food and replace the water in the drinker. It’s easier to do this before turning them out; I can leave the gate open and wander in and out freely, which comes in handy when you are lugging heavy containers and bags. My girls eat organic food, sprinkled with some herbal supplements to keep their yolks bright yellow and their immune systems healthy.

7:30 a.m. This will be a big morning for them, because they are getting their Free Standing Chicken Perch! Where to place it? Finally, I find a spot and insert the stakes—the rain we had recently helps them go in easy, then I add some dried mealworms to the treat tray that attaches to it.

chickens playing with perch tree and treat holder

7:45 a.m. It’s still a bit chilly this morning, so I add another layer of straw on the floor of their yard. They have scratched it bare, which is what chickens do, and the straw keeps their feet from getting too cold. In the summer, I switch to shredded pine mulch.

7:55 a.m. Next, I sprinkle their yard with grit and oyster shell for their gizzards and calcium intake, respectively. Chickens enjoy scratching for treasures, so it doesn’t matter if I leave these in small bowls or sprinkle throughout their yard.

By now, the girls are stirring—they know I’m there, and they’re ready to get out and play. Time to turn the crank . . . and out they come, like big feathered cannonballs shot out of a cannon (who needs steps when you have feathers?). As they fluff and flap, let me introduce them:

  • Zuzu: A White Leghorn who looks brown because she likes to drink from mudpuddles. Although Zuzu is the smallest, she is the queen of the flock.
  • Daisy: An Easter Egger and friendly, she is the largest in the crew.
  • Dixie: An Olive Egger and shy; Dixie is a beautiful bluish-grey hen and her feathers are outlined in darker grey.
  • Beaker: A Speckled Sussex and a bit of a rebel. Beaker’s finally getting tiny pops of brilliant green, purple, and blue feathers after this last molting.

8:10 a.m. As expected, Zuzu is the first to approach the perch tree, cocking her head a bit. She realizes this new “thing” in her yard has treats, so she’s good with that. Beaker is next, followed by Daisy. Dixie is shy; she hangs back and eventually, snatches a mealworm and runs back to safety.

I leave them to get acquainted with their new toy.

8:30–9:45 a.m. They sing their egg songs for all the neighborhood to hear. (Thankfully, my neighbors think it’s funny.)

10:00 a.m. Lawn Man has arrived to mow and trim, and as far as the girls are concerned, he is Public Enemy #1. They don’t like his noisy machines and they don’t like him in their yard, even though they are completely enclosed and safe in their Walk-in Run. After running around, trying to figure out where to escape Lawn Man’s motorized beast, they settle for the area underneath their coop. I recently enclosed this section with a few Omlet Heavy Duty Tarps as another place they can use for privacy. They love it. It’s a great little space for dust baths, running from the Scary Evil Snow that falls, or just to gather and cluck. Only Zuzu dares to walk out and challenge Lawn Man, who tips his hat to her and mows on.

12:00 p.m. I have time between work calls to check for eggs. Happy hens are productive hens, and mine lay fairly consistently all year long. I credit the Eglu Go Up for a lot of this, because its insulation and design help maintain a fairly consistent temperature inside the coop. In the winter, I wrap the coop in Omlet’s Extreme Temperature Blanket, and if the temps dip to single digits, I might stick a hot water bottle inside with them—a bit of overkill, perhaps, because the Eglu’s insulation and the hens own body temperatures keep things quite warm inside. Each of mine lay an egg of a different color, which helps me keep up with who is producing and how often.

When I take a peek, I see that they’ve had a busy morning—all four have produced!

2:30 p.m. It’s warming into a nice spring day, so it’s time to clean the coop. Normally, it might take me 15–20 minutes total to clean, but today, I need to give it a really thorough scrub, so it might take about 30 minutes total. I dump the droppings into my composter and head for the outdoor spigot. A drop of the original Dawn dishwashing detergent makes this easy—the actual scrubbing takes less than 15 minutes. I leave the tray and roosting bar in the sun to dry while I wipe out the coop’s interior, which is easy. Zuzu wanders underneath to supervise, and lets me know whether I’ve missed a spot.

I finish drying the trays by hand and add soft pine shavings for a nest. Sliding the trays back in, I open the coop door again, so that each one can hop up the ladder and critique my work. Zuzu makes a point to tear up the nest within minutes after it’s in place—I’m not sure if that’s a compliment, or if she’s demanding a do-over?

4:30 p.m. My neighbor Lisa texts that she has some spinach for the girls. We place the spinach in their Caddi Treat Holder. Their reaction is priceless; to them, Lisa = Spinach, so they’re always excited to see her. We chat and watch them still figuring out their new perch tree.

eggs in carton and chickens on omlet chicken perch

7:30 p.m. The sun is setting; most of the girls have gone up. All but Beaker. Always Beaker. Why does she linger and wander around?

7:32 p.m. Beaker, aren’t you tired?

7:35 p.m. C’mon Beaker, why do you do me this way?

7:42 p.m. She’s going, going . . . nope, false alarm! She’s back in the yard. And now she’s got Dixie with her.

7:50 p.m. Dixie hops back inside the coop. Beaker, why won’t you do the same?

8:08 p.m. Finally, finally, Beaker turns in. I slink back out to the coop, because I know the slightest noise will bring her right back out. I quietly unhook the fence and turn the crank on the coop’s door.

Good night, ladies, I whisper.

I hear a gentle cluck-cluck-cluck as I’m walking away, telling me to sleep well.

Only now am I aware of hushed laughter, a neighbor’s guitar, and a faraway siren to remind me that yes, my chickens are city girls, and thanks to the Omlet system and accessories, they are safe, happy, and healthy.

That’s what it’s like to raise urban chickens.

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Normal Chicken Behavior (and not so normal)

women having tea with their chickens by the large chicken coop eglu cube

Sometimes chickens behave in a strange way, and it’s not always easy to figure out if it’s normal chicken behavior or whether something is wrong. Here are some things your flock might get up to, so you can easily figure out what they are actually up to!

My chicken is rolling around in the flower bed

This is completely normal. Chickens don’t wash themselves with water like you and I, but to get rid of dirt and parasites from their skin and feathers they have dust baths. When doing so, they look for a dry piece of soil or sand. They then lie down and use their wings to flap up the loose dust to let it run between their feathers and “wash” away dirt. It can look a bit strange, almost alarming in some cases, but it’s something they love doing and that is very good for them as well. 

My chicken is losing its feathers

Whether or not to worry depends on how your chicken is losing them. All chickens lose their feathers once a year in a process called molting, where they shed old feathers and grow new ones in a way to keep the plumage strong and healthy. This can look quite messy, and you might find that hens stop laying while molting. However, this is completely normal, and you don’t necessarily have to intervene in any way. 

If you notice that your chicken is losing feathers but is not molting it could be a sign that something is not right, especially if she has got bald patches on her neck or chest. This could either be that she’s picking her own feathers, or that she is being badly bullied by others in the flock. Both of these things could indicate that your chickens are stressed or bored, often due to lack of space and stimulation. Inspect the flock as they interact with each other and see if you can notice any feather pecking.

If you find that the feather loss is indeed self-inflicted or caused by another hen, try to give the flock more space and something to keep them busy. Maybe a larger Walk In Chicken Run with a super fun PoleTree Chicken Perch Tree? You can find more ideas on how to entertain your flock here

My chicken won’t leave the nest box

If you’ve got a hen who is refusing to leave the nest box, it’s most likely because she is feeling broody. This happens to hens from time to time (to some breeds more often than others), most likely because a maternal instinct has kicked in and she wants to sit on her eggs until they hatch. To her, it doesn’t matter that they aren’t fertilized and will never result in any chicks – she will stay put regardless. 

You will probably struggle to move her from the nest box but put on some gloves and try to get her out to make sure she gets to move around and have some food and water. A hen will most likely snap out of this state after around 21 days, but there are ways to break the broodiness and prevent it happening again. You can read more about it in this previous blog post about broody hens.

My chickens seem to be bullying another hen

Unfortunately this can also be seen as normal chicken behavior. Chickens in a flock need to establish a pecking order to decide who is top hen, and this is often decided through some rather unfriendly pecking and flighting. 

If you have just introduced some new chickens or if the flock is new, you will likely see some fighting for a week or so. As long as no one is getting seriously injured, you’re best off staying out of it. If your hens however have been living together for a while and you still find that the other hens are picking on a specific individual you might have to interfere, as this will be stressful for the whole flock.

It’s always best to separate the main bully. Keep her elsewhere for a few days, and then slowly reintroduce her to the flock. In some cases, a rearrangement in the pecking order can solve things.

My chicken is eating its eggs

This is not normal chicken behavior. It’s not necessarily bad for your chickens’ health if they get into the habit of eating their eggs, but not only is it annoying for you to miss out on delicious eggs, it could also be a sign that something is not right. 

The cause of this behavior could be that your hens are dehydrated or vitamin deficient, or that they are stressed or anxious. It could also be that they feel the nesting box isn’t safe or comfortable enough. The nesting box in the Eglu Cube Large Chicken Coop is a good example of what chickens like when laying. Its’ dark, deep and private, and up to three hens can nest at the same time. 

Keep on top of egg collection and keep an eye on your chickens to make sure they are otherwise happy, and they should hopefully snap out of the habit before too long.

two chickens in portable chicken coop eglu go up

My chicken is panting

Chicken have no sweat glands, so like dogs they drive off body heat by panting. This is normal chicken behavior and just a way for your hens to stay cool, so unless the panting is excessive and you have made sure she has access to shade and plenty of water, it’s not necessarily something to worry about. 

That being said, panting can also be a sign of stress or breathing problems, so if it’s not warm outside or your chicken is panting more than you think is normal, you should definitely check for other symptoms, and potentially take her to the vet for a check up. 

My chicken has stopped laying

Again, it depends on a few different things, mainly the age of your chicken, the time of year, and your hens’ general health. It’s normal for most chickens to stop laying over the winter, as egg laying is strongly linked to hours of sunlight. They will also stop laying when molting, or if something has interrupted their routine. 

Again it’s useful to take a step back and see how your chickens are doing. Carry out a health check to make sure they are not ill or have parasites, check that they are getting enough good quality feed, and make sure there isn’t anything in or around the coop that is making them stressed or anxious.

It should also be said that hens only have a predefined number of eggs in them, so if your hen is getting older it’s completely normal for her production to slow down and eventually stop. This is particularly common for ex-battery hens who have been laying intensely for the first 18 months of her life. You can read more about why chickens might not lay in this blog post.


We hope that was helpful. If you have any other questions about normal chicken behavior, comment below and we will follow up with another post! You will also find lots of other Omlet blog posts that go into more detail about the behavior we’ve mentioned here, so check it out to learn more!

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Everything You Need to Know About Chicken Wings

 

Chickens free ranging outside Omlet Walk in run in the backyard

No, not those chicken wings. If you’re looking for a recipe or tasty takeout, you’re in the wrong place. We’re taking a look at everything you need to know about chicken wings, actual chickens’ wings, and answering some common questions.

Can chickens fly?

Yes, and no. Chicken should technically be able to fly, they have strong wings, large feathers and hollow bones that makes the body lighter. The ancestors of today’s chickens, the red jungle fowl, escaped land-based predators by flying up into trees. Having said that, not even they were able to fly longer distances, as they didn’t have the endurance.

When chickens were domesticated, and later on selectively bred to produce more eggs and more meat, their muscles grew, and most backyard chickens today have too big a body for the wings to hold them. So, while you might see lighter chicken breeds flapping their wings to get up onto their chicken perch tree, garden chairs and low hanging branches, they would struggle to get very far.

Do chickens want to fly?

In general, if your chickens have enough enrichment and feel happy with their coop and run, they will have very little interest in flying. Make sure they have opportunities to carry out all their natural behaviors, like perching and pecking, and that they have ample space to move around.

Give your hens a safe environment, for example with a large Eglu Cube Chicken Coop and Walk In Chicken Run, and they won’t be looking for greener grass. If you’re having some trouble with adventurous chickens trying to escape, read our previous post Help, My Chicken Keeps Flying Away! for more tips.

How do chickens use their wings?

While chickens are more or less flightless birds, they still use their wings for other purposes. As we mentioned, the wings help chickens jump, sometimes impressively high, and they are also useful for balance when getting down from an elevated space.

Chickens also use their wings for mating, to regulate body temperature, and to scare off predators. Mother hens also shelter their young under their wings to keep them warm, and to hide them from external threats.

Should l clip my chickens’ wings?

This is a commonly discussed topic among chicken keepers. While clipping a chicken’s wings doesn’t cause them any pain (as long as you do it right), some people still think chickens should have the opportunity to fly, however limited. This is as it gives them a possibility to escape potential danger.

Other chicken keepers argue that clipping the wings and stopping a particularly flighty hen from escaping the enclosure and running into the neighbors’ backyard or out onto the road is actually the safer option.

Whether you want to clip your chickens’ wings is up to you, and depends a bit on your circumstances, but if you do decide to, you will need to make sure you do it right.

How do I clip my chickens’ wings?

All you need is a sharp pair of scissors, and ideally an extra set of hands to hold the chicken.

  • Extend the wing fully
  • Identify where the primary flight feathers meet the covert feathering. This should be a pretty obvious line.
  • Only cut the primary feathers, and be very careful you don’t cut the body of the wing itself. This is normally about 10 feathers.

Never cut growing feathers with a dark quill, these are growing feathers that will bleed if cut. You only need to clip one wing, as this will make the hen unbalanced, and unable to lift very high.

Watch this video to get a full understanding of how to properly clip your chickens’ wings!

Do the wings grow back?

Yes, when the hens molt they gradually lose their feathers, and grow new ones. These will grow to full length, even if you clipped the old feathers. Backyard hens (and roosters) molt once, or maybe twice, a year, so that is how often you will need to cut the feathers if you want to stop your birds from flapping over the fence.

What are wing claws?

Wing claws are small curved claws that stick out from the last joint of the wing. This is a trait left over from when the birds needed to climb up trees and then glide down the stems, and were possibly also used in fights.

As the birds have evolved to no longer need these claws, they have grown much smaller, and on many hens they are not visible.

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Hatching Eggs 101

 

Baby chicks outside on grass with mother hen

Considering hatching chicken eggs? Well, you’re in for an exciting time! Hatching eggs is an unforgettable experience for any chicken keeper but before you begin, here is the hatching eggs 101 guide to ensure that you and your chicks get off to the best start!

Why Should I Hatch Eggs?

First and foremost, chickens make fantastic pets. In fact, this month we’re telling you all about why chickens are so great! Have a read of our Chicken Keeping Myths blog that will set straight facts from fiction when it comes to getting chickens.

In addition to this, hatching eggs is an incredibly rewarding experience. From incubating eggs to seeing your chicks hatch, and then going on to flourish as adult chickens. You really do witness life from its very beginning!

Can I Hatch Supermarket Eggs?

Here we have a very common egg hatching myth… or, is it? We’ve all heard a story from a friend of a friend who has supposedly hatched a supermarket egg. While the possibility of this seems exciting, the reality is that is a highly unlikely event.

For an egg to hatch it must be fertilized, and fertile eggs are hardly found in our supermarket aisles. For an egg to be fertilized, the hen must have had access to a male chicken. This does not occur for most chickens that produce eggs for our supermarkets. However, you may find that if you shop for eggs at a farm shop where hens have had interaction with a cockerel, the eggs you pick up could, in fact, be fertile. This still doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to hatch chicks, though, as the conditions in which the eggs are contained also plays a role in the development from egg to chick. For example, being refrigerated or the humidity levels being unsuitable, will stunt this development. So, if you’re looking to hatch chicks, supermarket eggs is probably not the way to go.”

Where Do I Get the Eggs?

One good place to start on your egg hunt is by contacting a reliable chicken breeder. It’s important to note that while a chicken breeder can be confident that the eggs they’re selling are fertilized, this still doesn’t mean a 100% guarantee. Therefore, choosing an experienced breeder will give you the best chance. The method most breeders will use to see if an egg is fertilized is called candling. This is whereby an egg is very literally held up to a warm candle. If the egg appears to be opaque when candled, then it is most likely fertilized.

Alternatively, you can also buy fertilized eggs online from websites such as eBay, Craigslist, or browse chicken keeping forums. Again, always buy from sellers with a good reputation. If you’re unsure of what chicken breed is right for you, have a read of our Chicken Breed Guide to find your perfect fit!

Regardless of whether you obtain your eggs from a breeder, farmer, or via an online community, if you can, opt for a local breeder or farmer over having your eggs shipped to you. This is because shipped eggs have reduced hatch rates. This is mainly due to conditions such as excessive shaking/poor handling or the temperature they have travelled at.

What Do I Need?

Hatching eggs doesn’t have to be complicated! If you’re new to the incubation process, it might initially seem a little daunting trying to work out how you can take your eggs to baby chicks! Fortunately, Omlet has everything you need to guide you on along the hatching process. Other than of course fertile eggs, you’ll only need an egg carton, water, and most importantly an egg incubator to begin.

A smaller chicken egg incubator like the Brinsea Mini II Advance is ideal for beginners. It can hatch up to 7 chicken eggs and is fitted with a digital alarm and countdown to hatch day system.

If you’re looking to hatch more eggs, the Brinsea Ovation 28 EX incubator is great, with space for up to 28 chicken eggs, along with a range of advanced features like automatic egg turning and an incubator temperature alarm. The egg incubator also has an automatic humidity control feature, and with two of the leading causes of hatching failure being incorrect temperature and humidity levels, it’s helpful to be able to keep track of this. The optimal temperature for hatching chicks is 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, but for a more in-depth guide on what temperature and humidity levels should be throughout the process, take a look at our Step by Step Guide to Hatching Chicks blog, which will take you through a daily routine towards hatching eggs.

How Long Will it Take?

The incubation period for chicken eggs is usually 21 days. This being said, some eggs may hatch slightly before or after this period. Approximately between 25-50% of eggs, however, might not make it to hatch day for various reasons. Some are due to the incubation process, while others are out of your control. For example, a genetic problem with the embryo.

Alternatively, you can let a hen do the work and put fertilized eggs under a broody hen. However, if that’s not possible for you, hatching artificially is a great option!


What Happens When the Eggs Are Hatched?

It’s day 21 and the big hatch day has arrived! The first sign of hatching you’ll notice is known as pipping. This is when your chick will break a small hole in its shell. The next stage is called zipping! During this stage, your chick will start turning inside its shell, before making a full breakthrough! At this time, keep a close eye on your eggs, as the zipping process can be as quick as 30 minutes!

As previously mentioned, however, some eggs take a bit longer to make an appearance than others. Therefore, you should avoid removing any chicks that have already hatched from their incubator too soon. This could hugely disturb the environment for any other remaining eggs that are left hatch. You should wait up to 12 hours before considering assisting with hatching as a last resort. Chicks can go 3 days without food or water, so do not be in a rush to help with hatching, therefore disturbing your chicks, if this is not completely necessary. Before you then go on to remove any remaining eggs inside the incubator that have not hatched, wait until day 25 just to be safe.

If you’re new to raising chicks, we also recommend reading our 6 Mistakes To Avoid When Raising Chicks to help you with this stage after they have hatched.

What Happens to Male Chicks?

Before deciding on hatching eggs, it’s a good idea to know what your plan is should the result be a male chick/s. In the world of egg production, male baby chicks are considered a by-product of the industry. They are, in many circumstances, therefore discarded at an early stage of their lives.

Ultimately, many chicken keepers decide on keeping only female chickens, or hens. This is because cockerels, which you might have heard being called roosters, can have their downsides. For one, they don’t produce eggs! However, this doesn’t mean a cockerel won’t fit into your life perfectly, depending on why you want to keep chickens. Have a read of our guide Everything You Need To Know About Keeping Roosters, which will help you to decide on whether one of these beautiful birds is right for you.

Something worth noting here is that it can be difficult to sex chicks until they are slightly older. It’s not usually until between weeks 5-9 when they’ll start showing these determining differences. For more information on this subject, read our blog How to Tell a Cockerel From a Hen.

If you decide that having male chickens is not for you, then you do have the option to sell them. Just because a male chicken might not be right for you, they might be for someone else. Asking around on websites such as Craigslist or Facebook is a good place to begin.

What Next?

Now, we all know how cute baby chicks are! However, let’s not forget that after you hatch chicken eggs, these fluffy yellow birds will soon of course be fully grown chickens. Once your chicks are adults, Omlet has just what you need to provide your birds with the best life they can have! Keep them happy and healthy with a range of Omlet chicken keeping products including the Omlet Eglu Chicken Coop which hens can move into from 12 weeks old!

Chickens outside in their pink Omlet Eglu Go Chicken Coop and run

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Chicken Keeping Myths

What’s stopping people from getting chickens? Today we’re busting some chicken keeping myths to ensure no one is staying away from these wonderful pets for the wrong reasons. Perfect to read up on if you’re trying to persuade a hen-hesitant friend, partner or parent!

 group of chickens outside wooden chicken coop with Omlet automatic chicken coop door

Chickens smell

Chickens themselves are actually pretty cleanly animals and will regularly carry out dust baths to get rid of any dirt in their plumage. Sure, they do get muddy feet sometimes, but it’s nothing that will smell. 

What smells is droppings and dirt that gets stuck in the coop, so if you carry out regular coop cleans you will never have to worry about unpleasant odors. With an easy clean chicken coop like the Eglus, getting your chickens’ home sparkly clean and fresh smelling will take you minutes!

You need a rooster to get eggs

Nope, not at all. Chickens will lay the same number of eggs whether there’s a rooster in the flock or not. However, roosters are of course necessary if you want fertilized eggs for chicks. 

Chickens take a lot of time

Chickens, like all other animals, will take some time and commitment, but in comparison to most other pets they are incredibly self-sufficient. On a daily basis you will need to let them out of the coop, fill up their food and water and give them a quick health check. Other than that, they will happily peck around in the backyard by themselves. 

You will of course also have to keep their home nice and clean, but that is made quick and simple with an easy clean chicken coop, like Omlet’s Eglus. If you want to optimize chicken keeping even more, you can invest in an Automatic Chicken Coop Door that will let your flock out in the morning and tuck them up at night when they’ve returned to the coop. 

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Chickens destroy your backyard

This depends a bit on what chickens you have and how many, but yes, it’s true that a flock of hens cooped up on a small area might do some damage to your lawn. There are three ways to go about this. 

  • Let your hens free range as much as possible – over a larger area their pecking will barely be noticeable.  
  • Get a portable chicken coop which you can move around the backyard as often as you like. If you move it a few times every week, your chickens won’t have time to ruin the grass.
  • Create a hen specific part of the backyard, with a larger Walk in Chicken run or chicken fencing. That way, even if the hens do scratch up some of the grass, you can decide where they do it.

chicken pecking at omlet chicken peck toy

Chicken manure is too strong to use in the backyard

Quite the opposite! Chicken manure is one of the best fertilizers there is and having a steady stream of it coming from your coop will have a hugely positive impact on your garden in your backyard.

That being said, you should always compost chicken droppings before using it on your flowers or vegetables. Because it is so strong and powerful, fresh manure might actually burn your crop.

Chickens need a lot of space

Obviously the space you need depends on the size of flock you’re planning on, but in general most chickens will be happy in the average sized backyard. 

Ideally the space where you’re keeping your chickens should be fenced off, to prevent them wandering into the neighbor’s outdoor space and laying any precious eggs there. 

Grass isn’t essential either, if you haven’t got a big lawn. A layer of wood chippings to pick around in will provide your hens with something to scratch on, and wood chippings have the right type of surface underfoot.

Chickens are noisy

You don’t need to worry about this one. Chickens make noises, some breeds more than others, but it’s a pleasant clucking and purring even the grumpiest of neighbors won’t object to. Roosters are a different story, they can be pretty loud, but as you’ve already found out, you’ll be fine having only hens. 

Chickens will attract rats

Chickens themselves will not attract rodents to your backyard, mice and rats are in fact often scared of chickens and their sharp beaks. The problem here is the food; chicken feed and corn left on the ground can be difficult for pests to resist. You can prevent them from getting interested in your chickens’ home by keeping feed in airtight containers and giving your flock snacks in treat holders and peck toys that are more difficult for other animals to get to. We’ve written a whole other blog about how to keep rats away from your chicken coop.

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8 Things Chicken Keepers Love About the Autodoor

Omlet’s innovative Omlet chicken Autodoor is the must have accessory for any chicken keeper! The automatic chicken coop door has been designed to make letting chickens in and out of the coop safe and convenient for both pet and owner. Here’s 8 things chicken keepers love about the Autodoor!

The Omlet Automatic Chicken Coop Door on an Omlet Eglu run and on a traditional wooden coop

1. Lets chickens out and closes to secure them in

The Omlet Autodoor is battery powered, using a light sensor or timer to give chicken keepers full control over when their chickens should be in and out of the coop or run. The door offers maximum security when chickens are being kept inside, and simply lets them out as you decide. This means that there is no need to rush out of bed on early summer mornings to let the chickens out, and on dark winter evenings, chicken keepers can be sure their flock is safely tucked in the coop if they have to stay late at work.

2. Choose from three settings

Chicken keepers can use the Omlet chicken Autodoor to fit around their lifestyle with three unique settings. By choosing the light setting, your Autodoor can be automated to close at dusk and open at dawn. The feature naturally follows the seasons, so that chicken keepers don’t have to worry about adjusting this setting throughout the year. The time setting allows users to choose an exact time for the door to open and close, while the manual setting gives chicken keepers the option to control the door however they wish.

3. Easy to use!

Another thing that chicken keepers love about the Omlet Autodoor is how easy it is to use, regardless of how good (or bad!) your DIY skills are! The Omlet Autodoor comes with everything chicken keepers need in one place, making assembling your door as simple as can be. Who said chicken keeping had to be complicated?!

4. Built-in safety sensors

Because of the Omlet Autodoor’s built-in safety sensors, there’s no potential risk of the door accidentally shutting on any chickens or obstructions. Should a chicken or any other obstruction be in the way of the door as it goes to close, then the sensors will simply open the Omlet Autodoor again, allowing your chicken to move before it tries to close again.

The Omlet Automatic Chicken Coop Door control panel

5. Works in all weather conditions

Having been put through exhaustive testing, the Omlet Autodoor can withstand even the most extreme weather conditions from as low as -4°F! Furthermore, the Omlet Autodoor LCD control panel has been designed with triple weather-proof casing, making the Omlet Autodoor an incredibly durable product.

6. Improves insulation

Chicken keepers know the importance of insulation when it comes to their chickens’ coop. This is why the Omlet Autodoor has been engineered to improve this. Since the automatic door can be used to upgrade virtually any chicken coop, even wooden chicken coops that are traditionally more difficult to keep well insulated over Eglu Chicken Coops, can still benefit from having the Omlet Autodoor.

7. Closes horizontally

Traditional chicken coop door models often use a string or a pulley system that lifts vertically, giving cunning predators the opportunity to access your chickens’ coop or run using strength. Something that makes the Omlet Autodoor so different and a reason why chicken keepers love the product, is that it closes horizontally, meaning that you can be assured that your flock will remain safe and sound!

8. Battery powered or the option to be plugged in

Another one of the 8 things chicken keepers love about the Omlet Autodoor is that it can either be powered by battery or plugged into a power strip/outlet using the 12V Power Adaptor for the Automatic Chicken Coop Door, giving chicken keepers flexibility to set up their Omlet Autodoor as they would like!

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Give Your Eglu Chicken Coop a Spring Clean

Woman cleaning Eglu Go Up Raised Chicken Coop

Giving your Eglu Coop a spring clean won’t take you long! It’s soon coming up to that time of year when your chicken coop is probably looking a bit worse for wear. The hens have been cooped up inside more than normal, there’s probably plenty of mud around the garden your hens have been spreading around, and you might have kept spending time in the cold to a minimum. 

Don’t put it off any longer – time for the annual chicken coop spring clean! If you have a wooden chicken coop, you might think you have to block out the whole day for this task, but if you’re lucky enough to own an Eglu Chicken Coop, you’ll be done before the family notices you have gone outside. 

Let us talk you through just how easy it is to clean an Eglu Chicken Coop!

1 – Empty the droppings tray

All Eglu Chicken Coops have a slide out dropping tray where all your chickens’ waste lands when they are roosting at night. Just take out the tray, empty it on your compost heap (it will make great fertiliser next year!) and hose or wipe down the tray to make it sparkling clean again!

2 – Take out and clean all removable parts

Once the tray is clean, leave it to one side and remove all other loose parts of your Eglu. The back panel, the roosting bars and nesting box can all be taken out for cleaning. If you have an Eglu Cube, you can also take out the partition between the egg box and the roosting space. 

Feeders, drinkers, any chicken treat toys or other accessories should also be taken off for a refreshing wash and remove chicken perches from your run.

Give all of these a thorough clean. If you have a pressure washer you can just lay them out on the lawn or on your patio and spray them clean, but it’s just as easy with a garden hose or simply a bucket of water and a soft cloth. 

Children giving chicken coop a spring clean

3 – Hose and wipe smooth surfaces

While all loose parts are out, give the inside of the coop a wash as well. Because all the surfaces of the Eglu Plastic Chicken Coops are smooth, and there are no inconvenient nooks and crannies like you would find in a wooden coop, you will be able to easily find any dirt and quickly remove it.

Thanks to the hard wearing, durable materials of the coops, you are not weakening the coop by scrubbing and cleaning it, and as nothing is absorbed by the plastic, you don’t have to use any strong chemicals to get the coop clean. In most cases warm, soapy water will be enough, but if you’ve got some tough stains you can spray on a pet-safe disinfectant.  

If you have a Eglu Cube Large Chicken Coop or a Eglu Go UP Raised Chicken Coop, all this spring cleaning can be done standing up at a convenient height. That way you have a good view of the coop without having to crawl on all fours. Perfect if your knees are not what they used to be!

4 – Move the coop to fresh grass

If you have wheels on your Eglu Coop, and it’s not attached to a larger structure, this is the perfect time to move it to a different place in the garden. Maybe you want to place it somewhere shadier to prepare for warm spring days, or just use another part of the garden to save the grass from getting too pecked?

The dropping tray and wipeable roosting bars keeps your Eglu looking fresh for longer.

eglu cube easy to clean chicken coop

5 – Leave to dry

You should always let the coop dry before you let your chickens back in again, damp environments are really bad for chickens’ respiratory systems. With wooden coops, you’re looking at at least a few hours before the coop is dry again, but with the Eglus, and maybe a bit of help from the sun, the hens can start using the coop in no time. If you want to speed up the process, you can even dry all the components with a towel before you reassemble.

6 – Get everything ready

Last bit is to put some new, fresh bedding in the nest box, refill the feeder and drinker and put all accessories back. If you want to give your chickens a bit of extra protection, this is also a good time to sprinkle some mite powder around the roosting bars to prevent any pesky pests from attacking your hens at night. 

Depending on how thorough you’ve been with your weekly cleans, to give your Eglu chicken coop a spring clean should not take you longer than half an hour. Your coop will look even better in the garden, and your flock will really appreciate all your hard work! And if you haven’t got chickens already, find out why spring is the perfect time to start your chicken keeping journey in this blog.

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Winter Chicken Keeping FAQs

Will my chickens get too cold over winter?

Chickens acclimatize themselves very well to the cold weather and are actually able to adapt better to the cold than they are to the heat! As long as they have an insulated coop like the Eglu to keep them snug, you won’t need to worry about them becoming too chilly over winter. You might notice your chickens fluffing up their feathers or huddling together to share body heat through the winter to keep warm. Like many other birds, chickens also often adopt the ‘one leg’ look, tucking one of their limbs up into the warmth of their bellies. This reduces overall heat loss and stops feet and toes from freezing on the icy ground.

A boy sitting in an Eglu chicken enclosure in the snow

Eglu chicken coops offer protection from all types of weather extremes.

Can chickens get frostbite?

As it’s unlikely that your chickens will ever become too cold, frostbite and hypothermia are usually the result of excess moisture in their coop as opposed to low temperatures. Make sure to opt for a coop with draft free ventilation to help with this. Particularly breeds with large combs and wattles run the risk of frostbite on these sensitive body parts during winter, so to prevent this from happening you will need to gently rub Vaseline on their combs and wattles.

Do I need to insulate my chicken coop?

Well-insulated coops like the Eglus will keep your chickens warm in winter by capturing the heat from the chickens’ bodies while not letting any cold air travel through the walls. They are also designed to let air flow through the coop to prevent a buildup of moisture, without any nasty drafts. You can increase the level of protection against the most extreme temperatures with the Omlet range of insulating blankets and jackets. If you do not have a cozy Eglu, a wooden coop can be insulated with bubble-wrap, cardboard or old carpets or blankets.

Should I heat my chicken coop?

Did you know that heating your coop can prevent your chickens wanting to go outside?

This is because they may struggle to adapt to the cold after staying inside their heated coop, making them less likely to get that exercise, fresh air, and entertainment that they require to stay happy and healthy! Furthermore, your chickens also run the risk of getting a shock at a sudden drop in temperature if the power was to go off for some reason, as well as heaters in the coop being a potential fire hazard.

What should I feed my chickens in winter?

Over winter, it’s a good idea to continue to feed your chickens a diet of high-quality layers pellets to keep them healthy. They usually eat more during cold weather to fuel their metabolism and stay warm, so you’ll want to add in a little extra to their usual feed. Providing your chickens with additional vitamins and minerals will help to keep their immune systems up to scratch over the winter. Additionally, make sure to watch your chickens’ water. Be prepared to break the ice, and have some spare water dispensers ready in case things freeze up entirely.

Will my chickens become unwell over winter?

Just like us, some chickens with a weak immune system can be more vulnerable to illness in winter time. Look out for coughs, sneezes, lethargy, or other signs of illness in your chickens. For a bit more advice, you can read the Omlet guide on how to look after your chickens’ general health.

Hens on their Omlet perch protected from the elements in their Omlet run

The Omlet Chicken Perch fits any Eglu Chicken Coop, Walk in Run or a DIY coop!

Do chickens roost for longer in winter?

Chickens love to roost, and during winter, they’ll be doing a lot more of it. You’ll find that they huddle together into one feathery ball, which is what helps them to keep each other warm, especially at night. The perches need to be wide enough so that they can cover their toes with their feathers. To prevent their feet from getting too cold, you’ll need to give your chickens a place to perch in both their coop and run.

How can I keep my chickens entertained during winter?

Winter is the time of year when backyard chickens might need a little bit more entertaining. Fortunately, you keep your chickens happy with a few boredom busters such as peck toys, perches, and chicken swings. Alternatively, a pile of leaves will provide your chickens with hours of fun and keep them out of mischief over winter when there’s fewer bugs to feast on and no grass or weeds to munch on.

Will my hens still lay eggs in winter?

The time of year can actually have an impact on how many eggs your chickens are producing! This is due to a hen’s hormonal response to how much light they are exposed to. They’ll typically need between 12-14 hours of daylight each day to produce eggs, and 16 hours for optimum production. Therefore, for most breeds, hens tend to either stop, or drastically reduce their egg laying output in the colder months when there is less daylight.

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How to Keep Your Chickens Fit and Healthy this Winter

healthy hens in winter pecking outside an eglu cube

For any animal living outdoors, winter is likely to be the most challenging time of year, and chickens are no exception. The days are short, there aren’t as many bugs and plants to peck at, and the humans they like following around the garden tend to spend less time outside. The days can get a bit repetitive, and even more so in years with avian flu outbreaks, when hens are not allowed to roam free in the garden.

Chickens will do their best to find ways to entertain themselves, but there is only so much excitement they can invent before they turn to pecking their friends or eating feathers and eggs. That’s why it’s important for you as an owner to step in and make sure your flock has enough stimulation and entertainment in their run to make it through to warmer weather and longer days.

Here are some suggestions on how you can keep your chickens fit, healthy and entertained this winter:

Perches

One of the best things you can do to enrich your hen’s environment is to invest in a range of perches. Perching is an extremely relaxing and stimulating activity for chickens and having perches at different heights in the run will make their day much more exciting.

Omlet’s Chicken Perch is perfect for this. You can accessorize with as many perches as you want to keep your feathery friends entertained.

Make sure there is enough space for the whole flock to perch and customize the position of the perches to make sure they fit the age and ability of your pets. 

Bigger run

Having more space to move around on will, unsurprisingly, encourage chickens to exercise and explore. As you might not be able to let your flock free range at the moment, providing them with a bigger run is a good solution. The Omlet Walk In Run can be customized to fit the space you’ve got and will hinder all types of predators from getting to your hens. You can also accessorize it with covers to stop rain, and visits from wild birds.

If you already have a Walk In Run, remember that you can extend it at any time with easy to add panels. Use the handy extension configurator on our website to see what opportunities you have to make your run bigger!

chickens perching to stay happy in winter

Straw or hay bales

You might have seen your hens absolutely demolish a pile of leaves as you were raking the lawn this fall. They hate piles and mounds and will do their very best to level anything they can to the ground, while also looking for yummy bugs and seeds.

Place an appropriately sized bale in the run, and your chickens will immediately jump on top and peck away!

(Please note that to limit the spread of avian flu, it’s important that you get your bales from a place where they have not been in contact with wild birds or other poultry.)

Toys

Like with dogs and small children, the right toys will keep your hens occupied for hours! Peck Toys, like Omlet’s Poppy or Pendant, are slow release treat toys that randomly scatter treats, corn or grit as the chickens peck them. The Poppy is pressed into the ground and sways as it’s pecked, whereas Pendant is hung from the run or any other structure.

Give your flock a couple of peck toys to play with to minimize the risk of the dominant members of the flock having all the fun!

Extra treats

Of course, you don’t want your chickens to overeat at a time when they are not as active as they might be during the warmer months and providing hens with a balanced diet is the best thing you can do to keep them fit and healthy. With that being said, occasionally giving them high quality goodies can help them stay warm, while also activating their mind and bodies.

Some seasonal fruits or veggies fit perfectly into the Caddi Treat Holders, which can be hung from the roof of your run, or a high perch. As the chickens peck the tasty balls, the Caddi will swing and create a rewarding challenge for your flock – it will keep them going for hours!

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How to Tell a Rooster From a Hen

A cockerel and hen with a Caddi Treat Holder and Peck Toy

Are you considering incubating some of your chicken’s eggs? Or maybe you’ve even already welcomed in some newly hatched chicks and have been left wondering how exactly you can tell which sex they are?!

While both are chickens, a rooster is a male, and a hen is a female. When it comes to chicks, you may be familiar with the term ‘pullet’, which is the name given to a hen who is from the current year’s breeding. You may find it useful to take a look at the Omlet Chicken Glossary and our blog on how to tell the age of your chickens to find out some further information on this subject.

So, now we have established what both are, we can look into what the physical and behavioral differences are between them. It’s worth noting that most of these differences won’t be immediately identifiable upon hatching, and may slightly vary from breed to breed. However, later in this blog we’ll look more at the weekly development of chicks, and at which stage you will be able to tell a cockerel from a hen.

5 Easy Ways to Tell Physical Difference Between a Rooster and a Hen

Hackle Feathers

When we look at determining the sex of a chicken, this is called sexing. One way to do this is by looking at their feathers, their hackle feathers in particular. Hackle feathers are the type of feathers that you’ll find around a chicken’s neck, with the appearance differing between males and females. Something you’ll notice is that male chickens have long, pointy, and thin hackles, which stand up. This is so that they can make themselves appear bigger when they are facing an opponent. Female hackles, on the other hand, are smaller, rounder, and softer.

Do They Have a Cockerel Tail?

Looking at the tail feathers of your birds is another way to distinguish between a male and female chicken.

Saddle feathers are a type of tail feather, which extend on from a chicken’s back and actually sit in front of the tail. While both hens and roosters have saddle feathers, with female chickens, these are rounder than the saddle feathers of male chickens, which are not only longer, but also more pointed.

Next we have sickle feathers, which hens do not have. These are the long, arched feathers which you find sticking out from a rooster’s tail.

Feet and Legs

Roosters tend to have sturdier, thicker legs, which are actually to serve the purpose of fighting when they need to defend their flock. We’ll look at behavioral differences more later on in the blog.

Spur growth, a part of the leg bone which resembles a horn, could also be another indication of whether you have a rooster or a hen. These are found on the back of chickens’ feet, and while not exclusively being a physical attribute of male chickens, these are a lot more common to find on roosters as opposed to hens. The spurs on a male chicken can be inches long and are sharper than those you’d see on a female, should she have any growth at all.

Combs and Wattles

Hens and roosters both have combs and wattles, with the comb being located at the top of a chicken’s head, and the wattles hanging below their chin. The appearance of a chicken’s comb and wattle will differ between breeds, however generally speaking, you can sex a chick by looking at their comb. This is because while hens and roosters have red combs, a hen’s comb is not as bright or large as a rooster’s, which is vibrant and will feel waxy to touch.

When it comes to wattles, hens’ are smaller in size than the wattle you’ll see on a rooster. Just as the comb, a rooster’s wattle will also be brighter in color than a hen’s.

Are They Laying Eggs?

Egg laying is one sure way to know whether you have a male or female chicken! If you notice that your chicken is laying eggs, regardless of whether their other physical or behavioral traits have said otherwise, then your chicken is most definitely a hen!

Three hens nesting in the Eglu Go UP chicken coop

What are the Behavioral Differences Between a Hen and a Rooster?

Rooster vs. Hen Behavior

We’ve looked at the physical difference between hens and cockerels, but what are the different behavioral traits that will help you to sex your chickens?

One big difference is vocalizations, or how your chickens communicate via the sounds they make. Roosters are notorious for their usually very noisy cock-a-doodle-doo crow! They begin to crow at around five months old, or when they have matured, and do so for a number of reasons. This can be to announce their dominant presence, to mark their territory, or even as a mating ritual.

While it’s definitely not impossible for a hen to crow, it’s a lot less common, and should they do so, it’s often a lot quieter as well. If a female chicken does begin to crow, this is usually because they are at top of the pecking order or will occur in the absence of a rooster in the flock when you previously had one.

You may also notice differences in the levels of aggression between roosters and hens. Unfortunately, bullying amongst chickens is not that uncommon and can happen for a multitude of reasons. While this behavior is not exclusive to male chickens, roosters are said to always have an eye out for danger, ready to fight to protect their flock. Usually being top of the pecking order, roosters like to assert their dominance by fighting with other roosters to try and show who’s boss! You can read more about aggressive behaviour with cockerels in our previous post. As with the other physical differences pointed out, how aggressive your chickens are can also depend on their breed. Certain breeds such as the Asil, Modern Game, and Old English Game for example, all rank top of the list of some of the least friendly chicken breeds!

From What Age Can You Tell The Difference Between a Hen and a Rooster?

A mother hen looking after her chicks

We have now established what the main physical and behavioral differences are between the two, but at which age can we start to tell a cockerel from a hen?

Week 1

For the vast majority of chicken breeds, you will not able to tell their sex from when they have been hatched or even during the first week. The exception to this rule is with auto-sex breeds, who can be sexed just by looking at their coloring within their very first few days. An example of this is the Purebred Cuckoo Maran breed, whereby male chicks usually are an overall lighter color than females and have a larger and paler spot on their heads than females do.

Similarly, sex links are also an exception. Sex links however, are crossbred chickens as opposed to pure bred auto-sex breeds. In this circumstance, a breeder will mix one specific chicken breed with another to create chicks that will hatch as different colors, based on their sex. This again, will mean that it is possible to be able to tell a rooster from a hen at a very early point i.e. from when they hatch. An example of this is the Red Sex Link, a cross between the Rhode Island Red male with either a White Plymouth Rock, Delaware, Rhode Island White, or Silver Laced Wyandotte female, which produce red hens and white roosters.

Week 7-9

Between weeks 5 and 8 in particular, is when chicks start to develop features that will make it easier for you to determine their sex. At this point you’ll notice changes in their physical appearance, such as with their combs. As we mentioned, male chickens generally have a redder comb, and it is at this stage between weeks 5 and 8 where this will begin to show. This being said, at this stage this is not always an entirely accurate method of sexing.

Another physical difference between these weeks is the legs of male chicks will likely start looking chunkier than females’.

When looking at rooster vs hen behavior between these weeks, you may also notice that male chicks will begin ‘strutting’ i.e. standing up straight, walking in an exaggerated manner, and sticking their chest out.

Week 10-15

At this point, your chicks will be well into their ‘teenage’ stage, where they’ll be going through some big developmental changes. If your chicks have now reached 12 weeks, they’ll also be ready to move into their Eglu Go coop. It will be helpful to go over the Omlet guide on common mistakes that are often made when it comes to raising chicks of this age.

In regard to the differences between male and female chicks during these pivotal weeks, it is around week 12 when the pointy hackle feathers (adult neck feathers) will really begin to stand out on roosters. The same goes for the growth of sickle feathers for male chicks, which even at full maturity, hens do not have.

Whilst crowing can begin at a slightly earlier stage, it is usually around the 12 week mark as well when a chicken first does so. Crowing is a behavior that is generally more associated with male chickens, however as pointed out, this can occasionally happen for hens too.

Additionally, you may notice your female chick beginning to squat. Although most hens will not begin laying until the next coming weeks, this behavior indicates that she could be getting ready to lay soon, but not just yet!

Week 16-20

Now that we’re at weeks 16 to 20 your chickens will be maturing into adulthood! If you have struggled to establish the sex of your chicken by this point, you’ll definitely know, should your chicken start laying eggs between these weeks. This is the most failproof way of determining the sex of your chicken!

Can Hens Turn Into Roosters?

A cockerel stood outside on a wooden platformAs bizarre as this question may sound, there have been a number of documented cases of chicken keepers claiming that their chickens have changed sex! From the offset, the answer to this question is no – hens most definitely cannot genetically turn into cockerels, nor can cockerels turn into hens.

However, what can occur in very rare circumstances, is when a hen takes on the characteristics of a cockerel as a result of complications with her ovaries. Hens are born with two ovaries – the left organ is responsible for producing eggs and estrogen, whilst the right, on the other hand, becomes dormant when a chick is hatched. Should the female chicken encounter a medical issue such as an ovarian cyst, testosterone levels will begin to rise, and the left ovary can shrink, which causes the development of an avo-testis. At this point, your hen will stop laying eggs and can even take on the appearance of a male chicken such as a more established comb and wattle!


So, now you know all about the differences between a cockerel and a hen! If you’re new to chicken keeping altogether, or you’re considering incubating some of your chicken’s eggs take a look at  Incubation and rearing equipment.

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The Ultimate Gift Guide for Chickens and Chicken Keepers

You’ve come to the right place if you’re getting a gift for the chicken keeper in your life! The Omlet shop is, as always, packed with practical and fun things for all hens and their owners. Make the most of our Black Friday Sale by stocking up on some of the great offers in good time before the holidays. 

Hentertainment 

One of the greatest gifts you can give your chickens this winter is some fun and entertainment! We have got plenty of engaging hentertainment that will have your hens clucking with excitement. 

The Poppy and Pendant Peck Toys release feed, treats or grit as your chickens go in for a peck, so will add both stimulation and snacks in times when there are not as many bugs to dig out of the flower beds. 

Or why not make your chicken run more of a play park with the amazing Chicken Swing? Perching comes natural to hens, and adding an element of movement will add some extra excitement to their day. 

autdoor chicken gift guide

Autodoor

Omlet’s Automatic Chicken Coop Door makes life for chicken keepers just that little bit easier, and will be perfect for tech lovers! The door can be programmed to open and close automatically at certain times of day, or chosen levels of daylight, so that the chickens will be safely tucked in as soon as the sun goes down, even if their owners are still at work. The Autodoor can also be fitted to any wooden coop or run, so makes a great gift for all proud (but busy) chicken owners. 

Chicken Fencing

Whether you want to stop your chickens from wandering out on the road or keep them out of your garden, the Omlet Chicken Fencing is a great addition to any backyard chicken keeper’s setup. The high fencing come with poles that you just push into the lawn, so you can move or adjust the flock’s roaming space at any time. 

The fencing has reflective guy ropes to make them easier to spot when you go to put your hens to bed after work, and the gate is super quick to maneuver for easy access.

Egg Skelter

Lucky chicken keepers will have more eggs than they can eat in a day, so will need a way of storing them. Egg skelters allow you to keep your hens’ beautiful eggs on display in the kitchen, and will make it easy to know in which order to crack them open, as new eggs can simply be added at the top as they come in fresh from the coop.  

egg skelter chicken christmas gift

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Soufflé Saved My Sanity During Lockdown

Hattie Garlick is a writer and first-time chicken keeper who welcomed two Pekin Bantams into her Norfolk home during the third lockdown. How would they fit into a family life that already included two children, one cat, a goldfish, and a dog of very little brain? Read on to find out…

therapy chickens in green chicken coop

It’s quite likely that, over the past twelve months, you discovered the stress-relieving properties of baking. Across the developed world, Google searches for bread recipes hit an all-time high. While everyone else was finding solace in sourdough, though, my sanity was being saved by soufflé.

Soufflé is a chicken. She and her sister, Einstein, arrived in our garden in the middle of the third lockdown. The children wanted more pets, I drew the line at parrots, and my husband and I thought that hens might at least earn their keep in fresh eggs. That, really, was the extent of their appeal on the day we collected them from a local smallholding. I did not envision then saving me a fortune in therapy bills too.

Yet as the days stretched on, I found myself drawn out of the house, into the garden and standing beside their run. There was, I realized, something gently mesmeric about their movements.

Carri Westgarth, senior lecturer in human-animal interaction at the University of Liverpool, has conducted research to show that watching a dog run is a significant stress reliever. Their unbridled joy rubs off. Watching a chicken potter and peck about is a lot less dramatic. It seems to soften, not sharpen, my emotional state. And during the pandemic, as my nerves frayed and worries jangled, that soft-focus was exactly what I needed.

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised at the girls’ therapeutic influence. Chickens are now widely used as therapy animals in the US and Canada. Here in the UK, a charity called Henpower has introduced hen keeping into more than 40 care homes. A year-long study by Northumbria University found it measurably improved the health and wellbeing of residents while reducing depression and loneliness.

A couple of months after Soufflé and Einstein moved in, I can absolutely understand why. While my daughter thinks they are unimaginably cute, it is harder to anthropomorphize a chicken than a dog or cat. They belong to a whole different animal group to us, after all. They are like the ultimate no-strings relationship: providing the comfort of company without any emotional baggage. Soufflé and Einstein are totally oblivious to my worries about Brexit and R-rates, which are after all totally irrelevant to them. They couldn’t give a cluck.

They need me just enough to propel me into putting my boots on and stomping into the fresh air, first thing in the morning, to open the door of their Eglu Cube. This, I’ve discovered gives me a far more positive perspective on the day than my old lockdown routine – slumping in front of the laptop, in pajamas, till lunch. Beyond that, they really couldn’t care much whether they see me or not. And after months spent listening to the word “muuuuuuuuuuum” bouncing off the walls around the clock, I could not be more thankful to them for this.

We were however, right about one thing when we first decided to bring hens into our home. Fresh eggs in the morning are a real boon at breakfast time. They’re also, however, a great mood-booster in febrile times. It just feels good to reach into the hay and pull out a tiny, tangible, warm-to-the-touch miracle.

lockdown hens on chicken run

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Happy Halloween – 20% Off Haunting Hentertainment

Treat your hens to their very own broomstick this Halloween! 🧹

Get 20% off Haunting Hentertainment including Chicken Perches, Peck Toys and more with discount code CHICKORTREAT.


Terms and conditions
20% off is valid from 10/28/21 until midnight on 10/31/21. 20% off applies to The Chicken Swing, Omlet Chicken Perches 1m and 2m, Pendant and Poppy Peck Toys, and Caddi Treat Holders only. Excludes twin packs, and all other chicken accessories. Offer is limited to 2 of each product per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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8 Tips for Making Your Pets’ Run More Fun This Fall

It’s that time of year again when we say goodbye to summer and welcome in the cooler, shorter days of Autumn. For many pet owners, Summer is a great opportunity to spend quality time with our animals, playing outdoors and enjoying the warmer weather. However, the change in season doesn’t have to mean that the fun has to stop!

It’s fundamental that you continue to keep your pets exercised throughout the year, and animal runs are great for this, giving your furry friends the freedom to roam within a safe and confined environment. Omlet supply a range of runs for chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs, which are all predator resistant, so you shouldn’t have any concerns about safety in their run this Fall. Although runs are fantastic for providing your animals with more space, adding a few extras over the next coming months can help to keep both you and your pet/s entertained. Here are our top tips on what you can do to make your runs more fun this Autumn.

For Guinea Pig and Rabbit Runs

Set Up a Vegetable Hunt

Cavies and rabbits love their fresh veg, so why not make a game out of it! You can try hiding their favorite pieces of veggies around the run and have them go off to find it. This game will not only be an opportunity for you to spend some quality time outside with your pet, but they get to join in with the Halloween festivities of a scavenger hunt this autumn as well!

Get a Play Tunnel

Play tunnels can be attached to your guinea pig or rabbit’s run to give them a new way to exercise, designed with the natural behavior of these two animals in mind. In the wild, both guinea pigs and rabbits would live in burrows, a hole which they dig to take temporary refuge underground. Watch as your piggy or rabbit has fun bouncing around, in and out of their tunnel.

Use a Shelter

Shelters can be a great addition to your run this season. The Omlet Zippi Shelters for rabbits and guinea pigs are weatherproof, meaning that your pet will be protected from the elements of wind and rain. Both species have a natural desire to seek a hiding space in a hole, so you can be assured that they are having fun, while feeling safe. Furthermore, the Omlet play tunnels have connector rings, which mean these can easily be attached to the Zippi Shelters, creating a fun maze for your furry friends!

Guinea Pig and Rabbit Toys

Who said toys were just for cats and dogs? Try giving a new toy to your small animal, which will help to bust their boredom this season. Toys for guinea pigs and rabbits can simply be hung up in their run and will keep them active, engaged, and curious.

For Chicken Runs

Chicken Toys

Chickens can have toys too! A bored chicken can lead to flock bullying, so at this time of year it’s even more important to keep your chickens entertained. Naturally, as the weather drops, these animals get increasingly restless, with less grass and weeds for them to forage on, as they enjoyed over summer. A chicken peck toy is one option to keep your flock happy, also providing them with mental stimulation.

Make Use of Your Autumn Leaves

The fallen leaves of autumn in your garden or backyard may not mean anything to us but they can actually be a great source of entertainment for your chickens. Build up a pile of crisp fall leaves in your chickens’ run, and watch them have endless hours of fun pecking. You can even add some sunflower seeds to your pile to have your flock hunt for.

Provide Your Chickens With a Pumpkin For Their Run

It wouldn’t be Fall without pumpkins! You can place half a pumpkin in your chickens’ run for them to have as a special treat. Your flock will have no problems pecking at the pumpkin raw, so there’s no need for any cooking; simply slice the top of the pumpkin off and then in half, to place outside in their run. Something to be cautious of here however, is to make sure that you remove any pumpkin remains from the run once finished to avoid any unwanted visitors such as rodents at night.

Get a Chicken Swing

A chicken swing is another way to make your chickens’ run more fun. The Omlet Chicken Swing will have your chicken in their element, as they get to grips with their new toy. Not only will this run accessory provide them with plenty of entertainment, you’ll have just as much fun watching them hop on and off and swing back and forth.

Hopefully after a bit of guidance, you’ll have a few new ideas on how you can make your pets’ run more enjoyable this season! As the end of the season brings colder weather, don’t forget to have a read of the Omlet guides on keeping your guinea pigs, rabbits, and chickens safe and warm when they’re outdoors.

 

 

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Asparagus, Leek and Pea Frittata

asparagus pea and leek frittata in pan

Elise Pulbrook is an Australian chef, baker, Australian Masterchef 2021 semi finalist and, as of recently, – chicken keeper! She’s sharing one of her favorite ways of using those lovely fresh eggs on the Omlet blog, a scrumptious asparagus, leek and pea frittata!


My favorite egg recipe of all time is my Zia Maria’s asparagus frittata. I’ve changed her recipe slightly, adding leek and peas. Sometimes Zia Maria adds chopped boiled potato. At the start of Spring, there has never been a shortage of asparagus in my family. Koo Wee Rup is Victoria’s asparagus country and my large Italian family has roots there. Zio Frank would bring at least one large polystyrene box of asparagus down to Melbourne every year for his sisters to divide amongst themselves.

This is a recipe I make as soon as sweet stems of asparagus come into season. To make this with my own chicken’s eggs is deeply satisfying! This is a thin frittata that is flourless and it is often referred to as an omelet within my family.

Ingredients:

  • 200g chopped leek
  • 200g chopped asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 200g baby peas
  • 10g chopped garlic, approximately 2 cloves
  • 230g whisked egg, approximately 4 large eggs
  • 30g fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 -3 pinches of salt, or to taste (every salt is slightly different in its saltiness, know your salt!)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste (some chilli flakes are hotter than others!)
  • 1-2 pinches dried oregano or zaatar
  • 40g grated pecorino cheese, or enough to cover the surface of your omelet
  • Light olive oil for frying (at least 100ml, remember to be generous with your olive oil and cook like an Italian!)

Method:

1 – Heat a large well-seasoned cast iron pan or non stick fry pan. If using a 30cm fry pan, the quantities in the ingredient list will allow you to make two omelets. I have used a 35cm cast iron skillet for the frittata pictured. A rule of thumb for the success of many recipes is to choose the appropriate pan for the task at hand.

2 – Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to your pan and begin to sweat your leek over a medium heat. Add two pinches of salt to help extract moisture from your leek and accelerate its cooking time. When your leek has softened and tastes sweet, add your garlic. Allow the garlic to soften and perfume the oil. Next, add your asparagus. Allow the asparagus to fry by slightly increasing the heat of your pan and allowing it to sizzle. Stir occasionally, avoiding any browning. We are aiming for a tender ‘just cooked’ asparagus with a slight crunch and bright sweetness. Add the peas and allow them to blister into radiant green jewels. The peas will only need a moment or two. If using frozen peas, you’re essentially just defrosting them in the pan. Taste the vegetables and, if they are all beautifully tender, remove them from the heat and into a large bowl.

ingredients for a pea and leek frittata

3 – Mix the vegetables with the whisked egg, parsley, chilli flakes, a pinch of oregano and a pinch of salt.

4 – Wipe out your pan, bring to a medium-high heat and then add a generous 5mm layer of olive oil. Don’t allow your oil to smoke but do allow it to be hot enough for your frittata to sizzle once poured into the pan. Once you do pour your frittata mixture into the pan, flatten it out quickly using a spatula, pushing the mixture completely and evenly cover the surface area of your pan. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and the remainder of your oregano.

5 – Turn on the grill function of your oven to preheat while you are waiting for the edges of your frittata to start to brown. Check the bottom of your frittata by using a spatula to peek underneath. Once it has begun to brown, transfer the pan to the oven and leave to grill until the cheese on top has melted and begun to brown. Remove from the grill.

6 – Serve cut into squares as part of an antipasti selection or wedged between buttered sliced bread for lunch. Enjoy!

closeup of finished asparagus frittata

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World Egg Day – 9 Facts About Eggs

The Omlet red egg ramp

Established in 1996, World Egg Day falls on the second Friday in October, meaning that this year we get to celebrate on the 8th of the month. If it’s your first time celebrating, take a look at these recipes for some inspiration on how you can make some protein-packed meals with your eggs, or how about partaking in local events or competitions like an egg and spoon race.

So, with World Egg Day just round the corner, it wouldn’t be right for us at Omlet to miss out on the opportunity to share some fascinating facts!

You Can Predict a Hen’s Egg Color by Looking in Their Earlobes

You can usually tell if a chicken will lay brown eggs if they have red earlobes. Hens who will lay white eggs will probably have white earlobes. There are, of course, some exceptions to this but test it for yourself by taking a look at your chickens!

Hens Turn Their Eggs Nearly 50 Times a Day

A hen will turn their eggs nearly 50 times in one day when waiting for them to hatch. This is so that they can keep the embryo positioned properly, preventing the yolk from sticking to the side.

You Can Find Out Whether an Egg is Raw or Hard-Boiled by Spinning it

You can try this out as a fun activity by boiling some eggs and leaving others raw to test your friends and family. If your egg spins easily, this means that it has been hard-boiled. However, if it wobbles, it is raw. The science behind this is that a hard-boiled egg will spin easily because its center of gravity is fixed, whereas with a raw egg the center of gravity changes, as the liquid inside the egg moves around.

A chicken in an Eglu coop laying a blue eggSome Chickens Produce Blue and Pink Eggs!

If you thought chickens only laid brown and white eggs, you were wrong! Who said that Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham was just a fictional story?! Several chicken breeds such as the Araucanian are known to naturally lay blue, green, and pink eggs!

The Furthest Distance That an Egg Has Been Thrown and Caught is 98.51m

There are a number of world records when it comes to eggs. In 1978 Johnny Dell Foley threw a hen’s egg a very impressive 98.51m to Keith Thomas in Texas, USA, without breaking it. That’s nearly the distance of a 100m sprint!

The Most Omelets Made in 30 Minutes is 427!

Here’s another egg related world record for you. In 1990, Howard Helmer made a whopping 427 two-egg omelets in the short space of 30 minutes! The record still hasn’t been beaten to this day.

Eggs Are One Food That Naturally Contain Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is key to the functionality of our bodies, playing a key role in supporting our immune systems. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin d, however egg yolks are an exception here, being a great source of it.

The Average Person Consumes 173 Eggs a Year

This means that around the world, approximately 1.2 trillion eggs are produced for eating every year. A bonus fact: in Chinese households, the average person eats roughly 300 eggs per year. That’s a whole lot of eggs!

It Takes a Hen Between 24 and 26 Hours to Produce One Egg

Hens tend to take between 24 and 26 hours to produce and lay one egg, around 20 of these being just to form the shell. Following this, it takes a further 15 to 30 minutes for the process to start all over again.


With 2021 being the 25th anniversary of the event, you can really go all out this year, with celebrations happening around the world. Hopefully these fun facts will have given you some inspiration to maybe take on a world record yourself!

 

 

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Keep Your Pets’ Run Tidy and Hygienic With 50% Off Caddi Treat Holders

Photo of 2 Caddi Treat Holders

Ever cleaned your pets’ run and found old bits of moldy cabbage or soggy feed that is nearly impossible to pick out of the grass? There is an easy way of keeping your pets’ treats fresh for longer, while also improving run cleanliness AND keeping your animals entertained!

The Caddi can be hung at any height from all pet runs, trees or other structures in your backyard or garden. It’s super easy to fill with whatever you want to give your pets, be it bits of fruit, or fresh hay.

At the moment you will get 50% off Caddi Treat Holders for chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs when you sign up to the Omlet newsletter. Take this opportunity to make your pets’ run more fun and more hygienic than ever before!


4 reasons Caddi will improve your pets’ run:

  • Improves run cleanliness

All pets will be happier if their living quarters are tidy and clean, but it’s also important for their health that both their coop or hutch and run are kept hygienic. Moldy food left on the damp ground can make a chicken, rabbit or guinea pig very ill, so having a Caddi to keep it in will make it much easier for you to spot anything that’s gone off, and to remove it in a second.

  • Reduces food waste

Food, treats or hay that is left on the ground on the run will go off very quickly, especially at this time of year when temperatures can vary dramatically between day and night and there is likely to be more rainy days. With the Caddi, the treats you leave your pets will keep fresher for longer as they won’t come into contact with the wet ground. They will also be kept dryer thanks to the waterproof top.

  • Keeps pests away

The end of summer means that there will be less food available for wild animals like rodents and small birds, and they are likely to approach your garden and your pets’ home in search for tasty morsels. By putting feed, hay or vegetables in the Caddi rather than scattering on the ground, you are making things more difficult for uninvited visitors!

  • Yummier tasting treats

As the treats, veg or hay you are giving your pets are kept contained in one place and won’t get stepped on by muddy feet, they will be crunchier, cleaner and better tasting. As the swinging motion of the Caddi offers stimulation and entertainment, your pets will truly enjoy snack time!


A GIF of a guinea pig eating greens from a Caddi Treat Holder

Buy now and get 50% off when you sign up for the Omlet newsletter!

Terms and conditions:
This promotion is only valid from 09/28/21 – midnight on 10/03/21. Once you have entered your email address on the website you will receive a discount code that can be used at checkout. By entering your email you agree to receive the Omlet Newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any point. This offer is available on single Caddi Treat Holders only. The offer does not apply to Twin Packs or Twin Pack with Peck Toys. Excludes all other chicken accessories. Offer is limited to 2 Caddis per household. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.

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Which of My Hens is Laying?

It’s often hard to tell if a hen is laying. Hens do not produce the same number of eggs each week throughout the year, and there may be health- and environment-related changes to egg production, too.

It’s useful to know when a hen stops laying, as you can then give her a quick health check to identify the cause of the interruption. But how do you tell which chicken is not laying eggs? In a coop of six hens, in which the daily average number of eggs is five, it’s not immediately obvious which hens are laying.

which chicken is laying brown hen

Seven signs that a hen has stopped laying

1. Age. This is the most obvious cause of a drop in egg production. Over her egg-laying years, a hen’s production will tail off. This is natural, and it does not mean the chicken has reached the end of its usefulness. All hens play a part in the social order of a coup, and a bird reaching the end of its egg-laying life will still be as feisty, active and lovable as the younger birds – and she’ll still lay the occasional egg.

2. Molting. This occurs every year once a hen is 18 months old (although younger birds may shed feathers, too). The signs are very clear – lots of feathers lying in the coop, and bare patches appearing on the hen. During this time, chickens need to produce lots of new feathers, which is a physically demanding process. Consequently, egg-laying is reduced, and sometimes there will be several days without an egg. The molt tends to occur in the autumn, but it depends on when the hen first started laying. Molting takes 8 to 12 weeks, occasionally longer.

3. Vent. A dry vent – the hole through which the hen lays her eggs – is a sign of no production. In a hen that is still laying, the vent will be moist.

4. Abdomen. If the area below the breast bone is hard, it means the hen is not laying eggs.

5. Comb and wattles. A healthy laying hen tends to have bright red comb and wattles. These become duller when she is about to lay, but turn bright red again once she has laid the egg. If the comb and wattles are pale or dull looking all the time, it could be a sign of illness.

6. The food dye test. If you put a small dab of food coloring on a hen’s vent, the color will be transferred to the egg. The color that fails to appear tells you who the non-layer is. This is only practical in smaller flocks, though, given the limited palette of food colorings…

7. No eggs. This isn’t as silly as it sounds! If you only have a few hens, and they are different breeds, you will often come to recognize which eggs are produced by which hen. In this case, the sudden disappearance of one particular egg-type will tell you who’s not laying.

Five reasons why hens stop laying eggs

1. Temperature and sunlight. Seasonal factors play a part in egg production. As the daylight hours lessen in autumn and winter, hens tend to lay fewer eggs. In the depths of winter, the low temperature becomes the cause, as a hen needs all her energy to produce body heat. With her resources diverted to this essential function, egg-laying is put on hold.

2. Stress. Any form of stress will tend to interrupt or stop egg production. Stress can be brought on by several things, including parasites, bullying, injuries and fear (of noisy dogs, for example).

3. Diet. Poor diet can impact egg production, too. If a hen is laying, she needs all the essential nutrients – not just calcium – to produce eggs. Top-quality layer’s pellets will contain everything the hen needs. A hen that fills up on treats before filling up on pellets may become malnourished and stop laying. It’s a good idea to let the chickens feed on their pellets first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and only offer corn and treats in the middle of the day.

4. Broodiness. A broody hen – that is, a hen who has decided to sit on her eggs in an attempt to hatch them – will stop laying. There are several ways of discouraging broodiness, but some hen breeds are more prone to it than others. If all attempts to dissuade her from leaving the nesting box, you have the consolation that after 21 days – the time it would take for a fertilized chicken egg to hatch – the hen’s self-inflicted ordeal will be over and she will resume normal life – including egg-laying.

5. Change of routine. If you move the hen house or introduce new birds to the flock, or if one of the hens dies, the birds’ routine and pecking order will be interrupted. This often causes them to stop laying for a short time, until their social lives settle down again.

Four ways to encouraging layingtell which hen is laying chickens perching

1. Comfy coop. The first thing to do is to make sure the hens’ environment is adequately equipped and comfortable. Check for red mites, as an infestation of these nocturnal parasites can stop egg production. Reduce drafts and make sure there is no bullying going on – often a sign of an overcrowded hen house.

2. Light. Some chicken keepers install lights in the coop to encourage laying in the colder months of the year. However, bear in mind that a chicken can only lay a finite number of eggs in its lifetime. If she’s naturally programmed to lay 1,000 eggs, encouraging her to lay regularly throughout the winter will simply reduce her laying life.

3. Eggs. If an apparently healthy hen isn’t laying, she can be encouraged by leaving eggs in the nesting box, or placing rubber ones, or even golf balls, in the spot where she is supposed to lay. The sight and feel of these will encourage her laying instincts.

4. Reduce stress. Discourage dogs from disturbing the hens, and make your run and coop are as predator-proof as possible. Equally important, make sure the run isn’t overcrowded, and provide enough roosting space in the coop for all the hens to rest comfortably.

Disappearing eggs

If your hens are free-ranging, they will sometimes lay an egg in a quiet corner of the backyard. This can become habit-forming, and if she’s doing it in secret, you may reach the incorrect conclusion that the hen isn’t laying.

A healthy hen who does not appear to be laying may be the victim of egg sabotage. A predator, a human thief or an egg-eating chicken might be removing the evidence of her labors. The best way of preventing this is to encourage your hen back to the nest box for laying. In crowded coops, a hen will sometimes seek an alternative laying place if the boxes are all full when she feels the urge to lay.

As a hen ages, she will produce fewer eggs. If you are uncertain of the age of your chickens, there is a simple test you can conduct that might sometimes give you a clue. Place your hand gently on a hen’s back. If she immediately squats down, it means she is still fertile and therefore producing eggs. Hens squat when they are mating, and it is an automatic response.


Although egg production drops as a hen ages, it will often continue throughout her life. The occasional egg from an old hen always reminds you what a wonderful friend she’s been throughout your long time together!

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Why Have My Chickens Stopped Going into the Coop at Night?

Chickens in the Omlet Eglu chicken coop at night

Your chickens’ coop should be a space for your flock to eat, drink, lay eggs, and sleep. It should also be a place for your chickens to feel safe and be protected from the outside elements or any danger. However, sometimes chickens may suddenly decide that they do not want to go into their coop at night, which can be for a number of reasons. Here are some explanations as to why this could be happening.

A Broody Hen

Hens can get broody, regardless of if you have a rooster. Although many hens will decide to stay in the nest of their coop so that they can sit on their eggs, others like to search for a quiet space away from the coop, which can mean remaining outside the coop all night.

Moving a broody hen can be highly stressful for them, so should you decide that it’s best to move your hen inside the coop, due to safety concerns, you need to take great care when doing so. One way to start is by collecting your hen’s eggs regularly (twice a day). Be sure to wear leather gloves when doing so, as a broody hen is likely to be aggressive around you as they are very protective of their eggs. You’ll also want to reduce the light supply when you move her, as the moving process situation will be less traumatic in the dark.

Predators

Predators such as foxes, cats, rats, and badgers could be one reason as to why your chickens have stopped going inside the coop at night. These animals will spook your flock, with smaller predators such as badgers having the potential to gain access inside the coop by climbing over the fencing, or squeezing through small openings in the coop’s wiring.

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to deter these animals and have your chickens back in their coop every night. One option is to get a motion sensitive light installed, which will scare off any unwanted guests. Alternatively, take a look at the Omlet chicken coop range. All of the Omlet coops are predator resistant, which will reassure you that your chickens will be safe from any night time visitors. With anti-tunnel skirts that lie flat on the ground, and heavy duty steel weld mesh, these features will help to prevent animals from digging in. You can also purchase the Omlet automatic coop door which shuts your chickens away in their coop at night to keep your flock secure, enclosing them until the time you set for the door to open in the morning.

An Overcrowded Coop

Chickens need their own personal space, hence why many chickens are also kept free range. Not only is overcrowding an unpleasant experience for chickens, causing them to avoid the coop at night, it can also lead to further complications such as the build up of ammonia and an increase in disease. The solution? The more space the better! For size reference, the Omlet Large Eglu Cube chicken coop can comfortably accommodate six large hens or up to ten bantams.

Tensions Amongst Your Chickens

A chicken sticking its head out of the Omlet Eglu chicken coopUnfortunately, bullying amongst chickens happens, and isn’t actually too uncommon of a problem. Chickens naturally create a pecking order, whereby the flock will establish themselves in a social hierarchy of strongest to weakest chicken. However, if aggressive behavior continues after the head rooster, or the dominant hen in their absence, has found their way to the top of the ladder, you may be dealing with a bully. Common signs are missing feathers from a chicken’s back, unusual weight loss, reduced egg production, or blood from where the victim has been pecked, all of which could lead to a chicken/s refusing to go into their coop at night.

To stop the bullying, and therefore get your chickens back in their coop at night, first try to establish the cause. Common reasons for bullying can be an injured or ill bird, having a large flock, or your chickens being bored. However, should the bullying continue after attempting to resolve what you believe to be the cause of conflict, you can purchase anti-pecking spray, which will discourage feather pecking. Alternatively, separate the bully from the flock. Isolating the bully for a week may mean that they lose their dominant position in the hierarchy once they are reintroduced.

Mites and Parasites in the Coop

Pests are a very common cause for chickens to have stopped going to their coop at night. Red mite in particular is a likely culprit, a parasitic mite that lives inside chicken housing and lays eggs in cracks near nests. They can make your chickens restless at night, as they live inside chicken coops and crawl onto the chickens to feed on their blood as they sleep. Only active during warmer weather, red mites are also more likely to strike wooden coops.

Red mites are not the easiest thing to get rid of, however, one solution is to purchase red mite treatment, which works by immobilizing pests with its sticky consistency. Rest assured, it’s also completely safe to use in the chicken feeding area, so you do not have to have any concerns about your flock digesting the product.


Luckily, chickens are creatures of habit, so once you’ve identified the cause, you should be able to get your flock back into the coop at night in no time!

 

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