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Keeping Chickens Newsletter

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Keeping Chickens Newsletter

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January 2009

and a cup of corn in the afternoon I do not feed them table scraps as some people do but they do have bread. They are good layers 20 plus a week, I think that is good going considering its winter, I would try to slow them down by keeping them in longer but the noise is unbearable. They are let out at 6.30 and turn in when they like, they are locked in and safe from Mr Fox. (I hope )

My Reply : At this time of year, and particularly if you are noticing any feathers around, their apparent weight loss could be a 'moult' (shedding of old feathers for new ones) - it can sometimes take several months to complete a moult and does make them look thinner simply because there are less feathers and they generally look more under the weather. Cat food is given by some as a treat because it is high in protein and so if your hens are in moult a lot of the protein from their food is going into generating the new feathers (cat food is also high in fat so is not ideal). Black oil sunflower seeds are also high in protein and can be a healthier alternative to the cat food. Another possibility for weight loss may be their free-ranging giving them a lot of exercise and because it is colder they are burning up more calories than in the summer (and there are less bugs etc. around for them to eat). Grit (to help them digest) is sometimes also an issue when chickens lose weight so it may help to leave a little grit near their feeder just in case. Hope that helps.

Sharon Wise : Gina, I remember that the 'old timers' uses a particular wood for the chicken perch, to reduce mites. I can't remember what wood it was (?????oak, birch, willow,?????). Have you any information about this? Thanks so much for the newsletter...it is excellent.

My Reply : I've looked through a few books and can't find any mention of one particular wood type. I did find this account in the 200 eggs book (written about 100 years ago) "The perches are of spruce, 2x3, with the upper end slightly rounded, and set in sockets cut out of boards. They are removable. The perches are also covered with hot tar, as are the sockets in which they are set. Red mites let my houses severely alone." I don't know how widely that was adopted it may just be the authors personal findings.


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Keeping Chickens Newsletter - Published January 2009 by www.Self-Sufficient-Life.com