Chicken Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

In this section we answer frequently asked questions. If you have a question don’t  hesitate to contact us and we will answer your question on the website.

 

 

 

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV): What is it? Why is it used and what for?

Bare Patches? Why?

Broodiness: Stopping It

Chicks: Avoid Cat eating Them

Cockerel: Do I need One

Cockerel: Do hens need one to lay?

Egg Eating: Why? How to stop it

Feather Eating: Why?

Fertilization: How does it work?

Mash or Pellet?

Lay: How Often?

Losing Feathers: What is wrong?  Moulting

POL: Point of Lay not laid yet

Help! My chickens are moulting and one hen is eating the feathers!

This is normal behaviour, after all, feathers are rich in protein and she is only recycling the protein! It is possible that she could choke on a large feather, so if you are worried you can remove the large feathers, but everything should be okay.

Should I get a cockerel?

They are only necessary if you want to breed. If you do decide to get one, take into account that some breeds can be quite noisy.

Help! My chickens have started to eat their own eggs!

Ensure that they have oyster shell grit, layers pellets, water and perhaps Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)  to ensure they get necessary nutrients especially calcium if they dont get enough  they sometimes eat their eggs. Put up good perches so they dont lie on their eggs. If one breaks in the nestbox they cant resist eating it, a tasty, nutritious treat. You can crack an egg and fill it with mustard or chilli or something foul and non toxic. This sometimes helps, but if it makes no difference, you can make or by roll away nestboxes which have a sloping bottom and the eggs roll down a crack into a compartment below where soft material stops it from cracking.

I keep a few hens with a cockerel and they seem to be perfectly healthy but the hens have bare patches on their neck  and backs. Can you help?

It sounds as though you have an active cockerel. This means that he mates the hens often, sometimes so much so that the feathers are pulled out where his beak and claws grasp the hen.
You can run up to ten hens with a very active cockerel so if you have enough space you could run a few more hens with him. If not you can give the hens a period of time to recover by moving the cockerel to a separate run.

Help! My hens have stopped laying (autumn time) and are losing most of the feathers. What could be wrong?

Considering that it is autumn and that the hens have stopped laying, it sounds as though they are moulting. They have stopped laying because they need all energy and nutrients to renew their plumage. They are removing old, worn feathers, and replacing them with new, warm ones for winter. Keep feeding layers pellet s and once they have renewed their plumage, laying should commence, unless their breed rests throughout winter.

Is a cockerel necessary for hens to lay eggs?

NO! A cockerel is only necessary to fertilize them.


How are eggs fertilized?

The cockerel grasps the hen on the neck and they join clocae (sex opening in the vent) and the cockerels sperm travels toward the hens ovaries. The sperm settles inside the yolk-to-be of a forming egg and will grow into a chick if the hen sits on the egg.


I bought chickens which are meant to be point of lay, but they have not laid yet.

No person can predict with accuracy when a hen will lay. The age where they are considered point of lay is usually at five or six months of age (20-30 weeks).

Red combs that are leaning slightly, brilliantly bright red wattles, wide pubic bones and a slightly moist vent are all signs that they will lay soon.

How do I protect my young chicks from getting eaten by the neighbours cat?

We keep all our chicks in a portable wire run with until they are large enough. You can keep yours in a run, but it should be a portable one so that they can be moved to fresh grass regularly.

 

How often do chickens lay?

Birds naturally lay a clutch of eggs in the springtime and brood them, and dont lay anymore for the rest of the year. Through selective breeding and crossing, humans produced a creature which can lay as many as 350 eggs a year, or as little as 80. This varies by breed, lifestyle, hygiene and management. the modern hybrid is said to be the best egg layer, and is used for battery egg production.  Otherwise people keep them as backyard hens, but some people prefer the traditional, but comparatively rare breeds. These can also be good egg layers, but have a more natural laying habit. Chickens never lay more than one egg a day, and have a cycle going through the egg laying season, starting the season with eggs in the morning and gradually getting later.

 

Should I feed layers mash or pellets?

It is your choice. Generally, they are nutritionally the same. It also depends on your chickens, some prefer pellets, others would rather eat mash. Mash is grains of food that requires soaking/wetting to make it more palatable and softer. This also means that it can dry up to form hard crusty lumps in the feeder, and before soaking, grains can make a big mess. It needs daily soaking, and only remains good for one day at the most.

Pellets are better in the way that they do not need soaking  tidier than mash; no scattered grains , and also leave the feeders easier to clean.

It is your choice!

What is ACV?

In this case, ACV stands for apple cider vinegar. It is antibiotic, it has bacteria that destroys other bacteria, it has vitamins, minerals and trace elements. It is acidic, making the gut acidic and preventing worms. It is a good suplement, added to drinking water at a concentration of 2%. It must be unrefined. Dont buy it from the supermarket.

Stopping broodines; my hen has gone broody. how can i stop her?

* Close her out of the house every day.

* dip her backside in cold water. She wont sit on wet feathers.

* put her in with an active cockerel and close the henhouse door. He will probably want to mate her and will spend half the day chasing her around. Be careful though, he may not accept new hens.

* put her in an uncomfortable cage. Dont forget food and water.

This page is work in progress. If you have a question, do not hesitate to contact us, we will hapily answer your question online.

If you want to ask us a question don’t hesitate to contact us.

It sounds as though you have an active cockerel. This means that he mates the hens often, sometimes so much so that the feathers are pulled out where his beak and claws grasp the hen.
You can run up to ten hens with a very active cockerel so if you have enough space you could run a few more hens with him. If not you can give the hens a period of time to recover by moving the cockerel to a separate run.