The Cottage Smallholder

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Caring for your eggs

muddy eggsIf the weather is wet or you have a chicken roosting in the nesting box, it’s important to collect your eggs every morning and evening. The shells of eggs are porous and the eggs can become tainted very quickly. In wet weather, our hens get muddy no matter how much gravel I spread in the run.

The mud sticks to their claws and legs. With the exception of Mrs Boss, who tends to turn brown in wet weather. Her companion Pekin Bantam remains a glorious sparkling white. We were initially briefly concerned. Was Mrs Boss preparing for The Great Escape? After a few years, we know better. Mrs Boss has an adverse reaction to ablutions.

When chickens venture into the nesting box to lay an egg, the mud is transferred from legs to eggs. Wash muddy eggs in cold water and if they need a rub, use a throwaway towel, such as kitchen roll. If you clean out the nesting box regularly, you can easily tackle most of this problem at source. One of our hens, Garbo, has roosted in the nesting box for years.

Droppings can be a problem. We clean the coop out once a week but when I collect the eggs each morning I remove Garbo’s droppings from the nesting box. An old trowel lives on the roof of the hen house. It’s there for scraping out the main dormitory but comes into its own in this instance. We have a bucket with a lid in the run for collecting this stuff.

If you have everything that you need for the chickens in an accessible place in the run, you will save hours over the course of a year. Chickens are easy if you put a bit of thought into their maintenance,

My next project for the chickens is to fit guttering along the roof of the coop. They seem to prefer rainwater to tap water. They would be thrilled If the rainwater was collected into a shallow trough.

If you plan to collect water from the chicken coop roof beware of open water butts. Chickens belonging to friends have drowned in them.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ali

    This sounds like bullying to me. Is there somewhere that you could put her so that she can recover in peace?

  2. I have three ex battery hens, one of them has lost most of one of its wing feathers, it is looking very sore, I have a feeling that she is being bullied, but couold it be something else.

  3. ok cool thanx for info

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pete

    This happens to Carol, our Maran. Thunder the guinea fowl male is doing it. It’s a form of domination, I think. So probably the other hens are doing this to yours.

    I don’t think that there’s anything that you can do about this. The feathers will grow back in time.

  5. one of my hens has lost feathers around the base of her tail , all of her tail feathers are intact,no other hens have lost any feathers so could i put this down to bullying or could she be doing it to herself ??

    regards pete

  6. hi sharon ,chill out dont worry…. read my post back to 19th april i think i was feeling then the way you are at the moment, as long as your hens feel safe have something to do are fed and watered they will lay

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sharon

    How old are your chickens? When did you get them? What breed(s) are your hens?

    I need thee answers before I can give you a possible solution.

    Three chickens doesn’t necessary mean three eggs a day until they finally go to that great chicken meadow in the sky.

    Some chickens just don’t lay as well as other hens. Laying breeds produce the most eggs each year but even these differ in their laying patterns.

  8. sharon king

    hello im new to keeping chickens and love mine to bits , i have 3 but only one is laying and some days she doesnt either . can you help me out i need my eggs its not nice buying them from my village store as everyone knows i have my chickens(dont look good for us chicken keepers)i feed mine layers pellets in the morning avalible all day with water and grit then at around lunch time give them mixed feed whitch i spread over the ground for them to scratch for as well as in a feeder hope you can help sharon

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pete

    This can be a problem.

    Our flock is in an enclosed run so large water fountains and feeders can keep them going for a few days. But we do have them checked once a day – a water fountain can be knocked over, a chicken might fall ill. The eggs are a reward for the checkers.

    Why not divide the chicken duties between a few friends. One does the morning for a week, another the evening. Two others could do the morning and the evening of the second week.

    Some friends of mine had a chicken house on a stalk with a fox proof ladder (HFW has some of these). It might be worth considering one of these. Although foxes seem to be taking livestock in the day as well as at night nowadays.

  10. ive now come across the enevitable situation of what to do with the hens when away on holiday, we go away camping alot for weekends , friends and relatives are happy to put the hens away and let them out for the reward of fresh eggs but im not too sure if they want to do it for 14 days ive read about ideas such as connecting larger tanks/ buckets of water up to a trough drinker with domestic ball valve to supply the water on demand and a larger feeder and a chicane to discourage foxes as the hens let them selves in and out and only issue friends with duties of collecting eggs at there leisure not commited to dawn and dusk tasks any ides or practices which you guys do
    thanx pete

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