Despite all my planning for the types of chicken breeds I wanted, all that flew out the window when a friend asked us to help re-home some battery hens. Being a few days before Christmas the organisers were expecting a poor turnout of re-homers, said friend persuaded us we can always add those planned pure breed birds to our flock later. We will be setting off for south Lincolnshire on Saturday armed with a poultry crate and hoping the new girls aren't quite as poorly looking as some of the photos we have seen.......................
Picture courtesy RSPCA Cornwall
We have spent the last week checking the coop is weatherproof, it was for the most part but the nest box flap was almost rotten, hubby quickly replaced it and I set to work filling the house with bedding, and lots of it as a cold first night here is predicted although the organiser explained this wasn't really a huge problem as cold weather stimulates feather growth. We also disinfected the coop and scrubbed all the feeders and drinkers, feed has been bought and I checked my hen first aid kit and replaced any missing items. My kit comprises of wormer, mite powder, Vaseline, anti pecking spray, purple gentian spray, cider vinegar and garlic granules I also keep a pair of nail clippers in my kit for trimming any really long claws.
Feed is the Allen and Page Crumb for ex-batts, I use Allen and Paige as they use no GM products in their feed, Organic would be better but it carries a 50% premium which is just a step too far for my budget. The girls will have crumb as it is what they are used to but they will get an afternoon treat of corn, this will be used to lure them in to the run at bedtime and digesting it at night helps keep them warm. Water is rainwater with a tonic for ex batts added, this will be replace later with the cider vinegar which apparently acidulates their gut which can help prevent any internal parasites surviving. As these hens will be truly free range and have access to slugs and snails etc worm prevention is important my programme is Flubenvet twice a year and Verm-X monthly. Worms in hens is life threatening and must be taken seriously, both these products can be used without having to stop eating the eggs which is a bonus.
The girls will need to be spoiled a little in the first few weeks, being put to bed and kept confined to the covered run as well kept in quiet surroundings. These birds have not been allowed to behave like chickens, confined to a mesh cage in close quarters with their sisters no dust baths no perches and kept in artificially lit warehouses to stimulate egg production. It will take a while but they will soon learn how to do all of this and more, I will keep you up to date with their progress.