Tag Archives: Animals

Baby quail falling in sewers

It wasn’t a pretty sight, so Bruce Hampson swung into action.

A large brood of quail — two adults and a host of tiny, fluffy babies — were walking near Hampson’s Wheeler Avenue home in Parksville when one of the youngsters suddenly disappeared from the line after falling through a sewer grate.

Hampson lifted the grate and saw there were four of the mini quail in distress. He saved three. One drowned.

“I don’t know how many have fallen through over the years,” said Hampson. “There should be something done — it doesn’t seem right.”

To that end, Hampson said he called the city, the SPCA and the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. He said he believes some inexpensive steel meshes of some sort could stop this from happening again.

“They are beautiful little birds,” he said. “It would be kind of nice to save them — they are so cute.”

The city doesn’t believe there’s much it can do about the situation.

“Good on him (Hampson) for taking the grate out and rescuing the little guys,” said City of Parksville spokesperson Debbie Tardiff.

The city has approximately 1,400 catch basins like the one that felled the tiny quail on Wheeler Avenue.

“Realistically, it is not manageable to run around and put screens on them,” said Tardiff.

Robin Campbell of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre also didn’t believe there’s much his organization could do about the issue.

“I’m sympathetic to the whole situation,” said Campbell. “It’s an ongoing problem, not necessarily quail but baby ducks.”

Source: http://www.pqbnews.com/news/212365351.html

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Different types of quail cover

The northern bobwhite is the native quail species found throughout Arkansas. These predominantly ground-dwelling birds are primarily found in areas that contain large amounts of edge habitat. Edges are boundaries between different habitat types or land use practices.

The home range of a quail covey can cover as little as 20 acres up to 160 acres. In that home range, quail require various types of habitat, including: escape cover, nesting habitat, brood rearing habitat and feeding and loafing areas.

So, what is a “covey headquarters” and how does it fit into the equation for great quail habitat? Covey headquarters are patches of escape cover with dense, shrubby canopy cover and little ground-level vegetation. Headquarters are used by quail on a daily basis to provide protection against severe weather and predators along with resting and loafing areas.

The percentage of the landscape designated as covey headquarters can range up to 20 percent of the total area, with the remainder set aside for the other habitat components needed by quail. Covey headquarters should be provided in clusters of not less than 30 feet by 50 feet blocks of shrubs that are not more than 150 feet apart, which will allow the quail to have quick access to their escape cover if the need arises.

Shrubs that serve well for this habitat component include: wild American and Chickasaw plum, fragrant and smooth sumac, rough-leaved dogwood, deciduous holly, cockspur hawthorn and American beautyberry. Plum thickets are an excellent example of quail convey headquarters and occur naturally on many properties across Arkansas.

Existing Thickets — Protect and manage any existing plum or other shrubby thickets on your property. These shrubby thickets can be improved to better benefit quail. If invasive grass species take over the ground-level cover, those grasses should be treated with a herbicide, timing depending on whether they are warm season or cool season. This will re-open that ground-level cover making it easier for quail to move throughout the headquarters. Also, any over-hanging or adjacent trees to the plum thicket should be removed from the area. This strategy will help reduce predation from overhead predators and also provide a clear flight path for quail to escape from ground predators.

Creating Thickets — If thickets do not occur naturally on your land, they can be established by planting seeds, seedlings or container-grown shrubs. For beautyberry, dogwood and sumac, spacing should be on a 3 foot by 6 foot spacing. Other shrubs can be planted on a 5 foot by 8 foot spacing. Just remember, thickets intended for use as covey headquarters should be established in edge habitat, those areas of transition between habitat types and in open fields lacking shrubby cover. After you have identified the best location for your headquarters, the existing vegetation should be controlled using an herbicide before you plant the shrubs. This will promote the growth of your new plantings as well as open the ground-level cover to facilitate quail movement throughout the new headquarters.

Headquarter Maintenance — Whether you have existing or newly planted covey headquarters, you should avoid damaging these when conducting other habitat management practices on your property, i.e. prescribed burning or disking. Herbicides can be used to control invasive grasses within and around your thickets; however care should be used to avoid spraying shrubs. Also, livestock should be excluded from these areas to maintain the integrity of the thicket as a quail covey headquarters.

Source: http://www.magnoliareporter.com/sports/individual_team_sports/article_3631b0d2-d4ca-11e2-999a-001a4bcf887a.html

The Happy Chick Company

The Happy Chick Company Logo

Here at the Natural Poultry Farming Guide. we never thought we would find another group of people as potty about poultry and chuffed with their chickens as we are… but then we discovered the happy chick company.

They specialise in providing a complete chick hatching experience for nurseries, schools and care/retirement homes – an educational, engaging and thrilling experience which, importantly for us, ensures all chicks are safely rehomed afterwards.

Chick Hatching at Schools

So what do schools and retirement homes in these areas have to look forward to?

The hatching experience begins early in the week when the delivery is made.  The team, who know everything there is to know about chicks, sets up the incubator which ensures temperature and humidity levels are closely controlled – all the time taking great care to explain everything. Detailed information and instructions are left behind and further questions can be answered by the advice line, available 7 days a week, 7am until 10pm.

Shortly after delivery, expectant “mother hens” will see signs that their chick is on the way. They will see the eggs wobble and may even hear cheeping coming from inside the egg.  The happy chick company suggests that you make your own clucking noises at the egg – you may feel silly but it really does work and you may just hear your chick cheep back at you.

Chick Hatching at Retirement HomesChicks can be expected to hatch by the Thursday evening.  Once dry and fluffy, the chicks are transferred to a brooder box. Again, the happy chick company provides all the equipment the chicks need, leaving students or residents free to enjoy watching the chicks and their antics.

A week later, the happy chick company team returns to collect the equipment and the chicks… Here we should issue a warning. Chickens are addictive! So it can be a very sad moment for everyone involved.  In many cases, individuals choose to adopt their chicks permanently. In these circumstances the happy chick company first ensures the ‘adoptive parent’ is suitable and then provides an aftercare support service. All chicks that are not adopted in this way are rehomed.

Coming home to roost in a roundabout way

Ditchingham chicken roundabout

A cockerel and five hens mysteriously appeared on the famous chicken roundabout some time between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

At one point hundreds of chickens are thought to have lived at the junction near Bungay in the UK, with even a board game made in their honour.

But the last of the brood disappeared from the roundabout about two years ago.

Richard Jenkin launched a campaign group last year to have chicken statues put up at the site in memory of the popular poultry.

He said: “I am so please that chicken roundabout is chicken roundabout again. Everybody is pleased to see them back.

“They just turned up on the roundabout out of the blue. Nobody knows where they have come from.”

He added that he didn’t know if someone was feeding the birds or whether they were street wise enough to avoid the traffic.

Alan Gaskin and Gordon Knowles with the game that was created about chicken roundabout in 2009.

Mr Jenkin announced the news to the Facebook group Bungay UK Support Chicken Roundabout yesterday and within an hour had received supportive comments.

It is thought that chickens lived at the roundabout near Ditchingham Maltings for more than 50 years, with Gordon Knowles, of Bungay, feeding them for 21 years.

They became a major talking point with the junction still known by many as ‘chicken roundabout’, although there was a mixture of opinions in the area as to whether their presence was good or bad.

Two years ago the remaining ones were taken away by animal charities, when Mr Knowles, who became known as “chicken man”, gave up trying to look after them.

It is thought there were more than 300 in their peak, but when he gave up there were just seven remaining, with many of them taken or injured.

Source: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/poultry_return_to_ditchingham_chicken_roundabout_1_1936726

Grow Your Own Chicken Feed

ModestoOrganicLayerPelletsIn the world where the pace of life is getting faster and faster and money tighter and tighter, being a free ranging poultry farmer is not always easy.  Buying pellet feed for our chickens is a quick feeding solution but it’s expensive and won’t necessarily give your birds all the nutrients they need.  So what’s the alternative? Why not try a more natural, home-based, self-reliant feeding methodology?  Putting it simply, we could try growing our own chicken feed.  And to do this we have to start by identifying the natural foods in our own backyard’s that we can give our birds access to. So what would a chicken eat in an ideal world?   Well, ultimately it would eat green growing plants, wild seeds, and animal foods such as earthworms and insects. In other words, it will eat live foods. Whatever the touted virtues of mass-produced, ultra-processed chicken feeds, they are anything but alive and so the benefits will be lessened. Growing the food for our chickens could well be the key to both flock health and contentment and to making the homestead or farm more self-sufficient and ecologically sound.  Joel Salatin, of pastured poultry fame, said that a chicken’s diet could consist of as much as 30 percent from pasture grasses and legumes. And both humans and chickens benefit from a 12% to 18% protein diet. We both appreciate variety. But just what can you  grow in the garden to keep a small flock of hens happy, healthy, and highly productive.

  • Grains: feed corn, sorghum, amaranth, and sunflowers. All are beautiful, boost insect diversity and support pollinators, and ripen nutritious seeds.
  • Cover crops: small grains, buckwheat, and cowpeas.
  • Chard and mangels: Chard (Swiss chard) and mangels (fodder beets) are simply variants of garden beets, Beta vulgaris.
  • Potatoes: must be cooked
  • Comfrey: high-mineral, high-nitrogen leaves
  • Dairy byproducts: If you milk a cow or goat and make butter or cheese, skimmed or soured milk and whey are good poultry feeds.
  • Cultivated Earthworms and Soldier Grubs
  • Decomposers as live protein feeds: earthworms, black soldier flies, and carrion flies

You can use kitchen scraps of course.  We’ve been feeding them cucumber peels, tomato cores, onion ends and stale bread.  We’ve found that putting the table scraps through a blender in the evening and then putting the food out for the birds the following morning, and they demolish it.

And finally, guano can tell you a lot about the health of your birds!  Learn what the poop from a healthy bird with an efficient digestive system looks like. If you make a change and start getting a lot of smeary, off-color, smelly poops—back off and try again!

Do baby chicks need grit?

Yes indeed, baby chicks do need grit.  Just like their older parents and siblings, they use grit to grind down food in their gizzards.  Take a look at this article for more information about a chickens digestive system:

http://thenaturalpoultryfarmingguide.org/2013/02/14/your-chickens-need-grit/

What To Feed Chickens at Different Life Stages

Feeding your chickens a complete and balanced diet is essential if they are to stay healthy and lay lots of lovely eggs! Chickens will eat almost anything so to prevent deficiencies and health problems, a wide range of foods should be offered.

You’ll find that the feeding patterns of your chickens changes throughout the year.  Your chickens will benefit from foraging for bugs and greens in the summer and consequently eat less pellets.  Whereas in the winter when the weather gets colder, they’ll eat far more pellet based food to keep warm.

And another good tip is to hang your feeders. Hang them about five inches off the ground so that they’re mobile and the girls can’t knock the feeders over, spilling food and wasting it, which in turn  attracts rodents.

Corn is a huge favourite with our chickens.  It warms them up at night in the winter, but more importantly, throw it on the floor and let them scratch for it. It’s their entertainment. It’s going to keep them occupied and hopefully, they’ll fill up on that, and go to bed with a nice, full crop, which will keep them warm over the night.

The other thing that chickens need available all the time is mixed grit. It’s a mixture of flint grit and oyster shell. Now, chickens don’t have teeth, so need the flint grit to aid the digestion of their food.  The grit and food goes into their gizzard where a strong muscle action, ‘grinds’ the food up.  It also  helps prevent crop impactions. The dissolvable grit, like oyster shell, they use for their egg shells and mineral intake.  For birds that are laying large numbers of eggs, an easy and high calcium supplement is dried egg shell ground to a powder and added to their normal feed. Layer pellets are supplemented with calcium as well. Soft or thin shelled eggs may indicate calcium problems in your birds.

In addition to a good quality poultry pellet, a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables should also be given daily. Examples of raw fruits and vegetables that can be fed include: Bok choy, silverbeet, spinach, endive, chickweed, cabbage, vegetable peels and fruit (e.g. banana). In addition, table foods such as wholemeal rice, rolled oats, cooked pasta, beans, bread and legumes can be offered as well occasionally. If you are unsure about the safety of a particular foodstuff check with your veterinarian and/or experienced chicken owner first.

You can feed your chickens your kitchen scraps.  But make sure scraps don’t contain anything that is high in fat or salt, and avoid feeding anything that is rancid or spoiled.  Do not feed your chickens: rhubarb, avocado, chocolate, onion, garlic, citrus fruits or lawn mower clippings (as these can become mouldy quickly and mouldy food can make chickens very sick).

Source: http://kb.rspca.org.au/What-should-I-feed-my-backyard-chickens_305.html