Tag Archives: geese

How to protect chickens from foxes

This is a great article by Andy Blackmore and I thougbht would prove useful for all us poultry keepers!  You can read more of Andy’s great blogs HERE

Know your enemy: Mr Fox makes a wily opponent for those new to poultry keeping (Picture: Getty)
Know your enemy: Mr Fox makes a wily opponent for those new to poultry keeping

Even if you’ve decided that keeping urban chickens is not for you it’s a fair bet you will encounter their nemesis – the fox. The first thing that says you are the subject of unwanted fox attention is the disagreeable smell – a sharp choking musty aroma – an unpleasant amalgam of musk, blocked drains and stale urine.

Foxes are wily adversaries of those inexperienced in keeping poultry. And any small mistake will be punished unmercifully – so let’s take it as red that your coop or hutch is sturdy, strong and perhaps has even been sold to you as fox proof.

Even so you might want to consider a little help in skewing things further in your favour  – so here are a few suggestions.

Electric fencing: Foxes check everything with their noses first so it shouldn’t take too many shocking encounters for them to get the message. While being the most obvious solution it can seem quite expensive – but worth it to protect both your investment and your feathered friends.

Light and sound: Leaving a radio on in the coop overnight can be very effective simply because a fox would generally prefer not to be in the presence of humans and simple lighting arrays that mimic the eyes of another predator like the Nite Guard Solar can also work wonders.

Sonic repellents: They do work but you get what you pay for and as they start at around £20. But remember these will be audible to dogs; so opt for models that only sound when they detect a threat and not one on all day – or you could send your pets barking mad.

Chemical repellents: There are a couple on the market but Scoop is widely acclaimed as the most effective product of its type on the market. It’s totally safe for use in gardens, near chickens, on plants and edible crops and is humane, bio-degradable and very effective.

Scent marking: Most of us won’t have access to Lion dung (as used by one well known comedian to protect his brood) but we have the next best thing – for free. This involves directly mimicking the territorial behaviour of a fox by the application of male urine to your boundaries – I’ll leave issues of supply and demand to your imagination. However, if that’s too much for you, consider using human hair (male works best), either your own after a cut or try asking at your local barbers. Stuff some into a pair of old tights and hang around the margins of your garden – good luck.

Source: http://metro.co.uk/2013/06/11/pet-blog-how-to-protect-chickens-from-foxes-3836084/

Flooding Causes Attack On Wildlife Volunteer

It turns out humans are not the only ones who are upset following the recent natural disasters.

Kathy Stelford, founder of Oaken Acres Wildlife Center in Sycamore, Illinois, told KMOX that one of her volunteers was recently attacked by an annoyed goose while performing field work.

“The male just came out after him with his wings spread, running like crazy,” Stelford said of the goose attack.

She said the only explanation for this erratic behavior is the weather. Recent flooding washed away the birds’ nests causing a delay in egg-laying season, causing the birds to become agitated.

The wildlife volunteer was not injured in the attack.

Source: http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2013/06/06/flooding-causes-attack-on-wildlife-volunteer/

A Chicken Poll

Keeping Poultry – A review of some books, manuals and guides

After wading through many books on keeping chickens and other poultry, I wanted to share with you a few of the books that have been on my kitchen table for the last few years.  I like the books to be clear, concise and if possible, entertaining!  Oh and good, clear photography is always a winner too!

Chicken Haynes

The pitch:

This book, the latest innovative “Haynes Manual“, will provide a complete and easy-to-understand reference for the growing band of people wishing to keep their own chickens for both food and pleasure. Pitched at the novice but also containing plenty to interest the experienced chicken-keeper, the book will contain no-nonsense advice, tips, facts and step-by step sequences, as well as plenty of relevant photographs and diagrams. As more people keep chickens nowadays than at any time since the Second World War, this book is a timely addition to the “Haynes” range.

Our thoughts:

This is a great book for anyone thinking about, or already owning chickens. It’s packed with great pictures of everything you need to know about, from things like scaly leg and red mite for the novice to keeping and showing for the more experienced keepers.  There are clear and concise sections on diet, care, housing, breeding and illness along with many more sections on how to care for your chickens.  It can sometimes feel as if the book is geared more towards the keeper who has a large number of hens, and not so much your back garden keeper. However, the detail is very good without being over complicated. There are also list of daily, weekly, monthly checklists as well as a chicken calendar giving you a month by month account of what to expect!

Chickens an essential guideThe pitch:

In Chickens, poultry breeder Suzie Baldwin offers a practical guide to everything both the beginner and more experienced hen owner needs to know, from whether to buy chicks or hens, what varieties to chose, how to tell if you’re buying a healthy chicken and how to ensure it stays that way, to how many chickens you should keep, and what kind of coop is best. She also answers all the questions commonly posed by first-time owners, from whether you need to have a cockerel, whether chickens ever fly away and how quickly they will start laying, to how to prevent them being attacked by foxes and what to do when they become unwell.

Our thoughts:

This is a great book for anyone thinking of raising chickens, as it will take you gently by the hand and tell you everything you need to know to start you adventure in raising chickens.  Packed with beautiful photos and easy to understand text, it would prove an invaluable resource you will turn to again and again.  It covers everything from setting up your garden to what to do when they are ill and things to consider when going on holiday. The authors personal stories are a lovely addition as they really explain her points well and make you realise that she really does know what she is talking about.

DummiesThe pitch:

Practical how–to advice for keeping chickens   “For me, raising chickens, for eggs and meat, has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of our family farm. I am a great admirer of “chicken whisperer” Pammy Riggs, and with her two co–authors she has produced an admirably thorough guide to enjoying the pleasures and avoiding the pitfalls of keeping chickens. Get the book, and take the feathery plunge!” – Hugh Fearnley–Whittingstall    Keeping Chickens For Dummies provides you with an introduction to all aspects of keeping chickens, from constructing a hutch to the correct feeding regime. It offers expert advice straight from the River Cottage ‘Chicken Whisperer′, so whether you′re looking to raise chickens for eggs, meat, or just the entertainment value and fun –  Keeping Chickens For Dummies is the perfect place to start. Keeping Chickens For Dummies: Shows you how to keep chickens in different conditions Offers guidance on choosing and purchasing chickens Gives great step–by–step advice on constructing the right housing Provides expert advice on how to feed and care for your chickens.

Our thoughts:

This is an excellent, comprehensive and very readable book. It is clearly laid out and very accessible. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone starting to keep chickens and will help you avoid any of the pit falls that it’s easy to stumble into when first starting out.  It’s also packed with enough insightful information to be a valuable bible for the seasoned pro!  Beware though, that there are US and UK editions, each specific to chicken keeping in that country!  Let this guide by your chicken bible.  From the basics of chicken keeping, egg laying, housing, skin issues, to housing an all round great guide.

Practical guideThe pitch:

This comprehensive and practical guide provides all the information that you need in order to start keeping poultry. A buyer’s guide shows you what features to look for in healthy poultry as well as the best sources from which to buy them. Essential information is provided on feeding, hygiene, treating ailments, and good poultry husbandry. The second half of the book is a beautifully illustrated guide to poultry breeds. It is divided into sections covering foundation breeds and man made breeds with each subdivided according to type of poultry. A final chapter looks at popular goose, duck and turkey breeds. If you are interested in keeping a few hens in the back garden, selling eggs for profit, breeding birds for sale or exhibiting pure breeds, this authoritative guide, written by a leading expert and international poultry judge, is the perfect book for you.

Our thoughts:

We love this book, because it gives a great overview of keeping different varieties of poultry, not just chickens!   It’s a bit like having an expert standing next to you all the time, offering tips and reassurance.  But beware, because it’s covering so many different varieties of poultry, it doesn’t go into as much detail about specific breeds.  If you want that kind of information, you’d be best to go for a species specific book

Deer Mother Goose

Ever since they were spotted in early April, it was like a scene right out of a Disney movie. The mother goose had lost her lifelong mate and was now left alone to create and tend to her nest in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, NY.  She spent the day sheltering her eggs from the cool spring air inside an empty urn she had chosen as home.

The loss of her male partner and guardian now made her vulnerable to any would-be predators that chose to approach the nest.  But, in an unlikely twist of fate, an adult deer  befriended the mother goose, taking over the role of protector.

This animal arrangement was highly unusual, since there’s no known way that a deer and goose can communicate. Yet somehow the deer came to understand the need of the nesting mother.

Mark Carra is a naturalist in residence with the Buffalo Audubon Society site at Beaver Meadows in North Java, Wyoming County. Carra says this type of bonding between animals may happen more than we realize. He cites the example of a crow watching over a kitten several years ago. Carra also theorizes that there may have been a previous connection between the deer and the goose that we just don’t know about. It could be the deer lost its mother while young and the goose helped it out.

Carra also applauded the installation of the web-cam by WGRZ’s Andy Parker noting people may be curious. But if they approached too close they could spook the deer and cause problems. They might also have provoked the goose on her nest. He cited examples of bald eagles simply choosing to abandon a nest with eggs because people got too close while trying to watch with binoculars.

Joel Thomas, wildlife administrator with the SPCA of Erie County, says the deer will now probably return to its normal deer – like activities as its feeds, forages, and eventually loomks to breed in the fall. It is thought to be a male deer or buck from its appearance.

The deer spent its days near the urn acting as guardian when needed.  As passersby approached the area the deer stood  and placed itself between the person and the nesting goose.  On one occasion the deer even took a protective stance as it attempted to fend off a barking dog near the area of the urn. It was also seen on the webcam fending off some crows which were watching the vulnerable goslings.

Craig Cygan owner of Borders on Patrol, a company hired to move the goose flock from time to time says a goose would normally attempt to fend off the deer with loud honks and raised wings especially near the nest.  This one, he says seemed to like the company.

UPDATE: The mother goose and her six or seven goslings have now “flown the coop” after they hatched in the past day or so. They were seen under the mother goose in the nest urn earlier on Wednesday but then were photographed leaving the nest and walking around the cemetery.  So far there is no sign of the deer which was apparently watching over them.

Source: http://www.wgrz.com/news/article/118358/37/Live-Video—Deer-Stands-Guard-Over-Goose

For more on this story: http://youtu.be/nbutsCN4OWYhttp://youtu.be/C0GMk4RNSIk

Urban Duck Keeping

Keeping any poultry can be immensely rewarding but it can also be a challenge when you live in an urban environment and have foxes or raccoons to contend with.  Mackenzie from Simply Human Blog tells us all about her ducks, their home and the challenges she’s faced setting up her ducks  in the city of Colarado Springs in the US.

“Mackenzie from Simply Human Blog here.  I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to our ducks.  This is our duck pen.  It’s 150 square feet down on the ground and we have a lot of raccoons and foxes in the area, we buried the fencing down one foot to make sure nothing was able to dig under it.  As you can see it’s one inch by half inch at the bottom, and the top is one inch by two inch mesh so it covers the whole ceiling so nothing can get down in there.  Our ducks are now about two months old, we got them on April 4th, well they were hatched on April 4th.  And they’re gonna be quite noisy as I move around here as they think I’m gonna feed them weeds.  The beauty of ducks is all I do is weed my garden and throw em in there with them, in addition to the feed I give them.  The feed is an organic corn, like a meal type of a thing, it’s been working out great.  I feed myself organic, so I wanted to feed these guys organic.  It costs me a little bit more.  You can see the ramp that leads up to their main housing.  And i have two buckets down here for them to play in and drink.  They need to be changed about twice a day, and long term I’ll probably put a third bucket out there so they don’t need me to do that.  Also I’m gonna put a platform in here, where the floor drains into some tubs.  I’ll show you the floor in their main house, with the water and that drains in to some tubs and makes the clean up really easy.  If you know anything about ducks, they are very messy, they dig around in their water and spit it out all over the ground, dig down into the ground.  And in an effort to keep that cleaner, I’m going to build a platform here.”

“OK, let me take you into the cage.  They’re gonna get loud for a minute, but I wanna be able to show you the inside of their pen.  This is the main part of their house.  I only put them in here at night and sometimes they come up here during the day, but not very often.  This is the light I used when they were younger.  I haven’t used it in a while so I should probably pull it out of there.  Colarado Springs law requires that we have 4ft of indoor space per any fowl.  So that’s why I have such a large indoor space for them.  And I’ll take you round the backside of the pen here.  This door is for clean out.  It makes the cleaning out of the pen quite easy.  This door is where their food is kept when they’re inside their pen.  It’s just a small room that leads into their main house, and there’s a door on this side that leads into their water.  I did this because that way they won’t be able to drag that much water from their water dish into their sleeping quarters.  It keeps it drier and it works out splendidly.  This is their water shed.  This is a 5 gallon self waterer.  I clean it out and fill it every other day.  The floor is wire mess and underneath it is a slanted tin floor, that helps keeps the water draining out into the tubs that I have.  It keeps the smell down.  I can just spray this clean, it works out very nicely for it’s purposes.  Here are the tubs.  And I empty them out about every other day.  They don’t get very full unless I leave them for several days.  When they’re full I empty them on the compost pile.  It keeps the moisture level in my compost up.  This is the HOT compost right now, when I clean out the cages, I’m surrounded by neighbours on all sides, and to keep the smell down I always dig back the compost pile and put their old bedding underneath and cover it up with the old compost, that helps to keep the smell down.  It’s done a great job so far; no complaints from the neighbours.  I worry more about the noise than I do about the smell. I hardly have a problem with the smell at all, I keep em pretty clean.”

“The floor of the pen is covered with straw, that only need to be cleaned up every two months, it doesn’t get too bad in there.  The inside has wood chips  And I use wood chips and wood shavings, and those I clean up about once a month otherwise the ammonia smell gets too strong.  They are not supposed to be able to fly, these breeds, at least any distance.  Well as you can see they’re quite entertaining.  My husband and I have enjoyed having them in the yard and watching them play.  It’s just been a great time.  There’s a lot of discussion about whether to have ducks or chickens, we did ducks specifically because we could have a male here in the city limits.  With chickens, because of roosters being so loud, we’re no allowed to have a male, that means we can’t raise our own young.  And it’s cheaper probably, in the long run to raise our own young, so that’s why we went with ducks.  A little more work in the interim, but we rather enjoy them.  They’re very meditative.  I love watching them play in their water.  As you can see they’re quite rambunctious.  Anyway, until the next time”.

Keeping Geese – Getting Started

So far we’ve been concentrating on everything to do with keeping chickens, but if you’re after a bird that is full of charm, character and can guard your house like a dog, then geese are the answer!  These wonderful creatures also make great pets and in the coming articles we’re going to look at everything you need to know about keeping them successfully.

Did you know?

Did you know that geese can live to be more than 20 years old, so is certainly something to consider when deciding on keeping them.  They are also sociable animals and like to have each others company, so you should be thinking of getting more than just one!

What do you need to start?

Just like keeping all types of poultry, geese need space to roam.  Geese are by nature, a free ranging breed, and need space to move around, so a large garden for a smallish flock is ideal.

Housing Your Geese

Just like any other pet, your geese need a safe, sheltered spot that they can retreat to at night and when they want some relief or protection from the sun, wind or rain.  A stable, shed or small building will provide suitable housing. If purpose-built, the house does not need to be huge, but should be at least 6ft high and 4ft at the back and give each goose at least a square meter of floor space.  An area of 8ft x 6ft will comfortably house 4-6 geese. A good wide door should be provided and most of the front should be wire mesh. The house should face away from the prevailing winter wind. A higher roof makes cleaning easier, as does a concrete or wooden floor. Sections partitioned off will encourage your geese to make their nests in a secure place, as well as preventing them from stealing each other’s eggs when sitting. Make sure the house is well ventilated and dry and that the floor is covered with a dry material such as sawdust or wood shavings, which you replace when necessary.  Straw makes the best bedding and needs to be changed regularly.

Feeding Geese

As geese eat grass and the insects that live in the grass, you’ll find that the small areas of you garden the geese graze will become messy and bare, and the geese will need to be moved onto a new grassy patch as time goes on.  Make sure the grass is kept relatively short; less than 4 inches high.  But grass isn’t their only food source and you’ll have to make sure they get the protein, vitamins and minerals they need in their diet too.  You can supplement the grass with a mixture of wheat and pellets, given dry in a bowl.  Geese will also happily eat vegetables such as cauliflower trimmings, carrots and potatoes, but you need make sure that these are more of a treat, rather than a staple part of the diet.  Like any bird, they will also need grit in their diet and you can provide this by supplying a dish containing coarse sand or mixed poultry grit.

Water

Of course water is vital!  If you have a pond (it must be clean) it will supply the geese with a consistent and fresh source of water.  Geese are a type of waterfowl, so will want to be able to play in water, doing things such as preening and dipping their heads.  Of course even if you don’t have one, they will need fresh water every day, which can be provided with special water hoppers.  How about a child’s paddling pool?  You’ll find the geese, like most waterfowl, are rather messy creatures, so will have to empty, scrub, and refill the water containers and tidy up their enclosure on a daily basis.

Don’t Forget to Check With Council

Finally, don’t forget to give your local council a call before you bring any geese home to see if there are any limits or restrictions on how many geese you can keep.  There are more likely to be restrictions in urban areas.