Did you know that chickens have image stabilized heads. It’s true! It’s actually called the vestibulo-ocular reflex. Naturally (and… nerdily?) people started suggesting that someone should try making a steadicam using a chicken. Well, YouTube user Destin actually went ahead and did it… The results can be seen in the video below.
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.
For Missy the Muscovy duck, this dry and warm shelter would have appeared like the perfect place to create a nest for her eggs.
But the bird was dangerously close to becoming a roast duck after unwittingly setting up home in a large furnace.
Groundsman Mario Kopitski, 46, was shocked to discover the duck and twelve eggs nesting in the replica 5ft Norman smelting oven moments before he was about to light it.
He was on his daily round of lighting three smelting ovens in the in the nine acre grounds of Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted, Essex, when he discovered the white duck and its eggs.
The 25-year-old replica oven is used for cooking bread and reaches temperatures of up to 200C.
Mr Kopitski said despite a variety of animals residing at the farm, including 25 other Muscovy ducks, peacocks and deer, none had ever made their nest in such an unusual place.
‘I’m so relieved I checked the oven when I did – otherwise poor Misty would have been toast,’ he said.
‘It was a real shock to see her sat there and I’m so pleased her and the eggs are safe.’
Alan Goldsmith, who has been curator of the 200AD castle for thirty years, said the duck was incredibly lucky to be alive.
‘It’s awful to think that in a few seconds poor Missy could have been roast duck,’ he said.
‘We’ve decided to leave her there in peace until the eggs hatch in 28 days time and then her ducklings will join her around the grounds.
‘I just can’t get over what a close call she had, it’s been a complete surprise to all of us here.’
If you are new to keeping chickens, picking up any poultry magazine or visiting stockists of poultry equipment and feeds can prove a little daunting given the amount of kit on sale. You will want to do right by your birds and ensure the husbandry of the flock is spot on, but are what essentials should you invest in?
Every poultry keeper should have at hand a field kit: the sort of stuff you will need one or more items from at least once a week. I find it useful to put them all in a bag or box so they are to hand. (It’s also ideal if you are away from home and have someone else caring for the birds.)
Torch – it’s often easier to handle and treat chickens after they have gone to roost; they tend to be much calmer then and can be easily handled. It does mean you will be working in the dark, so you’ll need a torch. Investing in a good-quality head torch, particularly one that has adjustable beam strength, will mean you have both hands free to deal with the chickens.
Scissors – a strong, sharp pair of scissors for cutting string, bandages, plasters and most of all, flight feathers, if there is a flighty one who keeps jumping out the pen.
Toenail clippers and nail file – most chickens will keep their toenails worn down by scratching around, but birds kept indoors or on soft ground may require a bit of a pedicure. Plus you may need to attend to the spurs of some cockerels.
Leg rings – having a range of leg rings in different colours and sizes means you can quickly and easily mark an individual bird. This can be particularly useful if administering treatments to the flock and will help identify those who have been treated from those yet to be dealt with.
Pliers or wire cutters – these are not only useful for emergency fence repairs but are also ideal for quickly removing plastic leg rings.
Feeding syringes – a collection of different-sized feeding syringes are essential for administering fluids such as medicines down the chickens’ throat.
Latex disposable gloves – these are not a frequent requirement. but when it comes to vent-related problems such as a prolapse or vent gleetthey can make the task much easier for the keeper (and probably more comfortable for the chicken too).
Vet’s antiseptic spray – ideal for treating minor wounds to birds but can also double up as anti-feathering pecking spray in minor cases of plumage pulling.
Petroleum jelly – not only does this serve well as a lubricant for sticky catches and locks it can also be applied to the combs of birds during extremely cold weather to reduce the risk of frost bite and applied to dry patches of skin on the face or legs. It’s also handy when treating for scaly leg mite on the chickens should they become infested.
Cotton buds – for delicate tasks such as cleaning around the eye or nasal passages of the birds.
Purple spray – works in much the same way as the vet’s antiseptic spray, however it has the advantage of being visible. This means it can also be used to quickly and temporarily mark birds, either post-treatment or for further selection. Don’t use on chickens you intend to exhibit, though, as it can be difficult to remove fully.
Pet carrier or dog crate – you can never have too many pet carriers for transporting or quarantining chickens. Plastic dog or cat carriers are ideal for single or small numbers of chickens, but be sure to disinfect after each use to avoid any possible transferral of pests or diseases.
Vet’s telephone number – it may not be necessarily needed by you, but if you have friends or neighbours looking after your stock when you are away it could prove invaluable.
The adorable bird’s “mother” is Muriel Garmson, who was walking along Newport Canal when she spotted a small duck egg on the floor.
Unable to locate the nest, Mrs Garmson, 65, took the egg home and put it in the first warm place she could think of, nestled snugly in the drawer in the bedroom of her home in Broomfield Road, Newport.
Six days later the duckling was born – and he is now preparing to be adopted at Hoo Farm in Telford.
Retired Mrs Garmson said: “I took the egg home in my pocket and then put it in my knickers drawer to keep it warm with a hot water bottle.
“That was Thursday and then he finally hatched on Tuesday at 9.45am.
“I could hear some chirping when I got out of the shower and there he was.”
“I put him in a dog cage with cardboard around the edge and have arranged him have him homed at Hoo Farm.”
The black and yellow duckling has been nicknamed Quacker to Mrs Garmson’s friends, but she says she prefers to call him Hope because of the miraculous way it managed to survive against the odds.
Mrs Garmson said she rang a vet for advice on how to care for the new arrival but found that their knowledge of ducks was limited.
She resorted to asking friends for advice and says that Hope is now doing well and making himself very much at home.
“He was noisy at first but he has settled down now,” said Mrs Garmson.
“When I went to talk to him this morning he didn’t want me to leave the room. He thinks I’m his mummy.
“I’ll be sad to see him go, but he needs to be around other ducks.”
DON’T build a chicken farm and spoil our rural play area is the message from two young campaigners who have joined the fight against the plans.
Grace and Maxim Plowman, both aged 10, have written to Wychavon District Council about their fears over a planned broiler rearing facility which would house 80,000 chickens.
The twins are from Naunton Beauchamp, one of the villages that would potentially be affected by the farm, proposed on a piece of land near Froghall bungalow in Naunton Road, Upton Snodsbury.
In the letter, Grace writes: “I love my home because it’s such a rural area. Which means no busy roads that keep me awake at night! But chickens going ‘cluck cluck cluck’ might keep me awake.
“I am also very happy to have a ford so close to me. I (and my friends) have a den there (by the side of piddle brook). If the chicken farm goes ahead the stinky chicken droppings will get stuck to cause a dam that will stop the fresh water flow which the animals drink.
“So please do the right thing and don’t spoil my childhood’.
Maxim adds: “The chicken farm will spoil the local environment, pollute the waters and damage natural areas of beauty.”
The twins’ parents Claire and Mike Plowman also have concerns. Mrs Plowman said: “Our main worries are the location. We sat the children down to talk to them about it.
There was no doubt they wanted to write the letters.”
Another worried resident, David Pollitt, of Cowsden, said the arrival of the farm would scupper an ambition to open his garden under the National Gardens Scheme.
The 74-year-old said: “If it does go ahead I don’t think I could speak to the NGS.”
Wychavon planning head Giorgio Framalicco said: “We’re considering the planning application and are very aware of public concern.”
If humans can have off-grid, prefabricated structures, who says livestock shouldn’t get the same eco-treatment. A recent competition held by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development asked for an upgrade to inefficient and polluting family-run chicken coops in Galilee and the winning design was this sleek, prefabricated, renewable energy powered chicken coop by Peleg/Burshtein Architects and landscape architect Nathan Gulman. Their winning design incorporates all the necessary functions of a chicken coop into one building, provides its own renewable energy and processes its own waste in a closed loop system.