What breed of hen?

Alias

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Lancashire
We had a "farmyard" flock ages back , and we used to hatch eggs from them - hybrids;) ? The incubators were in an old 12 x 8 poultry cabin with no insulation at all . They were paraffin heated "Gloster Glevum (I think ) and every night's job was to turn the eggs , fill with paraffin and trim wicks . My uncle who did all this said that the incubators were "air circulation " types and needed the cabin to have a free flow of air to work satisfactorily - a bit draughty in other words . I don't know how true that was but he always managed a very high percentage hatch .
We had 150 egg Gloucester incubator and converted it to electric by putting a dull emitter bulb in the chimney, still using the capsule as the thermostat. It had felt sheets in the bottom which were removed as the embryos developed to increase the air flow as their oxygen requirement increased. It worked well, especially with ducks as I remember, but needed to be full and all the eggs a similar size and set on the same day to work best.
They used to say that to run a still air incubator was an art, but a forced air machine was a science.
 

Netherfield

Member
Location
West Yorkshire
The plan is a mobile chicken hutch with moveable electric netting - the chickens will follow the cattle round and hopefully get lots of their food from the insects in the cow pats etc.

Therefore I don’t want 330 eggs-per-year birds, that will need lots of supplementary feeding. I want good foragers that will lay reasonably well with only a little top-up feed and some calcium for their shells.

Which breed do you all think would tick these boxes?
I've been reading with interest, any of the above mentioned breeds will cope well with the outdoor life.

But you won't get away without a regular supply of food, access to a clean water supply is essential as well.

At the moment the Avian Flu isn't helping.
 

tr250

Member
Location
Northants
The plan is a mobile chicken hutch with moveable electric netting - the chickens will follow the cattle round and hopefully get lots of their food from the insects in the cow pats etc.

Therefore I don’t want 330 eggs-per-year birds, that will need lots of supplementary feeding. I want good foragers that will lay reasonably well with only a little top-up feed and some calcium for their shells.

Which breed do you all think would tick these boxes?
Presume the inspiration comes from Gabe brown. Nothing is very new my grandmother made a living doing a similar thing
 

The Ruminant

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
I've been reading with interest, any of the above mentioned breeds will cope well with the outdoor life.

But you won't get away without a regular supply of food, access to a clean water supply is essential as well.

At the moment the Avian Flu isn't helping.
Thanks, I suspected as much about the food! I anticipate the difficulty will be encouraging them to forage enough without them going short of feed. Any suggestions or tips, anyone? (Would just one good feed per day, that they cleared up in, say, 20 minutes, work, I wonder?

Water should be fine, I’ve piped in a supply from the river for my cattle so will tap into that as I move them around.
 

The Ruminant

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
Presume the inspiration comes from Gabe brown. Nothing is very new my grandmother made a living doing a similar thing
Yes, Gabe Brown, Joel Salatin, Richard Perkins, lots of people in fact. It makes perfect sense, I see them as fertilising machines and fly control machines and so any eggs I get will be a bonus to cover their costs. If I make a profit too, happy days.

The land is crisscrossed with heavily-used footpaths, which should be a blessing when it comes to selling eggs etc...
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Devon
Thanks, I suspected as much about the food! I anticipate the difficulty will be encouraging them to forage enough without them going short of feed. Any suggestions or tips, anyone? (Would just one good feed per day, that they cleared up in, say, 20 minutes, work, I wonder?

Water should be fine, I’ve piped in a supply from the river for my cattle so will tap into that as I move them around.
Daughter has found that the hens following the cattle on daily moves eat about half the amount of those she had shut in an old courtyard. No loss of egg production.
That's standard hybrids remember. Whether the breeds mentioned above will forage more and eat less concentrates?
That's also with food kept ad-lib all the time.
 

Guleesh

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Isle of Skye
Thanks, I suspected as much about the food! I anticipate the difficulty will be encouraging them to forage enough without them going short of feed. Any suggestions or tips, anyone? (Would just one good feed per day, that they cleared up in, say, 20 minutes, work, I wonder?

Water should be fine, I’ve piped in a supply from the river for my cattle so will tap into that as I move them around.
It's really my son who does the hens here, he feeds them a ration of layers pellets scattered on the ground in the morning. This is cleaned up in a few minutes, they spend the rest of the day foraging. Sometimes, (like now with bird flu) they are contained in a small cage that we move daily, sometimes we gives them a bigger area, such as the veg plot in the winter. We target problem areas of ground- mossy and low fertility patches mostly. In winter and spring they usually blacken the ground enough to be able to throw some seed down and have it take.

When we're fattening birds to eat we keep them moving on fresh grass and feed them whole wheat. They eat a surprising amount of grass, although the wheat is offered pretty much ad-lib.

In winter we mix some whole wheat into the layers pellets for the layers too.

To my mind it's quite a fine line between them laying or not laying, and from experience it's definitely a false economy to scrimp on layers pellets, but they can easily get enough in one daily feed, and will still work hard foraging.
 

Dry Rot

Member
Livestock Farmer
The main snag with free range is that unless the birds are secured in some way, vermin will find them. I congratulated myself that I'd finally cracked it by keeping a breed that roosted in the trees. Then I looked out of the window one day, at 8.30am, and there was Mr Fox crossing the lawn with a hen in his mouth! The next predator was my neighbour's "hen proof' dog.....
 

Netherfield

Member
Location
West Yorkshire
Layers around 3 to 4 oz, 85 to 115 grams each per day if they were inside.

Pellets best in this situation, birds on mash need to be made to eat up frquently, birds have the habit of eating the big pieces first and leaving the fine stuff, which leaves an unbalanced diet, the fine stuff will contain all the added vitamins and minerals. Access to the outside also means they will pick up tiny grit and stones, as nature intends, which is used in the gizzard .
 
get them into their home - lock em in for 24 hrs w/ food + water (this teaches them its home) - open them up (dawn), they graze you rock up say 3-4pm give grain (if your on non heading grass) and collect eggs - come back during dusk and lock up - chasing chickens in/picking up for probably the first week. you could have the bulk food in the house so you wouldnt need to put out but if your already moving the cows in the am then you could put out the pellets then...
A solar door opener is certainly paid for if youve got more than 50 birds... as it covers the dawn/dusk visits once theyve learned to go in after the first week (dont expect to not have to get them in OR just cull the stupid ones.)
 
eBay is your friend when it comes to hatching eggs
I'm just starting a Pekin project, but object to spending £3 each for hatching eggs on ebay.

I also have a pile of mixed Pekins (blue,white,splash & millefleur) that I need to sell so I can concentrate on the Lavender, but there are no auctions open... and facebook just seems to full of divs.
 

Cowmansam

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Shropshire
They were significantly less than that last time I bought off there but that was a couple years ago do hens have breed societies? Might be worth a look
 
They were significantly less than that last time I bought off there but that was a couple years ago
Prices have just gone mental


I'm not going to pay a fortune for exhibition quality, I just want to end up with a dozen or so Lavender Pekins that look like peas in a pod.
 

Alias

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Lancashire
It's still early days for buying hatching eggs. Come April there will be a lot more about and prices on eBay usually drop. Auctions might be selling eggs by then as well, Clitheroe were going to have an online sale of hatching eggs and deadstock a couple of weeks since but it was postponed at the last minute for some reason.
 

Guide your way through spring agronomy decisions

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The incessant and extreme wet conditions are now presenting huge challenges for every farm’s spring agronomy and cropping decisions.

Plans are being urgently reevaluated and rejigged to set priorities for treatment, with a watchful eye on deadlines for timely spring crop establishment when a window allows. And all against a backdrop of potential damage to soil structure to fields from traveling in waterlogged conditions.

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Lessons learned from last year have proved invaluable, with the latest Syngenta Spring Guide giving an insight into some of the tips and ideas to help with this season’s decisions...
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