The Five Freedoms
The Animal Welfare Act (2006) includes a duty of care for animals. All Chicken Keepers must take reasonable steps to ensure that they meet their animals welfare needs.
These are the 'Five Freedoms' recommended by the Farm Animal Welfare Council
*Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
*Freedom from discomfort
*Freedom from pain, injury or disease
*Freedom to express normal behaviour
*Freedom from fear and distress
We have produced a Hen Management Guide
Our hybrid pullets are fed on a Growers Feed ration until they reach 17 weeks of age. We provide our hybrid pullets with a complete diet of Layers Pellets from 17 weeks old. Pullets should have access to age appropriate feed ration, mixed grit and fresh clean water to maintain health.
Treats such as greens and mixed corn should be kept to a minimum in the run up to a new pullet coming into lay. The Layers Pellets offers a complete feed ration. Too many greens can cause hen's to have a bad tummy & mixed corn is like us having crisps and chocolate and a minimum should be given (I recommend an egg cup full per bird, per day).
When adding new hen's to your flock, please make sure it is done with good supervision to make sure things are okay. Friday afternoon is always a popular time to collect hen's so you can pop the new hen's in once the existing hens have gone to roost and then you can spend time over the weekend observing and supervising the hen's.
Chickens have a natural pecking order. This hierarchy can sometimes cause problems and new young hens may feel intimidated. Make sure your hen's are feeding properly and getting access to water. You can monitor this by quickly feeling the new hen's crops at night when roosting, the crop is found at the base of the front of the neck and should feel like a golf ball (meaning there is food in it). In the morning, it will be empty. If a new hen is intimidated and bullied, she may not get enough food which will see a decrease in body weight and immunity is lowered making her more exposed to bugs and diseases.
Mixing with other Hen's
Although hen's can be mixed with absolutely no problems, we want our customers to be aware that sometimes things may go wrong. A young pullet has a immature immune system and she may not be able to cope with any disease challenge from other hen's. A healthy and vaccinated pullet with good body weight and no stress, will build natural immunity in her new surroundings whilst she settles in but if she has too many stresses at one time, her immune system may not be able to cope and she may be exposed to disease, even ones which she has been vaccinated against. Please be aware of this when mixing hen's. Ideally new hen's should not be mixed in with other hens until 2 weeks after arriving in their new home.
If you are adding to your flock, please be aware that new hen's must not be mixed with hen's which have been ill in the past or where illness has been in the flock. Many poultry diseases remain dormant, in the ground and some can even lay dormant in a healthy hen & she will be a carrier. She may not have symptoms but may carry disease and this can be crucial as stress of adding new hens to the flock may see the illness being triggered to arise again and may be passed to the new hen's.
Hen's need plenty of daily exercise, like you and me, everyday. They need to be able to walk, scratch around and display natural behaviours. If they cannot do this their health and fitness will drop. Not having enough space can cause many problems, such as bullying, lack of eggs, boredom and reduced immunity brought on by stress. Ideally hens should be kept in a free-ranging environment or a good sized pen. Recommended size is at least 1m sq. per bird. The hen area should be kept as clean and safe as possible. Muddy areas harbour harmful parasites and must be avoided by moving regularly the hen / coop to fresh ground or dealing with the situation by putting down hardwood chips or slabs. Make sure that hen's are free from any danger, eg, from predators or simple dangers such as making sure chickens are not exposed to anything that can harm them, such as weedkillers, poisons. Wild Birds should be deterred as much as possible from the chickens & if you have cats, remember Chickens are omnivorous and may catch and kill mice and leave the corpse lying around, mice are a high disease risk.
The hen house should be clean, well ventiliated and vermin proof. Ventilation and Health go part and part - making sure there is enough air will ensure health is maintained. Dirty bedding harbours disease and will give off ammonia which can damage respiratory systems. Make sure the house is regularly cleaned and disinfected.
Mites, Lice and other Crawly Things...
Your hen's will pick up mites and crawly bugs, it is in their nature to do so, especially when free-ranging. The odd mite is easily treated and controlled and a hen will naturally dust bath which will help keep her clean. If your hen's do not have access to dust bath or treated regularly for mites, then it can cause serious problems to the hens health. Biting mites not only cause irritation but spread disease. We stock a range of mite and lice powders and disinfectants.
Worming your hen's
We recommend that all hen's are wormed with FLUBENVET a minimum of twice a year. If your hens are kept in a static run, we advise treating the ground regularly with Stalosan F to minimise the amount of worm eggs and pathogens in the soil and to worm your hens 4 times a year. Worms can burden health and cause all sorts of problems. Lack of eggs, loss of body weight, weak immune system and death can occur.