Victoria will be providing monthly tips on our website for anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of keeping poultry.
Some background on Victoria Roberts:
"I set out to be a vet with the objective of improving the welfare of backyard poultry as it is a rising hobby, vets now needing this specialized information to cope with the increasing number of pet chickens that are presented to them, diseases and disorders often caused by owner ignorance. My lecture circuit now includes vets, vet students, pet shops, chicken magazines and vet practices who invite interested clients to learn more about poultry."
Find out more about Victoria on her website www.vicvet.com
February - Enjoy your chickens!
If not able to provide extra lighting, begin feeding a breeder ration to light breeds and those flocks producing eggs for incubation.
Feed only wheat as a whole grain treat once the weather warms up, maize is too heating.
Handle all birds to check for body condition score, not too much fat over pin bones, fat birds lay fewer eggs.
1. Get a good husbandry book before getting your chickens
2. Check if birds you are buying have been vaccinated
3. Do not buy from auctions unless you know the seller
4. Quarantine new birds for 3 weeks
5. Check birds visually every day for all the normal positive signs of health
6. Check birds by handling once weekly
7. Check colour and consistency of droppings daily
8. Contact a vet when you first get the birds so that when you need them, they know who you are and what you have got
9. Treat against worms with the licensed product at least twice yearly, more often if on small area
10. Enjoy your chickens!
January - Tips for the new year
Plastic washing up bowls may be the easiest method of keeping water flowing in harsh weather.
All poultry need worming with Flubenvet every 4 months, more often if on a small area of ground.
Add a little vegetable oil to pellets to stick the powder, feed for 7 days.
Give lighting to chickens to increase fertility, plus a breeder ration and set early eggs in an incubator that has been run for a few days to test correct temperature.
Pair up turkeys in order to maintain pure lines.
In wet weather, put mesh or duck-boards in front of the pophole to avoid wet/dirty feet contaminating any eggs.
December - Encouraging laying and breeding
- Give maximum 14 hours electric lighting to encourage laying and breeding.
- Pair up heavy breeds of chickens and start them on breeder ration.
- Put garden lime (dose is a light dusting) on poultry ground, keep poultry off for 3 months and re-seed if necessary in the spring.
November - Getting ready for cold weather
- Keep water fresh and flowing in harsh weather.
- Maize and wheat helps keep poultry warm in cold weather.
- Throughout winter, hang up dark green vegetables (not via the kitchen) to provide vitamin A for healthy skin, mucous membranes and eyes.
- Attend winter poultry shows to find out about pure breeds and get advice and equipment.
October – Adding to your flock
October is the best time to add new geese to a flock as the pair bond is weakest and they are likely to welcome newcomers.
Keep feed dry and free from vermin, use before expiry date to maintain vitamin content.
Use spare drakes of small breeds to rid the vegetable garden of slugs.
September – Preparing for next season
Start feeding garden birds again, having disinfected the bird table and feeders with F10.
Check good quality of feed through chicken moult, provide a seaweed supplement at moult to increase feather strength.
Sort out breeding flocks for next season, checking health and body condition score.
August - General care tips
Turkeys will be moulting at this time so keep food of good quality.
Sell young stock not needed, for breeding.
Maintain water supplies as hens will stop laying if they do not have enough water.
July - Moulting habits
- Stop feeding garden birds to avoid disease transference between many young garden birds.
- Sort out young stock, keep the best for breeding.
- Waterfowl drakes moult twice, once in female colouration for camouflage until wing feathers come through then in to their nuptial plumage. Ducks moult once. Geese moult once.
June - Hut maintenance
- Light and warm early mornings can lead to feather-pecking, hang up nettle bunches in the hut to provide food and entertainment.
- Treat hen hut wood with non-toxic paint early on a warm day so it dries before the hens’ bedtime.
- Ensure all hens are in the hut when closing the pophole, some breeds like to sleep outside in warmer weather leading to predation.
May - Keeping poultry safe from vermin
- Get young stock on grass, protect them from vermin.
- When rats become a problem, remove poultry feed at night.
- Trap rats or get a poisoning certificate.
- Feed excess edible plants from the garden or vegetable plot.