Welcome to www.RehomingBatteryHens.com

Hi, my name’s Liz and welcome to www.RehomingBatteryHens.com. My site is all about helping you rehome rescued battery hens in the easiest and most stress free way possible. Learning through first hand experience of having hens I want to pass on as much help as I can to others thinking about rehoming their own flock. Please have a look round the site, post back comments on the blog and look at the review pages to see what worked for us and what didn’t.

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Chicken poo and the deep litter method.

Whilst researching chicken keeping a while back I found an article about the deep litter method.

This is a traditional method of  dealing with chicken waste. It requires minimal maintenance, doesn’t smell, produces heat which keeps the hens warm over winter and is super eco.

Putting it simply all you need to start the process is an earth floor to your hen-house with about 6-8 inches of brown material such as wood chip, pine or oak leaves on top. As the chickens waste builds up you just add layers of pine shavings or bedding. The girls scratch around in it and mix it up for you and you end up with beautiful compost you can put straight onto your garden once or twice a year.  As I said this is the simplistic version and it does need a little more attention than that but not as much as a conventional hen house does.

Personally I love the sound of it, so we are going to try it in our new hen-house. The only reservations I have is that the 6×4 shed the hens are going into won’t be big enough for the system to work properly and that the heat generated will make it too warm for the chickens in their new super warm shed.

 

I will be buying a thermometer to monitor the temperature. If it becomes too warm we will just have to cut more vents into the structure, that’s simple enough to manage I hope. At the end of the day if it all goes horribly wrong we will revert to the method we use at the moment of cleaning out daily. The girls will still have a nice new sparkly hen-house to live in that is safe and warm!

If anyone has used this system and has any advice please get in touch. I’ll be very grateful for any help!

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The trials and tribulations of buying and building a new hen house!

It’s been a long time coming but finally we have put up our new hen-house.

We decided to buy a new hen-house as ours had seen its best days and needed replacing. 

Having spent hours looking at hen houses on the internet and in shops I was very disappointed at the quality and exorbitant prices of most of them. Added to that with 13 hens to house the coops we saw were rarely big enough for our requirements. So we decided to buy a shed and adapt it.

Looking at sheds we discovered a plastic one that we felt would be perfect. Plastic would mean minimal maintenance. As I understand red mite don’t like plastic and are less likely to take up residence. On top of that there’s nothing to rot or paint, bonus!

The plastic itself is double thickness which gives it, it’s strength and will also insulate the hens in winter. Keeping them nice and warm. The down side is it could be too warm so I am having to buy extra ventilation grills to ensure adequate ventilation and air flow.

Hens need good air flow without it being draughty to stay healthy. Thankfully I can put the vents up high enough so the hens won’t be caught in any draughts but will be kept cool enough. I will also be buying a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature and make sure it’s not too hot or cold.

So we brought the hen-house and plotted out where it was going to go. A few weekends ago having dug the footings out we finally found the time to lay the foundations.

Now I have learned a very valuable lesson here. Brick laying is harder than it seems!

Having dug the footings and laid the bricks we realised our new laid foundations were not square, Panic! This would mean the shed wouldn’t fit.

Well after much scratching of heads we decided we would have to sit the shed on wood. So the shed and wood are at one angle and the foundations at another. Still as my wonderful Mark says nothing is straight in nature!

Now all we have to do is finish the paving so we can get to the shed without getting muddy, lower the level of earth in the run to accommodate the wood chip that we’re putting down and sort out the nesting boxes and perches, simple.

Still it should all be finished by Christmas……………I hope!

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Renovating and remodelling the hen run.

Well after much discussion, cogitation and note making we have started renovating the hen run and house. The last one had just about run it’s course and we needed to get things sorted before the winter really sets in.

This weekend the old gate into the run was removed along with the rotting posts and a bigger gate made. I had the task of paining all the wood with wood preservative.

As you can see from my photo below (yeah, I know, it’s scary!) I’m not the tidiest of painters. In my defence, it doesn’t help that some of the wood has to be painted through chicken wire. The wire catches the brush and that culminates in splashing the paint everywhere. Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it! If anyone has any suggestions on how I can paint wood through chicken wire without being coated with as much paint as the wood I’d be very grateful!

Tomorrow I’m buying a resin shed and adapting it and we’re going to try the deep litter method. Apparently this is supposed to work quite well. However I am still a little concerned about the smell in the summer with the run being so close to the neighbours, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Fingers crossed!

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Campaign to STOP caged hens.

This  is what we are all about. Please help support this campaign.

Do you have a notice board at work you could put this poster on or maybe in the back of your car. It is down to us as the consumer to change how we shop and stop the inhumane business of caged hens.

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The trials and tribulations of putting up a electric poultry fencing when you’re not built like Pluto

We recently brought an electric poultry fence in order to be able to move the hens and keep them safe as their run needs some seasonal work and the ground needs resting for a few weeks.

Never having seen electric fencing for poultry let alone source or use one, we had yet another learning curve to climb. Mark and I researched as much as we could and asked friends who have hens and our wonderful friends on our Facebook page for any advice they could give. So suitably educated (or so we thought) I was set the task of buying one.

Not being terribly good at measurements I guesstimated (first mistake!) the size of the bit of garden the hens would be going to and ordered a 50 metre electric poultry fence kit. The kit being the important part otherwise you have to buy all the bits separately.

Very impressively the fence was delivered within 48 hours of ordering. So the next weekend mark and I set off excitedly down the garden to set it up. Saturday was spent clearing the worst of the weeds and grass that would ”trip” the fence. apparently long grass weeds etc cannot be touching the fence or it doesn’t work properly (shorts the circuit).

Sunday, with everything ready we began to undo it from its box and set it up. Mark read the instructions (yes he is the exception to the rule where men are generally concerned!) and we set about putting it up. Well I say we, actually it was me as Mark was too busy filming me for this site and laughing. You see due to my inability with weights and measures as I mentioned earlier I had ordered a 50 metre fence where a 15 metre one would have sufficed!

It was folded very thoughtfully into it’s 6 foot panels. Now this is very practical and stops the fence becoming one giant cats cradle as you try to put it up. The not inconsiderable down side for me was being 5’2 tall and not built like Pluto off Popeye, I struggled a bit laying it out.

However I managed it and was left with approximately the same amount again. It would have gone round twice! Thankfully Mark and I managed to roll it and tie it around a plastic plumbing tube. Hammering a wooden stake into the ground we place the pluming pipe over the stake which prevented the fence from shorting out by touching the ground.

Great! Almost there, so moving the hens house into the new enclosure we herded the hens in.

As Mark was saying how pleased he was to be finished I looked up and with horror realised the fence wouldn’t be as protective from predators as we had thought. I suddenly realised on one side of the fence we had two compost bins and a pile of logs. On another the overhanging structures of my neighbours sheds. Aghh! Any of these structures could be an easy spring-board for a predator to jump into the run. We could have cried . All our hard work and now this! The light was fading and it was almost too dark to see what we were doing but we took the lids off the compost bins and moved the wood pile. At least that side would be more secure. unfortunately there was nothing at that time of night I could do with the sheds so we put the girls to bed and locked them up as safely as we could.

What a weekend but for all its makeshift likeness it is an effective and safe enclosure until we have finished the girls proper run, Phew!

 

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It’s official: Chickens prefer Weetabix!

Yes it’s true. In a straw poll (of my 15 hens) when presented with the choice of weetabix, cornflakes or rice crispies the girls preferred the weetabix.

Don’t panic I don’t usually pamper my girls by giving them branded breakfast cereals. Not even my kids get that! Ex battery hens prefer Weetabix and leave the cornflakes to last!.

It happened because I found some very out of date cereal packets in the family caravan. As you know I hate waste and as the cereals weren’t too full of horrid sthings like sugar, salt and fats that can harm chickens I let the girls have them! :0)

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Watch Jane Howorth from BHWT and Jimmy from Jimmy’s farm examine hens behaviour

If you’d like to know a bit more about how your hens think and why they behave the way they do have a look at this. It’s a 4 part programme that features Jimmy from Jimmy’s farm and Jane Howorth the founder of the British Hen Welfare Trust formerly the Battery Hen Welfare Trust.

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Product Review: Red Top Fly Traps

RedTopFlyTrap-Full

Chicken Flies!

This month has been horrendous for flies around our chickens. It doesn’t seem to matter how much I scrub clean and generally disinfect, whatever I do they are there. They aren’t in the hen-house thankfully just in the hen run especially on the hens droppings.

I hate killing anything without good reason, yes even flies. However something had to be done. My closest neighbour mentioned she was having a few fly issues. Whether attracted from my hen run or  from the rubbish that hadn’t been collected for weeks due to industrial action locally I don’t know. Whatever the cause I had to do something and quickly as it was not pleasant to be in the hen run any more.

Following a bit of research on fly control I decided to buy some Redtop fly traps.

The few reviews I’d read were positive. The package stated it was “the ultimate fly trap, catches up to 20,000 flies and is ideal for poultry farms” although we weren’t a farm this was music to my ears.

So following the instructions the trap was hung down the garden by the hen run.  Then all I had to do was wait and cross my fingers. It takes a few days for the bait to become activated but when it did ………..WOW!

Amazing results within a few hours.  Every time I checked the trap it had trapped more flies in it.  Now for the size of the pen and the number of flies we have it will take more than 1 trap to get rid of our problem . However now I know how effective the traps are I have put up a further 3 around the run and we’re watching this space. So far fantastic!

Positive aspects of the Redtop fly catcher -

I would highly recommend this product for anyone with animals. It’s simple to use, easy to set up, the bait lasts for up to 12 weeks apparently and when the bag is full it can be emptied into a compost bin as it is non toxic and biodegradable.

Less positive aspects of the Redtop fly catcher -

The only down side I could find is it has a pungent smell and the more dead flies it traps it seems the more it smells. This is not the product to use if you’re squeamish. Watching hundreds and thousands of flies struggling for their life can be a bit gruesome. However what is the alternative if you let them live and breed?

Conclusion

To say I was impressed is an understatment. It took a couple of days for the additive to become active but when it did our bag was 1/3 within days. This is not for the squemish as they are not pleasant to look at with all theose dead and dying flies but they are effective.

To find out more about these traps, click here RedTop Fly Catcher.

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Hens on the run…..

running_shoe

Liz has gone away for a few days… so I’ve been given the important task of looking after her girls…..

So, things started OK this morning. I put the hens food in their enclosure, before opening their coop (much easier as I’ve learnt you don’t get mobbed) and let them out a 5am before I dropped Liz off to catch the coach. Later on, I went to replace their water when I momentarily left the enclosure door open…. only just for a few seconds and that was it, 4 of them were gone, out and free.

So I resorted to all the chicken herding techniques I knew.  Including food bribery, chasing, waving arms, clucking, sneaking up on them, a little cursing, then a bit more cursing.  Did they want to go back into their enclosure……?!

Ten minutes later I finally managed to round them all up.  So, if you have any chicken sitting stories (especially the funny ones) or advice to boost my morale after this mornings escapade, I’d love to hear from you,

Mark

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The hazards of letting your hens free range

Foxglove

As a treat I thought I’d let my girls free range around the garden for the last few days.

I must admit this was mainly with the vain hope they would see my ever growing weed patch and clear it for me.

Having let them out to roam, I disappeared into the shed to do some “bits”.
A while later on leaving the shed, I found the girls had completely ignored the weed patch and instead were engrossed in searching for worms and “titbits” amongst my flower borders.

So now not only do I have to still weed my weed patch, I also have to replant what’s left of my foxgloves as well as sweep all the earth off the paths and back onto the borders.

I really ought to have known better really shouldn’t I?

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