Monday, April 16, 2012

Poultry Ponderings!

Time flies, I feel guilty for not posting more often but it just seems like a few days since I last posted, am I turning into Rip Van Winkle??!! Blogger has changed since my last posting so I had to find my way around my own blog! The weather is very changable here, sunny days, freezing nights ,wind, rain in fact typically Irish. We put in a green manure over the winter months it was our first time using it and results were inconclusive to say the least.This one was in early and grew fine, here it is just coming into flower which if my memory serves me right shoud be cut down now. Green manures are supposed to help stop leaching of nutrients over the winter months through wind and rain, using a legume sets nitrogen in the soil for later crops.It is now recommended to put in a green manure between crops, not leaving the ground bare at any season for any length of time as it also keeps down the weeds and saves some work in the weeding dept.
The same patch after I cut the tops down with a clippers, it will be left to wilt down and then dug into the soil to prepare the ground for the next crop.
This was a different green manure which was put in later and did not grow quite as well but there are no weeds visible either so maybe it worked on some level?!
Zwena has begun workshops on the allotments open to all not just the allotment holders, if anyone is on Facebook just look for Hydro Farm allotments and workshops where there are regular updates on what is going on and planned. I attended the first hen keeping workshop on Sat morning and found it most interesting and informative. I was the only 'plotter' there, the others were members of the public.The workshop was given by a young man who began keeping a few chickens as a child and now has a very good businness going breeding hens, ducks, geese etc.Here he is explaining the different breeds and which one to choose when buying . I bought my 4 ladies from a seller at a Farmer's market last year and until this guy mentioned it, I DID NOT KNOW HENS HAD TO BE WORMED REGULARLY!! I can almost hear some of you clucking (sorry bad pun)and shaking your heads at my stupidity.I knew dogs had to be wormed but it never entered my head that hens needed worming, no one ever mentioned it in polite conversation! They also need regular delousing for mites especially something called a red mite. I bought the deworming treatment today (not cheap)!I got a herbal treatment which I would think is more organic, it will be put into their drinking water for 3 consecutive days each month.The benfit of the herbal treatment is the eggs can be collected and used as normal whereas with the chemical treatment which is administered orally to each hen there is an egg withdrawal period of 7 days. Once I get this treatment completed the mite delousing will be done, my poor hens won't know what hit them they will be getting so much (unwanted) attention! I would have loved a course like this before I bought my hens and if anyone is thinking of getting even 2 hens then I would strongly recommend looking for a course like this. My ladies are Rhode Island red Hybrids which I learned are the stock battery hen as they are regular layers but because of this only have a life span of just 2 to 3 years?! Different breeds lay less and live longer so it is worth deciding how many eggs you actually need in a week and buying a breed that fulfills that need and you can enjoy your hens for longer because they do have personalities and provide hours of amusement with their antics. My ladies are getting a new hen house shortly which I am working on at the moment, they have taken to living in their new quarters quite well apart from the odd foray over the wire by the same one hen. If she gets out when I am not at home she comes running to the patio door as soon as she knows I am home and waits to be picked up and put back over the wire fence.