Meekle’s Blog – An Insight into Downsizing

September 4, 2009, 7:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Its a dirty word! over the last day or two we have lost a couple of chicks in the grower pen. They show no signs of any disease, but when i open up the runs in the morning there is one dead on the floor.

We found one early in the evening last night, and it is still alive, but showing signs of a twisted neck and paralysis in the legs. I have been onto the following website, ( went through the symptoms and came up woth the diagnosis of botulism.

Checking through symptoms, it would appear that they have botulism. This is a disease caused primarily by eating stale food containing the bacteria or from transference of disease from a carrier such as rodents and flies.

As we are coming into the autumn, the amount of rodents here has increased if teh dead bodies left by the cats is anything to go by, and since the farmer moved his cows into the field adjacent to us, the amount of flies here has increased exponentially.

We have also had a deluge of rain over the last couple of weeks, making the runs into a mud bath so the chance of spoiled food has increased. Therefore we are progressing along the lines of botulism and will treat accordingly. Treatment of the drinking water with epsom salts helps and a good clean down of the runs is in order. The new grower run is 80% complete and will be completed this weekend so we can start to move the chicks into a bigger cleaner run to break the cycle.

I have placed up plenty of “red top” fly traps to remove the fly loading and the cats are on patrol! hopefully we can nip this in the bud, but since last week i have lost 4 growers – 1xcream legbar, 2xsilkie and a pekin bantam. Apart from the tragic loss of their lives, on a commercial basis that’s £60 value of birds gone up in smoke!

speaking of which, if you find yourself in a similar situation, please do not be tempted to bury the birds. Rats and mice will only dig up the carcass and carry the infection.  Please remove the bodies to the waste bin if it is being collected that day or alternatively (and preferably) incinerate the carcasses.

General Update
September 3, 2009, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Well folks it seems ages since i have been o here posting away. it has been very very hectic here. our current stock list stands at 120+ chickens and around 20 turkeys, mainly all Slates but a few bronze chucked in for good measure!

We have a new addition too, a small ferret called Phoebe. She is a good worker by all accounts, however she is only 8 weeks old so we wont stress her out with work just yet! The idea behind her is really a pet, but she can work by going under the Bird sheds occasionally and clearing out any rats that might be hiding under there. coming up to winter so rats and mice are on the lookout for a secure, warm place to hole up with a good supply of food – this will be where the feed shed is then or even the chicken houses themselves.

Hatching is running down now, with the shortened days the viability of the eggs as fertile decreases so we cant guarantee much in the way of hatches, however we have bought in some new eggs to hatch, some light Sussex and some cream legbar. It is intended that the light sussex get put with our new indian game cockerel in the summer to produce good fleshed birds with a wide breast (inherited from the Indian game) which should make good eaters! as laying hens, Indian game are very poor as they lay around 1 per week, so using the cock to bring in the genes is more reliable.

We have purchased more incubators, this time both Brinsea make (which we feel are the best make) and both automatic. we have had a few hatch now with leg conditions and we wondered if it was to do with sub standard turning or the eggs, so we have employed a self turner now which should rule that one out.

Our last hatches should be on the 19th and the 25th September. We will need to carry them through the winter in the warm, so might clear out teh conservatory to harden them off a bit!

having said that, if we had a good barn we could hatch all through the winter as the birds would then be ready fir the spring season. we could then get the jump on the other birds and be ready at POL in sporing. But we need to be mindful of what it costs to put heat into the birds over the winter against what we make back on them otherwise it wont be worth the effort!

regarding veg, our cauliflowers were wiped out due to the wet, they just rotted off, our cabbages got nailed by hundreds of caterpillars and the kale went the same way! the beans have been good and we are praying that there will be enough sunlight left to ripen off the last of the tomatoes otherwise its yet another batch of green tom chutney to be made.

the bees have started to close down the hive for the winter. they started by kicking out the drones, and now the flying is getting less. I have inspected the hive and there is just about enough honey to see them through the winter, so i have placed a syrup feeder into the hive (via a spare super) so that there is a back up supply of food should they need it.

well, i suppose its time to start building up the log store for the winter, you aint ready for winter here if you have less than three sides of the house surrounded by logs!