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Keeping hens and ducks chat.

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  • edwink
    edwink Posts: 2,978 Forumite
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    Nice bit of shading for them whilst the sun was beaming down and it was so warm here for them





    **3.36 kWp solar panel system, 10 x Ultima & 4 x Panasonic solar panels, Solaredge Inverter **Biomass boiler stove for cooking, hot water & heating **2000ltr Rainwater harvesting system for loo flushing - **Hybrid Toyota Auris car **1 ex-battery hen - RIP Pingu, Hoppy & Ginger ****Hens & Ducks**** chat thread. http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5282209
  • edwink
    edwink Posts: 2,978 Forumite
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    edwink said:
    Talking of penguins my Indian Runner duck that some of you will remember resembled one, bless her. 


    Having a trip down memory lane today.  This was little Pingu our Indian Runner duck back in 2020
    **3.36 kWp solar panel system, 10 x Ultima & 4 x Panasonic solar panels, Solaredge Inverter **Biomass boiler stove for cooking, hot water & heating **2000ltr Rainwater harvesting system for loo flushing - **Hybrid Toyota Auris car **1 ex-battery hen - RIP Pingu, Hoppy & Ginger ****Hens & Ducks**** chat thread. http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5282209
  • edwink
    edwink Posts: 2,978 Forumite
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    Little Biscuit is still doing well.  So pleased with her progress and bless her she plods about the place and spends timing sitting in the sunshine with her wing outstretched taking in the warmth of the sun.  Hens are not silly and always know where the best place is to have a snooze especially when the sun is shining.  Her appetite is still good and she is enjoying her extra treats. She has extra as she isn't laying anymore so although she still has some pellets for essential vitamins and minerals she has a lot of different foods besides now. 

    She is 6 years and 6 weeks old now and I must remember to let the BNWT know about our little special hen at some point.

    I've added some old pictures above in some previous posts and will add some more soon.

    Hope everyone is keeping well.

    Edwink x
    **3.36 kWp solar panel system, 10 x Ultima & 4 x Panasonic solar panels, Solaredge Inverter **Biomass boiler stove for cooking, hot water & heating **2000ltr Rainwater harvesting system for loo flushing - **Hybrid Toyota Auris car **1 ex-battery hen - RIP Pingu, Hoppy & Ginger ****Hens & Ducks**** chat thread. http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5282209
  • edwink
    edwink Posts: 2,978 Forumite
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    And......  Biscuit is still doing well, bless her.  Her appetite is so good and she munches away especially on her treat food.  Today's offerings were a little peace of poached egg and some tiny pieces of toast.  Later she had some chopped dates and yogurt which she loves.  Plus, she has been nibbling away at the grass this afternoon.

    We took her back to her run earlier than normal because the weather hasn't been too good here today but the forecast for the next 4 days looks much better with some sunny weather so she can stay out much longer and enjoy the sunshine too. Hens do like to sunbathe no matter how old they are.

    We had a fox here lately which is slightly worrying but we spotted it as the lights went on by the house and up the top and Mr Edwink chased it off and boy did it shoot off quickly.  Hope that has scared it off giving chase to it, it was only a young one but still we will keep a closer eye on things over the coming weeks. The blasted thing jumped over a 6ft fence plus shrubs higher up and over the lot. We are vigilant anyway and it won't get in to the hens run but still don't like the thought of it hanging around the run when Biscuit is safely tucked up at night. We keep her close the house in the daytime with us as we can see clearly what is happening out there and she never wanders off as we have a gate we can close so she can't wander back out to her run on her own. She has a preferred spot to sit near the house so we know where she is and she is visible which is good.  But, you never know with foxes even in the daylight. 

    Edwink x
    **3.36 kWp solar panel system, 10 x Ultima & 4 x Panasonic solar panels, Solaredge Inverter **Biomass boiler stove for cooking, hot water & heating **2000ltr Rainwater harvesting system for loo flushing - **Hybrid Toyota Auris car **1 ex-battery hen - RIP Pingu, Hoppy & Ginger ****Hens & Ducks**** chat thread. http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5282209
  • Cheery_Daff
    Cheery_Daff Posts: 15,780 Forumite
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    Aw, thank you for the Biscuit update edwink 😊😊 Both Mr Cheery and I love hearing about her exploits, as you know 😊 So sorry to hear about your fox, always a scary prospect, but I'm glad Mr edwink was on hand. Love the sound of Biscuit having her favourite spot. I was up near the dust baths our chickens made today. The perfect spot, under some large conifers, right near their run 😊 i always have happy memories of them scratching round there 😊

    Love to hear about Biscuits treats 😊 Ours too loved scrambled egg, and yogurt was always a favourite. Dont think ours ever had dates though, lucky Biscuit!
  • timehastoldme
    timehastoldme Posts: 363 Forumite
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    Hi, we've moved out into the countryside and have a little bit of space and wanted to add either hens or runner ducks. We have a little 10 and a half year old terrier who'll need to adjust to new creatures (grey muzzle, naughty as a puppy). We're torn, we'd decided ducks but the more I read about the mess the more uncertain I got. Was wondering what peoples recommendations were? Chickens or ducks!?

    There's a small orchard we can set them up in, we would fence this off for their sake. I liked the idea of runner ducks helping keep the slugs down in the wider garden  but my husband prefers the idea of hens in their own space separate from our nutty little dog.
  • edwink
    edwink Posts: 2,978 Forumite
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    Hi, we've moved out into the countryside and have a little bit of space and wanted to add either hens or runner ducks. We have a little 10 and a half year old terrier who'll need to adjust to new creatures (grey muzzle, naughty as a puppy). We're torn, we'd decided ducks but the more I read about the mess the more uncertain I got. Was wondering what peoples recommendations were? Chickens or ducks!?

    There's a small orchard we can set them up in, we would fence this off for their sake. I liked the idea of runner ducks helping keep the slugs down in the wider garden  but my husband prefers the idea of hens in their own space separate from our nutty little dog.

    Hi

    Welcome to the hens and ducks thread

    It is a difficult one in deciding whether to get hens, ducks or both. With ourselves here we had initially decided to get rescue hens and then maybe get some ducks at a later stage. But, our minds were made up for us by a young relative who parents allowed her to get 4 ducks from a farm and she kept them in a rabbit hutch in their garage which was totally unsuitable, obviously.  So we took them in here although we had set ourselves up for hens first. We just made them a house to sleep in and of course they needed water to swim in so as a neighbour was refurbishing their bathroom we asked if we could have their old bath to use until we had made a proper pond for them, then later the pond was built.  It wasn't meant to happen this way at all but it worked ok and soon after we got our first 12 rescue hens as previously planned.

    Out of hens and ducks, hens are much easier in our experience to care for and look after. They need a lot less space, make a lot less mess. Most people prefer hens eggs to ducks as ducks eggs are quite rich and some say an acquired taste. We personally feel hens eggs are more versatile in cooking but some say ducks eggs are brilliant for cake baking as give a much better lift to sponges etc. Ducks are extremely messy poop wise, seriously messy, as they do cow pats that are very sloppy and not easy to clear up, whereas hens poop can easily be scooped up as are much smaller by comparison and a tidy little pile. Our ducks were free range so could go foraging wherever they wanted to but they wreck grass that's for sure with not only their beaks but also their very watery cow pats they do. There is no mowing grass once it is completely splatted with poo as it has to completely dry first. The rain will do some of the job and wash some away but there is a lot that doesn't and it just sits smelly and wet. 

    Despite what i have mentioned above we still increased our number of ducks over the years and hens too as had a good mix of ground surfaces around the place with paths, gravel, stones, short and long grassed areas.  The best for ducks was the stoned or gravel areas as rain washed quite a bit away, only when it rained of course. We had to wash the paths down every single night as we would have had nowhere to walk ourselves if we didn't. Hens poo is easily stepped over but ducks poo is very different and more frequent. We had 20 hens, a cockerel and 9 ducks at the same time and they all mixed well so it is possible to have a mix of both. But, the ducks poo was by far the most messy and time consuming for us here. The pond was a really good addition for the ducks but impossible to keep clean because ducks will poo wherever they are standing. It used to take us a whole day to drain the pond, clean it out thoroughly and refill it but disheartening that the ducks would spot it being refilled so soon and in they would go and poop in it before it was even half full of water again.

    Of course this is just our experience here having kept both hens and ducks. And. would we do it all again? Yes, we would but would limit the amount of ducks we kept to maybe four at most but will definitely being getting more hens in the future.  We are currently down to just one little rescue girl and when she has gone to the big dust bath in the sky we will have a break from keeping them. 

    Hope that is some help to you.

    Edwink x
    **3.36 kWp solar panel system, 10 x Ultima & 4 x Panasonic solar panels, Solaredge Inverter **Biomass boiler stove for cooking, hot water & heating **2000ltr Rainwater harvesting system for loo flushing - **Hybrid Toyota Auris car **1 ex-battery hen - RIP Pingu, Hoppy & Ginger ****Hens & Ducks**** chat thread. http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5282209
  • timehastoldme
    timehastoldme Posts: 363 Forumite
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    That's perfect! We inherited a gross shed on our old allotment that had housed chickens but never been cleaned and it was horrific and put OH off for a long time, I think cow pat splat ducks would also maybe give him the horrors so we will start gentle with a few wee hens!
  • edwink
    edwink Posts: 2,978 Forumite
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    edited 15 May at 10:51PM
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    That's perfect! We inherited a gross shed on our old allotment that had housed chickens but never been cleaned and it was horrific and put OH off for a long time, I think cow pat splat ducks would also maybe give him the horrors so we will start gentle with a few wee hens!
    We inherited our shed too for our hens and it was perfect once cleaned and refitted together and gave them plenty of room.  To give you an idea of ours  it is 6ft long by 4ft wide so we put perches across the 4ft width and we added and took away perches as needed when our hen numbers went up or down. Hens will huddle together in the Winter but like to spread out a bit in the summer. The perches are about 3ft off the ground and underneath we have Lino flooring and shaved straw above that so it is easy to sweep up their droppings and then wash the floor with a mop and a little disinfectant. We leave the floor to dry naturally and replace with fresh shavings after each floor wash. In the summer we wash the floor once a week and in the winter once a month. The pine scented shavings deter the flies as they don't like the scent.  For the perches we used 2" x 1" wooden batons with the edges shaved down for comfort for the hens little feet, these batons are removable so we can take them outside and scrape the poo off of them, sometimes when poo dries it is a bit dusty and it is best not to breath in this dust so scraping off outside is always a good idea and only takes a few minutes to do. We use a wall paper scraper to do this as they are fairly sharp and it gets all the dried poo off efficiently. Once a month in the summer we remove all the perches and lay them on the ground and hose them down and scrub them with a broom and a little washing up liquid and then just stand them up to dry for the day before putting them back in place ready for the hens before they go to bed. These wooden batons sit in squared off "U" shaped slots on either side so just slot in and stay in place even if the hens wriggle about. Hens do most of their droppings at night so the floor will get messy but the shavings help massively with this and it keeps the lino fairly clean. We made a wooden ladder out of batons for the hens to get access to the perches. At the top of each side of the ladder we attached a metal coat hanging bracket so the ladder hooks over the very front perch and doesn't move when the hens are climbing up to the perches. This ladder is also easy to remove to take outside for cleaning and washed once a month and just left to air dry and put back before bedtime.

    Rather than have the hens nesting boxes on the inside of the shed as we didn't want the poo droppings on them we made and attached a 15 inch deep x 4ft in length nesting box and we cut out a large opening in the bottom of the shed on the left hand side for access for them. For the hens safety we covered the whole of the shed and the attached nesting box in chicken wire to make it fox proof, including the whole roof. The shed also sits on a concrete base so foxes or other wildlife can not dig under the shed to get in there. It is very safe for them at night that way as we back on to a Common where we know there are foxes and badgers. We also put a ventilation square hole on the right hand side about half way along the 6ft length of the shed at the top to help keep it airy in there for them whilst shut in at night.

    For the door we kept the main shed door the size it was as it gave us perfect access for cleaning and not having crawl in there to do this. At the bottom of this door we cut a smaller door size out of the bottom and added a little door on hinges for them to go in and out when they wanted too.  They like privacy and quietness when laying eggs and happily go in and out of their little door. Both of these doors are shut at night and have attached wooden latches, again for the girls safety.  One wooden latch on their little hen door and 3 wooden latches on the main shed door.

    We don't leave food in there for them overnight ever as this would attract rats etc. but we do have a tallish tub of water in there for them if they need a drink whilst in there all night, especially useful if it is hot during the summer months.

    For a feeding trough idea you might be interested in what we did for our girls. It is cheap and cost very little and have lasted so long. We used an old clean piece of black guttering and clipped the end pieces on so the their food and pellets don't fall off the sides. So it was off the ground at hens chest height we screwed this length of guttering onto a cut chunk of tree trunk on both ends. We made 3 of these as we had so many hens at one time and took away the ones not in use when the hen numbers went down or replaced these again when numbers went up. They will happily stand in a row and eat from these troughs, no problem. If there is any food left at the end of the day when we locked the hens up for the night we just tip the trough up in to a container to put away for the night and they have those left over pellets if any are there the following morning with fresh pellets added. There is no waste that way. 

    Hope this also helps.

    Edwink 
    **3.36 kWp solar panel system, 10 x Ultima & 4 x Panasonic solar panels, Solaredge Inverter **Biomass boiler stove for cooking, hot water & heating **2000ltr Rainwater harvesting system for loo flushing - **Hybrid Toyota Auris car **1 ex-battery hen - RIP Pingu, Hoppy & Ginger ****Hens & Ducks**** chat thread. http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5282209
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