Our bantams have a great life in their run. They have 2 posh Eglus to lay eggs and sleep in at night, plenty of bark chips to scratch about in and even a bantam topiary, lovingly created by Phil, but is yet to grow a head!
However bantams can jump and when one starts decimating the plant life, the others join in and now our specimen Sycoparrotia semidecidua ‘purple haze’ is suffering defoliation of its lower branches.
In an attempt to distract them we treated them to a cabbage suspended just out of reach.
It kept them all entertained for a while but not long enough to allow the plants to recover; they have the attention span of a goldfish! Back to the drawing board….
Update from DEFRA is that the H5N8 strain of avian flu has been confirmed at a poultry farm in Lincolnshire, at a premises in Carmarthenshire, Wales, and at a premises near Settle in North Yorkshire, and restrictions are in place. The same strain has also been found in wild birds in England, Scotland and Wales. Risks to public health are very low and avian flu does not pose a food safety risk for UK consumers.
We are currently required by law to keep our bantams separate from wild birds, so we have moved the bird feeders well away and are keeping ours within their Eglu run. This requirement (the Prevention Zone) has now been extended until 28 February 2017.
We’ve ordered a clear plastic run cover in the hope that at least they will get some daylight (and perhaps some sunshine) on their little faces while they are confined.
We hoped that we’d have some chicks by now. George sat for another 3 weeks, 6 weeks in total and she’s ropey to say the least, having plucked out most of her breast feathers and looking skinny due to not eating properly in anticipation of the big hatch. All to no avail. Not a single chick to be seen and having waited 3 days beyond the due date, the eggs were removed. The other girls are delighted as they are now allowed back into the purple Eglu and Georgette and Katty Clean Doors are now laying eggs in George’s empty nest just to prove their point ! Hopefully George will get back to her old self now she’s getting the sun on her face.
Our neighbour said she will get some new stock and we can have another go at hatching chicks next year. Meanwhile, this weekend we have been to Manchester to see our parents and on the way home dropped in at Cheshire Bantams and Silkies It’s a small business run by Ed who collected an array of awards with his prize winning birds recently at the Cheshire Show. We came away with a black Silkie, 2 Blue Mottled Pekins and 2 Cuckoo Pekins.
Naming them was a challenge! The mop-headed Silkie is ‘Fizzie’ named after a 1970’s moped the Yamaha FS1E. The Two mottled blues are ‘Stilton’ and (Dorset Blue) ‘Vinney’ after classic blue cheeses and the Cuckoos are ‘Chris’ and ‘Fliss’ after characters in a 1970 s sit-com set in Manchester called The Cuckoo Waltz.
They are now happily ensconced in the pink Eglu and we will keep them there for about 5 weeks until they can hold their own with the others.
Our neighbour entrusted us (or rather George our sitting bantam) with another 8 precious eggs. We checked them on Monday and one was crushed which left 7. The other 2 bantams seem to have lost their broodiness and so we excluded them from the Eglu completely to avoid any more ‘accidents’ and ‘fowl deeds’. They were a bit miffed to say the least with the quality of the alternative accommodation on offer and Saturday evening I spent nearly half an hour chasing them round the little wooden run loaned by our neighbour, shepherding them in like a scene from ‘one man and his dog’ through a very small sliding door with wide arms and a garden cane. The same happened on Sunday but thankfully by Monday they’d got the message and put themselves to bed in the temporary run, tempted in by a trail of corn.
The trouble with the run is it’s quite low, so Katty Clean Doors the Silkie, being tall, has to crouch when she’s inside. It’s also not very waterproof and when it rains the food gets wet and so do the girls as they don’t seem to have the sense to go inside the ‘bedroom’ section to shelter. If we are successful with the eggs there is the potential for us to have growing chicks through into autumn and winter and life outside the Eglu would be very miserable for Georgette and Katty Clean Doors in the other run.
As luck would have it, a second hand but still boxed ‘as new’ Eglu with run became available and so we decided to treat the ladies to an upgrade. Very posh it is too. I hope the girls appreciate the lengths we have gone to as this has been couriered 439.4 miles from Cornwall. It arrived this Thursday afternoon…..
They seemed very interested initially.
George was having a break from sitting and was first to venture inside.
She approved but is now back in the purple Eglu on her eggs. The other two are now sleeping pretty in pink !
We’re not having much success hatching our neighbours eggs. Having waited another 3 weeks, of the 8 eggs she gave us, 3 hatched successfully, 3 were fully formed but never made it out of the eggs and 2 were a no show.
This time we excluded the grey Lavender Pekins and they spent most of the 3 weeks running round the outside trying to get in. Phil checked on Monday and found the Silkie finishing off one of the chicks. That left 2. The same day the Silkie was out in the run with the remaining 2, one of which strayed too close to the edge of the run and was attacked through the mesh by the evil Gray Twins. Phil had to despatch it.
That left us with one. The Silkie and last chick were transferred to the other run which has solid sides. The next day however It had jumped up into the water dish and drowned.
Many lessons learned. We are hoping to give it one last try……
Hard to believe it’s three weeks ago that we put another 8 eggs under our Silkie bantam and this weekend is the big hatch. This time we are better prepared as last time all three bantams piled on the nest with lethal consequences. This is natural behaviour as the presence of a clutch of eggs in the nest and a broody hen makes all the others broody too. Unfortunately, the three hatched chicks were smothered.
Yesterday once the hatch was underway we left just one of the bantams on the eggs in the Eglu and the other two were turfed out. Sounds cruel I know because now all three are broody and all want to be mum. We have a small spare run so the two Lavender Pekins had somewhere safe to go last night but have been frantically running round the outside of the Eglu trying to work out how to get back in. There currently camped outside the Eglu.
Regarding who we decided should be mum, we took advice from Kelly at Canny Chicken Co and she said the Silkie would be best. It seems fair considering she has been sitting for 6 weeks now. The chicks will imprint on the first moving they see which will be Skelf (see post ‘words for snow’ in Bantams category). We will keep them in the Eglu run safe from the Jackdaws until they are large enough to return to our neighbour. Fingers crossed !
And by this morning …..
Lift off…… Houston we have three chicks !
Three tiny Belgian Bearded D’Anvers.
These are a rare breed true Bantam as they don’t have a full size counterpart. The Bearned or Barbu d’Anvers is one of the oldest bantam breeds, and is thought to have originated in the province of Antwerp (French: Anvers) in northern Flanders. It is the only Belgian bantam breed not threatened with extinction. In the United States it may be called the Antwerp Belgian or Belgian Bearded d’Anvers.
Hopefully by tomorrow there will be more in the nest. Watch this space !
Disaster! The Collared Dove chicks are no more. Their precariously balanced nest had tipped off the branch and Phil found the chicks dead on the ground beneath.
The Bantam chicks are also no more. The two other hatchlings were squished under the 3 adults and young Chesney (as in ‘the one and only’) suffered a similar fate. We now have another 8 eggs under the Lavender Pekin and a spare run to transfer them into once the hatch is under way, which should be around 9th July.
The Blackbirds have fared a little better. Although only 3 of the 5 have made it, they were large enough to be ringed by our local bird expert and neighbour Mike Carrier. However, one chick leaped off the nest and disappeared. We feared the worst but Phil located it right over the other side of the garden. We returned it to the nest but having had a taste of freedom, it was straight out again and hopped off into the undergrowth. It has been calling and Mrs Blackbird has been feeding it on the ground. It won’t be long before the others join it.
Mr and Mrs Sparrow are doing very well in their box and I managed to catch them on camera Saturday morning.