More grass than e know what to do with

It’s either feast or famine with livestock. We have gone from very short nutrient free grass, to the richest fastest growing grass we have ever had.  After all these months of waiting for summer to start, it’s here, and it’s here with avengence!

We have now moved all our 5 week old goslings onto the grass. These little lawn mowers should tackle it just fine. We are hoping the with the right amount of geese on the land it should maintain itself. We have very few hens on the back field now. We have had a major revamp and the hens are all in pens closer to the shop and the land is now purely for grazing by the geese, sheep, goats, llama and Shetland. It does hens and ducks no good at all to be on long grass. The maximum length should really be about 4 inches high. Any longer and you risk it getting stuck in their throats. This can lead to impacted crop. The hens or ducks crop (bit below throat, but above stomach)  blockage can be caused by a long piece of grass, string, rubbish etc.

If this was ever to happen you would hold the hen or duck upset side down by her feet and squeeze the contents of the crop out through their mouth. It’s like a tennis ball in a sock. The same amount of pressure applied to the hen’s neck as you would the sock. All the contents should come out of their throat, if not a simple massage could dislodge the contents so they pass through the stomach and come out the the natural way.

The chances of this happening are extremely rare, buts it’s always best to be aware of the little fixes that are simple to do.

Now that the weeds are growing as faster than anything go easy on any weed killer you put down as it can be fatal to livestock as can any slug pellets you use.

I hope you all enjoy this wonderful time in your garden with your hens and ducks. After the winter we have been through this year, this summer has felt like a long time coming.

Feel free to call me if you need any advice of healthcare or husbandry


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Easter is upon us

Easter marks the start of our year, it all about chicks, goslings and ducklings (though we do start hatching large numbers a little earlier than this)

Easter is when we are expected to have chicks, running around in between daffodils and to be honest – yes that is what happens! We already have a fair few hens turn broody and stashing hatching eggs in inappropriate places!

We’ve also had lambs born (who smell delicious!) the grass is coming back fast and furious, and the finally the days have just suddenly appear to double in length, so evenings can spent sitting outside watching your hens potter around in the evening.

It’s all new and fresh now, it has to be the best time of the year. Lots of new shoots appearing in the fields, new flowers and sunshine!

The great thing is all your hens and ducks should be in full lay, so no excuse for not entering the Easter Competitions!

Why do talk about eggs and chicks at Easter…?

Eggs & Chicks are often associated with Easter because, in Pagan times, they were signs of Fertility and New Life. The Early Christians took over the meaning of New Life because it helped them remember the Resurrection and having New Life through Jesus.

Eggs were used by the ancient Persians and Egyptians to celebrate New Year, which happened for them in spring time. The eggs were coloured and eaten during the celebrations. In Europe, coloured eggs were used to celebrate Easter as house decorations. In Eastern European countries, such as Hungary and Romania, wooden eggs are beautifully painted in lots of different patterns. The patterns often have special names and meanings and help to tell the Easter Story.

Enjoy your wonderful spring time x

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Longer days :)

It’s all positive from now on. The days get longer, the weather gets warmer and fingers crossed we won’t be half as wet as were last year! (but, I say this every year!!)

If you’ve had hens moulting over winter, they should be looking lovely now and this is the time when you would expect them all to come back into lay. As I write this, we already have grass growing and daffs shooting though. I love this time of year, everything is new and fresh and we have a beautiful year to look forward to!

Our breeding building is ready for its birds we just need a bit of faith in the weather to remove the tractor in front holding down the roof!

We have been busy hatching over the winter to make sure we have enough chicks ready for this time of year, hatching is always a little harder when it’s cold, as the fertility can drop in the eggs on cold days. The only way to avoid this is to make sure all the eggs are picked up several times a day.

Healthcare wise, nothing extra at this time of year as long as you wormed them just before Christmas, might be time to add a few treats to the diet whilst we wait for the grass and greens to really grow and give them the extra nutrition they deserve.

If you are thinking about adding to your flock, now is a good time, with all the new green shoots coming up and extra day light, hens will be out more and less worried about the good old pecking order.

We have just rescues another 500 ex-batts, so we are looking for some homes for these lovely girls. If you have room in your coop – it could be the perfect Mother’s Day present!

Also, goslings are hatching 3rd week in March id any ones needs a couple of ‘cuddly lawn mowers!’

If anyone wants any advice at all, please feel free to email me at


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The Great British weather hits farming again.

Since Christmas the news has been dominated by floods across the UK. At one point the whole country seem to be on alert of flooding and now it seems to be the southern part. We are lucky enough not be affected anywhere near as bad as Somerset and surrounding areas. But still it only takes a week of rain to destroy a perfectly grassed field. What happens though when these areas flood, apart from the mess, and destruction it causes to the land, can people ever put livestock back on a field that could go under water in a few hours.

I remember October 2012 when half of our field when 1 ft under for 24 hours, we were picking up hens in the field at 2 am after the obligatory automated message from Environmental Health came. We managed to have horrendous flooding yet very few casualties. As a result of this, this year in September we emptied the field (apart from the ducks!) as my confidence in surrounding dykes draining our field has gone.

Our other animals such as goats, llama, sheep and our little Shetland can all incur foot problems if left on damp ground, so extra care is taken to treat them.

I’m not sure what would have to happen locally for me to trust my birds on parts of our land over winter. Our dykes stopped being maintained 7 years ago by the council, we’ve done what we can, but can only do our small section out of the hundreds of mile that surround us.

I feel for farmers who have lost a serious amount of livestock on these fields, or as a result of water had to bring them in and spent a fortune on their winter food. As we know farmers have to penny pinch at the best of times to make a living.

Fingers crossed this wet winter will make a hot, hot summer!

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Happy New Year.

We have made it through storms, floods and gale force winds! I know we are not out of the woods yet, but things always appear a little brighter as soon as we have past the darkest day.

Living on the coast, and when I say on the coast I really mean it, at the end of our garden/field is the sea, we really felt the horrendous gales, so much so, we brought everyone – except the geese and the ducks off the field (they are enjoying the wet!).

It’s all about planning now, there are lots of new projects this year. We’ve grown so fast over the last 7 years, that sometimes we need to step back realise how far we have come. Seven years ago we were a small hobby business and now we are the biggest domestic poultry farm within the UK with Nationwide delivery. This year is all about – Perfection. Carry on what we do, but do it better!

We will continue to breed the hens, ducks and geese, but do more Turkeys and start breeding the Rheas. Increasing the Rheas will be fun, Barbara and Tom (the adults) stand at 5-6ft tall and can be quite intimidating to customers (they are both big teddy bears really!)

 We’ve done really well with our pet lambs and pygmy goats this year so I think that should continue. The farm really comes to life after Christmas, all the animals get sick of the darkness, and just a slight increase in daylight and they can feel it. Especially the goats who need very little reason to bounce around.

This time of year can feel a bit doom and gloom to some, but when you’re a farmer it’s exciting, everything is getting ready to blossom again soon, we are past the worst. Farmers are so connected to the outside, that half an hour of sunshine can really make your day. 






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Merry Christmas 2013

Am I tempting fate by commenting on how mild our winter is so far! I hope not.

All going very well here. The field is still enduring its makeover and will hopefully be ready just after Christmas, with its new open plan look. And………. We still have plenty of grass. This will be the second consecutive year that we have actually got the grazing right. I’m starting to think that one day I might get this farming lark right.

Some of the goats are due to kid soon and have been moved to their winter housing (which is next to my house. I really love the goats near us and they are so funny and full of character. It’s great to look out of the kitchen window and see their cheeky faces smiling back – with one exception. Annie, this is the goat we bottle fed for three months, 3 years ago. When I get up in the morning (6am ish) I have to duck below the kitchen cupboard as I make my breakfast. If Annie thinks there is anyone up, all hell breaks loose and she cries till she gets her food, and trust me you give in quickly if you’re spotted, she has a fair pair of lungs on her.  

The hens don’t get up till day light which is about 8am at the moment, but we get odd cockerel crowing throughout the night. Not that it ever wakes me.  It’s a sound I love and to be honest I don’t hear it anymore unless someone points it out.

I’ve given up with the sheep. They will never graze and eat the grass – which is what I bought them for!.  They are far too keen to eat whatever else they can get their hands on. (but I have taught everyone of them to come up and kiss me!) There will be some sad faces when this years lambs get sent off.

Tom and Barbara (The Rheas) are very much the couple now, with Barb now wearing the trousers!

Larry the Llama is back on fox patrol and finally talking to me after the shocking hair cut he got in the summer.

We will be enjoying our Christmas this year at home surrounded by our amazing family and lovely animals – will we be having turkey?? I suppose so

I hope everyone has a truly magical and thank you for following this blog this year

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Working towards spring!

Being in the poultry industry means you always have to plan 6 months in advance, 6 months is how long it takes to get from a freshly laid egg to a point of lay hen. We need to know at all time we have enough older birds to meet demands. This means at this time of year we are working towards spring –  which brings a smile to my face, as I type this we are being battered by winds!

Even though these next 2-3 months may be our quietest as far as customers coming to the farm  are concerned, it’s our busy time in ‘farming’ we have closed the main field to the public so it can be ‘revamped’ before spring. We are having a road built and all the original pens have been pulled down. The new breeding unit is under way so you can see all the parent stock instead of being behind closed doors and foot baths. We have another driver achieve the highest qualification for livestock delivery you can get.

It is also the time when we start to pair up the breeding stock ready for next years chicks. This is fun watching new relationships form and very proud cockeral and drakes running around with a new flock of girls!

If the weather does turn bad, don’t be tempted to heat your coops, hens are strong enough to handle any bad weather as long as they are healthy and are in a draft free snug environment.

This can be the hardest time when you have poultry.  You don’t get many eggs, you never see them as they are asleep in the dark and you may leave for work and return in the dark – but it’s all worth it when just a week or so after Christmas, the eggs come back, the sun starts to shine and you get to spend time with your poultry again – like I said working towards spring!

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Change in the air

The temperature outside has just dropped a little. We can’t complain after the fantastic six months of great weather we have had. It truly has been an amazing summer. Looking after livestock and birds is so simple if the weather conditions are favourable.

You don’t need to worry about the cold outside when it comes to hens, duck and geese. As long as the temperature change is gradual they will adapt to it perfectly. You would not consider heating a hen or duck house over winter. You’ll make them soft!

The key to keeping your poultry snug this year is making sure the house is the correct size. We work it here at 6 birds per square meter. Keeping to this ratio means that they will heat their own house. I remember 3 or 4 years ago going on to our field and it was -16c. So freezing, yet all birds were so happy pottering in the snow and putting my head in each hen house warmed me up. 

The only time you should be concerned with the weather is when you put young birds out for the first time or ex-batts, Don’t forget, they may have never see rain before, or felt a gust of wind. I’ve seen youngsters just stand still and look into the air in shock when it rains, It’s like ‘chickin little thinking the sky was falling down’

When putting youngster or ex-batts outside for the first time always make sure you are on hand for that first shower or bad weather day to show them wear to go.

Whilst we have still got a few weeks of mild weather in front of us, now is the time to double check all the housing to make sure it is draft free and snug, replace any rotting roofs etc. Most importantly make sure your pop hole is facing away from the worst of the weather.

Hope you all enjoy this wonderful, colourful autumn x

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The dreaded fox

The nights are now drawing in. This can be a positive thing if you are someone like me and don’t want to stay up later to lock your birds up. I’m normally asleep by nine and these last few months can be especially tiring if you have a fox threat and are waiting to see the last little feathery bum settle on to its perch.

We have been fox free here for the last 4 years……until recently.


For many years we have relied upon the old wives tale of ‘testosterone keeps the foxes away’. So we have Larry (an entire male llama), Busby (stallion Shetland), Rowan (boar goat), Richard (my husband) and this years male lambs patrolling the field. Between the lot of them they have seemed to have put off any fox visitors.


Then, for the first time in a years, we had ragwort on the field (a very poisonous plant that is harmful to animals and deadly to horses) so we decided to spray the field to kill this weed. Unfortunately we had to remove all the animals off the field as its not safe for them to be there whilst the spray is down. Thankfully, the bird section of the field had remained ragwort free and didn’t need spraying.


At this point we had totally forgotten about foxes (even though its a key part of my poultry course!)

and it only took 3 weeks for our field to be discovered by foxes. Luckily due to the size of the field and all the little hiding points we only lost a couple of ducks. It could have been far worse though.


Within 24 hours the males (except Busby the horse) were all back out, and from then on we have had no more fox attacks to date. Busby is anxiously waiting to be returned to the main field but with him being an ‘orse he has to stay off for a bit longer.


The moral here being ………..when us poultry farmers (or any farmers) witter on about old wives tales or funny methods of doing things to prevent problems.

We are quite often right and we don’t even realise it ourselves.


Enjoy your Autumn


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Hatching and Vaccination

Hatching and Vaccinating

We hatch every few days here. Even in the depths of winter the incubators are still on hatching chicks and ducklings. We only hatch a fraction of what we do through out the warmer months, but with some breeds prefering to lay over winter its an opportunity we can’t miss out on.

Once the chicks are dry and fluffy they are vaccinated against Marek’s disease. This has to be done in the first 3 days to be affective. The Marek’s vaccine is the only one we inject. This just goes into the back of their neck. Then over the next 6 weeks we vaccinate against Infectious Bronchitis, Newcastle’s and Salmonella

These vaccines all go in the water, making it very easy for us. The cost of us vaccinating is very little as all vaccines come if vile of 1000’s doses making it cost effective for us as we might vaccinate that many at one time. But, for a hobbiest to vacinate is can be quite pricey. It may cost £8-30 per chick if they are doing half a dozen or so.

Our advice is, if you are hatching your own not to vaccinate (unless there is already a disease in the flock that you can’t avoid) Bringing up just a few chicks at time correctly meant that If there was anything wrong healthwise it would be easy to treat. Its when you have 1000’s treating them becomes a problem. Most illness that poultry can get can be nipped in the bud if spotted early enough. The the key thing to do is just keep an eye on your small flock and rear them well. Strong birds will not get illnesses. Fell free to give us a call if you need any healthcare advice

Tel: 01253 814000


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