Belgian d’Uccle

Chook Q&A September

Number 3 – Better late than never 😉

Q: My Chicken I think is supposed to have yellow legs but they are not, can I make them yellow?
A: There is no way to change for example grey or white chook legs to yellow. Breeders often feed their already yellow legged breeds extra corn and the like leading up to poultry exhibition shows as it will increase the intensity of the yellowness of the legs which is desirable to the judges eyes. This can also give birds with white plumage a yellow sheen to their feathers which, may be undesirable if showing.

Silkies make great children’s pets due their calm and friendly nature  –  and they are one of the best choices when looking for a chook breed that can free range without destroying the garden.

Q: Free ranging and egg laying: When should I let my chooks out so that they still lay in the nesting boxes and not around the yard?
A: keeping your chooks in until around mid morning is a pretty good way to be sure most eggs have been laid in their nesting boxes. I can let mine out early and they are very good in that they return to the pen and lay in their nesting boxes. Of course there can always possibly be the odd bird that will make a nest elsewhere in the yard but I have only really found that is something my turkeys and Guinea fowl have been prone to over the years.

Barnevelder hen
Barnevelders lay the most beautiful dark brown eggs, being a large breed they need a reasonable sized backyard to free range in especially if you are having parts of the yard allocated to growing a range of edibles.

Q: How can I make my new puppy or existing dog chook friendly?
A: This really depends on a lot of factors, breed or dog, age of dog, training given and temperament. Even the best of dogs with years of training I have found can have moments of weakness when they see a chicken running across the yard and then some dogs with no training at all will completely ignore and take no interest in your chooks at all. Each case has to be dealt on an individual basis.

Belgian d’Uccle bantams
Belgian d’Uccle bantams come in a myriad of colours and are the friendliest of little chooks.

Q: Kitchen scraps for chooks:
A: Kitchen scraps such as vegetable, fruit, breads, pasta, meats are fine, as long as nothing is off or going rotten. Avoid high salt or sugar-loaded items. Kitchen scraps alone to not provide a complete diet for chooks, so a well-balanced poultry feed is a must along with fresh greens and clean drinking water. Vegetable scraps can be cooked before being given to chooks but it is not necessary.

Feather loss on a white hen
Feather loss on hens can be caused a range of things, moulting, mites, lice, stress, bullying, rooster activity and inadequate diet.

Q: Feather loss when laying?
A: Upping the protein in your poultry’s diet is often of benefit if feather loss is occurring only at peak laying times and all other possible causes of feather loss have been ruled out such as, moulting, mites, lice, rooster activity & bullying. Protein is an important part of a laying hens diet and most prepared poultry feeds have good levels of protein within them. There are some feed mixes that have higher percentages of protein and it maybe necessary to switch to one of these during peak egg production. Foraging for insects in the garden is another great way to allow chooks to add a bit more protein in their diet.

Araucana hens
A pair of our Araucanas the blue egg layers can be quite mischievous in the garden, finding all manner of ways to get into cordoned off areas where I would rather not have them exercising and stretching their legs.

Q: Best breeds for free ranging in gardens –
A: Some of the smaller breeds of poultry can be a better choice when wanting chooks free ranging in the garden but not having your garden destroyed. Pekins, Silkies, Old English Game, Belgians are reasonably good choices. Guinea fowl can be good, as they also remove lots insects and ticks as well but in suburbia they are a probably a tad problematic due to the amount of noise they make.

Belgian d’Uccle
Belgian d’Uccle bantams are another good choice of breed when it comes to free ranging without destruction. Small seedlings and certain greens will still be fair game so be sure to protect appropriately.

Q: My Chook has a sore leg and is limping
A: This can be caused by numerous possibilities – jarring of the leg from possibly from perches being too high, bumble foot this is a lump that can occur between the toes of chook and, injury to foot, cut, prickle, stepped on, bite of some description even certain diseases can have limping as a symptom.  Correct diagnosis is critical and then treat accordingly.

white Chinese Silkie
This is a pic of Princess our white Chinese Silkie when she was a tad younger and she is a much loved family pet.

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