Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Chicken Run building and my lovely little Ex Battery Girls

Hi Everyone,

well its been a busy couple of weeks here and I haven't had a chance to catch up in blogland or write a post. But I wanted to spare an hour today and share what's been happening here. Saturday afternoon we drove to Dorset to pick up our Ex Battery hens and I have to say that no matter how much you research and read and see photo's nothing can really prepare you for the sorry sight that greeted us as we entered the re homing barn. My eyes were drawn straight to a run with some really poorly looking hens inside these girls had been separated and were going to be taken home by the volunteers to be looked after and hopefully brought back to health and life they looked so sad and vacant.  We waited in line with our dog crate and cat basket and watched as the ladies caught the hens and handed them to their new owners when it was our turn the first hen that came into my arms was such a featherless and bold little girl who reduced both myself and the volunteer to tears I was asked if i minded a bold one NO I said.  I named her Rosie, five more girls came home with us 2 more in a pretty poor state with hardly any feathers and bold and 2 girls although they had a couple of bold patches actually looked like hens. Our girls were kept in a barn that was dark and was one of the worst they had seen. They had Flat white combs, bold bodies, scared vacant eyes and trimmed beaks and they broke my heart.

But before I let you meet them I thought I would share their new home with you and how we built it. We obviously wanted to make it as fox proof as we could. Here is where we started.

If you remember I levelled over the area as it had been used for dumping the rubbish out of the hedge rows.  Nearly everything we used has been from recycled materials. While at Mole Valley farmers collecting some hen bedding and feed my husband made an inquiry as to where we could buy Henra's metal fence panels like the ones they had fencing off a goods area. The man he spoke to said its your lucky day were selling them off cheap next week as we no longer need them. So we bought 10 including some fixtures ( we didn't use in the end as they left to many gaps in the sides ) for £60. And between my husband and my best friends husband on a wet Saturday morning they put them up digging them into the ground 1 foot deep. They also put them onto the floor of the run and also on the top as a roof., using thick black cable ties to hold them together as that way there were no gaps. Then my husband and myself stared getting the rest sorted out.

In the garden we have a load of things that were taken from the house and also my husbands friend has his own gardening business he dumped a few fence posts and panels that were going to be burnt on the fire we rescued those posts and used them as a frame for the main door and also at the end of the run.  Can you see those stone blocks top right photo well we used those around the inside of the run at the sides to stop Mr fox and also to help to keep the chipping in but will get to that in a minute.

Top right photo you can see the recycled posts for he door frame, we bought a slightly broken fence panel as they are cheaper it cost £15 and a door that was in the broken area to nothing wrong with it it just needed trimming down to size it cost us £10. I chose a colour scheme of purple and painted said door :-)

My biggest expensive was my chicken coop. I managed to sell some vintage goodies and raised enough to buy it £109 then I got to painting it purple and picked out the door and window in a light shade of blue.

We used those stone blocks around the outside but inside the run and then covered the base with a breathable membrane which we put holes in for drainage and then put 10mm gravel pea shingle down throughout the run area. I have researched so much about what to use but felt this might work better for us so I went with it. It should be easy to keep clean hopefully. We set 8 slabs in the middle of the square area of the run to put the house onto.

And this is what the finished Home and enclosure looks like now.

I have put a wooden cutting block that was actually in the wood shed in which they can perch on a stepping stones of 4 tree trunks which were also in the wood shed and a mirror I picked up for a £5. Which I have to say the mirror has been a huge hit :-)  We also put 1"1 welded mesh around the whole outside fencing and dug it into the ground.

Put some slabs to the front and some wooden panels that were left over from the scaffold men we dug into the ground close to the enclosure to give it extra support from Mr Fox. My bench is there to along with a some hanging baskets I have plans for more bedding plants to.

As you can see the house area is covered over with some blue tar polling to give the hens a dry area as well as an open area to play in. My deck chair is currently there to so I can sit with them.

I used two old metal baths and filled them up with the ash from the fires for them to have dusts baths in.

And I am pleased to say the girls love it :-)

Here they are on Saturday looking scared and vacant.

My little Rosie huddled up in the cat box

Me looking just as shocked and upset after an emotional day holding my little Rosie

I am pleased to say that the girls have been eating and drinking and have started to explore their new home and their characters are already forming. I do have some very serious bullying isues with Petunia who wants to be top hen she boots Marigold, Henrietta a bold and weak girl and Poppy out of the house as soon as the door is open and then stands guard and wont let them back in or let my little girl Rosie or Bluebell out both these girls have hardly any feathers and are weak. Yesterday morning she had them cornered in the house and had them both wedged up in the nest box both had their heads buried in the ground bottoms up it was horrible she wont let them eat or drink. So after a phone call to the British Hen Welfare Trust I had to crate her for an hour that was Tuesday. Yesterday morning when I went to open them up the same thing happened the booted the 3 girls out and then when I went to look in the house I saw blood everywhere and thought don't panic I found the source my poor little Rosie had pulled a claw out must have happened when being chased around inside and she caught it while trying to clamber over the wooden nest box sides. I managed to wrap her in a blanket and clean it up and put Vaseline on it, I also cleaned up the blood that was in the house. I rang my friend who keeps chickens and is a chicken judge she came round and checked the girls over and also witnessed Petunia bullying. She said my weaker 3 girls wouldn't stand a chance with her around she was concerned by them.  (she also applied some aloe vera gel to Rosies toe).  And she said see how she is today well she didn't learn from yesterdays time in the crate and started on poor Rosie and Bluebell again and poor Poppy who does stand up to her Petunia grabbed her by her comb and nearly lifted her up of the floor. My friend has offered to take her and put her with her flock and I am seriously considering it as I really want to give my 3 weaker girls a chance they must have been hen pecked all their lives and its not fair its under my control to a point but if she goes, i know Poppy will become top hen and she is so much more gentle with everyone.

Let me introduce you to the girls :-)

 Miss Marigold gently watching over Rosie and Bluebell while they eat. As you can see Marigold looks like a hen she is such a quiet, gentle soul and likes her own company but she has formed a lovely relationship with Henrietta.

Little Henrietta

Poppy Having her first ever bath and deciding she is queen of the coop
Petunia the biggest of them all and the Bully
This has to be my favourite photo and moment so far Henrietta on the left and Miss Marigold on the right these two have become firm friends and spend all day together you can always find them here especially Miss Marigold who loves that Mirror :-)
That's it from me for today I have so much to share moments with the hens but the sun is calling me and I am itching to get back to my little girls. Milly and Kia hounds have been very interested in them especially Milly who ran up to them like a bull in a china shop the first 2 days now I say slowly and today she was brilliant.
Take lots of care until next time
Bye for now dee xx 


  1. love reading all about the girls...hard decision over the bully but I'm sure you will do whats best for all, good luck xx

  2. What a lovely home you have given them, I am sure they will thrive and before long they will forget the miserable past life they had xx

  3. Well done, both on getting your girls and for putting so much thought into their new home. The mirror is a brilliant touch, is it fixed in place so it doesn't fall on them? They look like they are really enjoying preening themselves in front of it. I may just have to find a mirror for my girls ... I've never thought of doing that.

    They will feather up really quickly now that Spring is on the way so don't worry about them being so bald. Things improve with fresh air, clean water and a good diet. Please don't be tempted to put them in little jumpers like some very well-meaning folk do, they look cute but they cause so much pain pushing on emerging feathers.

    I hope you have lots of fun with them over the next few months and that you can sort out the bullying, it's never nice to watch.

  4. Can't wait to see their feathers grow back and they become beautiful hens, they are lucky to find such a lovely home.

  5. Oh my what a stressful story but now they've got lots of love and attention I hope the story will have a happy ending.

  6. Hello Dee Dee,
    My wife and I had up to 4000 free range hens over 10 years. The hen-pecked ones were very friendly, but somehow appeared to annoy the others. We had to take them out of the flock and let them have their own space, inside the same are. I once bundled 2 bald birds into my coat and took them by motorbike to another farm for care in a small group. It was cold, snow on the ground. Within a day or 2 the new owner said they'd the, believed to have been taken by a fox. A week later the first bird appeared among the to do of 4000 and run to me. Within days the other too. These birds, with hardly any feathers had lived in the snow for a week and found their way back and flew over the fence to get back in!!
    With hens you will attract the wily Mr Fox! You'd have to get tough if he starts appearing!
    With the hens, one consideration might be a cockerel to sort out bullying as he'd be top dog and might stabilise things, otherwise, your current lead hen would have to be separated from the others, but keep together as far as possible. If you have extra hens, keep them together, overnight in the dark, so that they all smell the same by morning. It might be worth trying that with the bully and the others, if you want to try to get them together.

    1. Thanks for your comment Chris wow 4000 that must have kept you busy. Love the story of your 2 featherless girls that made me smile. I let Petunia go to my friend Sue and since then the others have come on really well although I very sadly lost Henrietta it was all to much for her.

  7. Poor little loves. They are so lucky to have such a wonderful new home to go to. I think your friend might be right by offering to take her out of the mix - she sounds like a bit of a bully! Fortunately mine have been pretty even in terms of hierarchy. Funnily enough, the most timid Is my little ginger girl.
    You have made a fantastic home for them! :)

  8. You've got a heart of gold, Dee. I don't know anything about chickens but the homes we stay at in Goa always have a few clucking about in the yard - there doesn't seem to be many predators there. They often gather round the lady of the house when she's sorting through the rice and gobble up the grains she tosses at them.
    I was very sad to read about Henrietta but at least she experienced some freedom and love. xxx

  9. Wow. I never thought chickens would be such an adventure. I CAN'T wait until we get some. We have lots of jobs to do around the house, not decorating but the cellar rooms need finishing and the garden is a jungle and I just want to get to the interesting bits. Jon says we need to bite the bullet and buy a greenhouse soon as he doesn't have time to build one, which is what he really wanted to do, so we have thigs growing soon!

  10. Oh my goodness no wonder you cried, they look just pitiful. I know with your love and care these ladies will fill out, re-feather and live a wonderful life. Thank goodness for lovely people like you Dee, you have given them a mansion to live in with spa like grounds.

  11. Those photos are absolutely heartbreaking. How can people do that to chickens. Your coop and run are wonderful! So much thought, love, and care went into it. It's a gold star for you!

  12. I hope that the chics are happy in their new home and that order has been restored :-)

  13. Oh how fabulous Dee. I'm very envious as chickens are on my list of things to do. Especially rescue ones like yours. I look forward to seeing their health improve and their feathers return. Will their beaks grow back?
    Well done on the chicken run aswell. You made a great job of it. xx

  14. oh how exciting for you to get them,if not in the nicest circumstances, im sure they will flourish once Petunia is not bullying / in another flock. I can see her attitude radiating from that crate haha
    I'm looking forward to seeing them grow and re-feathered :) xx