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  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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January 11 2012 4 11 /01 /January /2012 10:59

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Keeping chickens is a growing hobby in Britain, and it can easily be done if you have a back garden and there are no regulations to prevent you.

 

Firstly, you need a secure coop. This will be  a waterproof, warm and comfortable place for your chickens to roost. Ideally it will have  a perch to roost on. The coop will need a solid floor, ideally of strong wood, so that foxes and rats cannot burrow in. This should be covered in fresh straw and or wood shavings that you renew on a  regular basis.  The coop will need an enclosed wire area, a pen,  for the chickens to peck. This area should be safe from foxes. A fox can dig under the wire of a coop, so you need to ensure that some wire is tucked under the sides of the coop to prevent the foxes burrowing in. Watch out for holes in the mesh that might allow one of these pests or a cat to sneak in.Ideally you will purchase a professionally made coop from a dealer. There are many good ones about. Ensure that it is well painted before the chickens are introduced.

 

Some coops are movable, so that the chickens can be moved to different areas of ground, preventing build up of diseaes in one spot and the ground going stale.

 

Select your breeds. Most people want eggs, though some want meat. Some want both. So take advice as to the breeds that you want from a knowledgable dealer. If you just want eggs, you do not need a cock. This is because the eggs that we eat are unfertilised ovulations that the females just drop and leave. They only squat on fertilised ones. If you do get a cock for breeding, ensure that you keep cocks separate from each other, as males put together fight for supremacy. Keep different breeds in separate pens, if you want to breed from them. Cross breeds have no pedigree.

 

Chickens need a good diet. They are omnivores, which means that they eat anything, though they generally feed on vegetables. you are not allowed to feed kitchenscraps to them. Purchase a mash. For eggs you want a layers' mash. There is a different mash for meat. You can certainly feed them other materials. They will peck seeds and plant materials, such as fresh greens. However, chickens need to peck for food, so allow space and ground suitable for pecking behaviour. They will eat small insects, but although chickens will eat meat, cooked meat is not ideal for them.and should not be given. Any meat should come only from pecking for insects, their natural behaviour. Water should be provided fresh more than once a day in a feeder that they cannot foul or knock over. Professionally made feeders for both water and food are available from dealers.

 

They need a steady supply of grit to aid digestion. This should be spread in the pen and the chickens allowed to peck for it.. Chickens also need to be given an anti-worm substance at regular intervals, as pecking the ground can mean ingestion of worm eggs.

 

Any signs of disease should result ina vet being summoned.However, you need to be merciful. Sometimes it is kinder to kill an incurably sick animal than to leave it to suffer. You must be realistic in making decisions on this matter.

 

To prevent disease clear out the straw in the coop and any droppings on a  regular basis.This material makes excelllent compost. You may need to disinfect on occasion to prevent red mite, which is a nuisance for chicken keepers. When keeping animals you must never drop your vigilance against pests and diseases. It is unfair on the animal.

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August 5 2011 6 05 /08 /August /2011 13:04

Blackberry Farm is a family farm where families can interact with animals and fowl of over two hundred kinds. The emphasis is on common farm animals, but there are some more exotic species, such as llamas and some pets, such as guinea pigs, and wild animals. A variety of children's activities is available and there is a cafe.

The family market

The farm

Blackberry Farm in Sussex is not to be confused with the any one of the RSPCA centres, particularly Blackberry Farm in the West country. It consists of a family run farm containing over two hundred animals. Situated on the A22 five miles south of Uckfield, it is well signposted and offers a family day where the chance to interact with animals is available. It offers days out, but does not offer accommodation or a campsite.

The animals

Common farm animals, such as varieties of cattle [including highland and jersey] several pig breeds, sheep and goats are found, along with donkeys, llamas, alpacas and shetland ponies. A pet section appeals to younger children, where they can see rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs. There is a range of fowl, including chickens and geese. Two injured foxes which are unable to return to the wild, are kept.

Small animals

These are always popular. It is possible to bottle feed orphaned lambs, if any are available. There are some miniature varieties, including three miniature donkeys. The farm has some dexters, a miniature breed of cattle. There are also pygmy goats.

Activities

There is a daily programme of activities, including pony, tractor and cart riding and animal handling sessions. Some of these, such as plunge sliding and goat racing, are subject to the weather. Egg collecting and egg blowing are also available.

The Farm runs a pony club for children who want to learn to ride. This operates at weekends, and you book a five week block of two hour sessions. You are allocated a time, so there is no queuing. The farm offers pony owners days where owners can learn to groom and tend their ponies.

Scheme

One scheme offers the chance to be a farmer for a day. The child will be accompanied for a whole day of feeding and caring for animals. Another scheme offers birthday parties. These must be booked and the party will be organised. Pony parties and farm parties can be booked. There are play areas, a cafe and a tuck shop.

It is possible to purchase small animals from the farm, such as guinea pigs, chinchillas and rabbits.

1 Resting Alpacas 1 Vilande Alpackor | Source | Author Lonezor | DateFour Guniea Pigs TogetherHighland Cattle, Isle of Islay, Schottland
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July 6 2011 4 06 /07 /July /2011 16:26

Alpacas are useful farm animals whose numbers are growing as they are kept as farm animals for wool production, and as exotic pets. There are many breeders now who can supply them. These breeders have internet sites, but it is useful to purchase them from a breeder near to you, if possible, as this will mean less travel for the alpacas. Find more in this article.

Growing numbers

Why keep alpacas?

Some individuals just like them as pets to keep on their lands, but others see them as sources of a very high quality wool that can feed a woollen industry. Some farmers add them to the livestock on ther farms. At Hafod -y-Glan farm, near Snowdon, the farmer believes that the introducton of alpacas has deterred foxes that were attacking lambs, as alpacas make excellent sheep guards.

Considerations when buying

Remember that alpacas are herd animals and can become lonely if they are deprived of other alpacas. Human company is not enough for them. Alpaca owners should consider taking more than one. This is important if you are a smallholder on a limited budget.

Take either a male and female or two females. Never take two males as they will not get on. Two geldings/wethers (castrated males) will rarely fight. If you want them as sheep guards, be sure that two did the job at Hafod-y-Glan.

Where to find them

Alpaca breeders are found all around the country, all of which have alpacas for sale. There is a website Alpacafinder.co.uk which shows you where to purchase them. You can also type 'alpaca breeders in the UK' for a good website.

There are more alpaca breeders in the south than in the north. Some will be named here, and you can then look them up on a search engine. The website is available if it includes hyphens or is not obvious from the name of the farm.

In Devon, Laurel Farm is an alpaca stud, found at Alpacas-for-sale.co.uk. Langaton Farm also sells alpacas. Dorset has Snooks Farm alpacas.

In the South-East, the alpaca stud is found in West Sussex. In Kent, there is Goodwin alpacas. In the east, Suffolk has Melford Green alpacas. As you move into Northamptonshire, check out Viracochaalpacas.co.uk.

In Yorkshire, you find Fowberry alpacas (Fowberry-alpacas.com) for sale. This farm seems to offer a range of alpacas, such as alpacas for stud, herd sires and geldings, as well as females for breeding and wool.

Going westwards we find that the Lancashire site Sudell-alpacas.piczo.com is located north of Preston. In Cheshire, Oaklyn Farm is a new breeder and there is Llamaland. Outside England, type in 'alpacas of Ireland' for a site in Kildare.

alpaka,schwielensohler,paarhufer,camelidae1 Resting Alpacas 1 Vilande Alpackor | Source | Author Lonezor | Date
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