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Ronnie Sillitoes's Diary 2024


I have started my preparations for the breeding season with the lights set to 10hrs then 30 minutes per week up to 14hrs and with fade up and down it will be 14 and a half hours .


The birds have been treated for coccidiosis with Baycox for 2 days  followed by vitamins ( boost 250 ) and a probiotic  (prolyte C ) together for 2 days .

Also the birds have been treated for trichomoniasis (canker) with Ronidazole for 7days followed by vitamins and probiotics for 2 days .


Conditioning with feed has begun with a teaspoon of condition seed mixed with codliver oil giving them vitamins A & D which is essential. 


Also ground up greens ( brocolli, sprouts,cabbage) with Ropa bird digestive oil ,this contains many essential oils to keep the birds healthy.

18.01 2024

This week saw the lights go up 30 minutes and activity is increasing nicely, but the weather has turned extremely cold with the temperature in the bird room dropping to 1°C  making the birds look a bit lethargic on a morning so the tubular heaters are on and set to 10 °C this has picked them back up in condition to where they were.


In the water this week is 

Monday - Fetura

Tuesday   apple cider vinegar  20ml to 1ltr

Wednesday plain water

Thursday    Fetura

Friday  boost 250 

Saturday  plain water

Sunday  proltye c


Feeding is mixed canary  in hopper- all week 

Condition seed with Ropa oil- once a week

Ground up broccoli,  savoy cabbage - twice a  week 

Soak seed - once per week


The Ropa oil  contains  oregano oil and cinnamon oil which are both antibacterial and good for gut health


Baths are on with half the birds going in which is another indicator of health, mainly the Older birds trying to stay warm in the very cold conditions. 


This week has seen the weather change from -3° to 10° quite dramatic for the birds and not helpful to the  path  up to breeding ,the humidity has been averaging 70 % which is okay. 


The time clock has move on 30 minutes and activity is increasing with some hens darting from perch to perch,for those hens a little behind an increase in boost 250 for an extra day is beneficial,this is instead of apple cider vinegar. 


I have continued with mixed canary in the hoppers (giving a full hopper and  this is kept on till there is almost  nothing left after  about 5 days  ) and on Monday a finger draw of condition seed with cod-liver oil on once every two weeks giving vitamins A&D  which they can't store in their  bodies also a finger draw of mixed Millet  on Thursday with Ropa oil on weekly which the birds love. 


A piece of soft string is attached to the hens stock cage giving me a good indication of their fitness.


This week has been spent trimming the birds up for breeding and assessing feather type , meaning length ,breadth and density so as to get the right type feathers for the pairing which is only one part of the selection .Another way to do this is to spray all your cocks together with warm water and the quickest to dry are narrow feather and the longest to dry are broad feather as a rule of thumb,you then repeat with the hens and pair quickest cock  to dry with slowest hen to dry and vice versa .


This week has not been good for the birds with fog and rain coupled together with the temperature jumping between 3°and 12° it's creating perfect conditions for mould and fungus to grow ,the dehumidifier has been working well keeping the humidity to 75° in my cabin but if the temperature drops below 10 ° the desiccant dehumidifiers stop working and only the compresser type dehumidifiers work .


With another half hour added to the time clock the hens are looking good and the cocks singing has increased to the point of hanging a cock on the stock cage of the hens has seen hens pencilling and cocks dancing on the perches so looking good.


I have been trialling a ph water tester as I have read many articles on the subject 

The pH of the water is really important to stop bacterial and fungal infections particularly when breeding. 

A pH of 7 is the norm with anything above making the water alkaline and anything under acidic .

By testing my water where I live I have found  a pH of 7 .

To reduce infections I want to lower the pH to  between 4.5 to 5 which will help the birds with their gut problems as a more  acidic gut will stop many of the problems .

A good gut health will be seen in the birds droppings which I will observe over the next few weeks ,small black and white droppings are what I am hoping to see .

A very low pH i.e. under 4 can stop the birds absorbing minerals  so keeping it between 4.5 and 5 is my target .


This week has been windy but the daytime temperatures around the 10° mark outside so inside the cabin is 13° -14° and the birds are really active with another 30 minutes on the clock.

I considered not putting on the 30 minutes as the hens look good but possibly a little behind the cocks, so I put a small amount of nesting material on the stock cages and most hens started picking at it and carrying it for a while then giving up, so a few more weeks to go.


The water additives have increased to 


Monday       Boost 250

Tuesday      Fetura

Wednesday plain water

Thursday     Prolyte c

Friday          Boost 250 

Saturday      Fetura

Sunday        plain water 


As I have said I am testing the water to try and keep the ph down to around 5 

So, in the plain water I add apple cider vinegar to reduce the ph surprisingly at the rate of 1ml per litre gets it to 5

The fetura doesn't need reducing as diluting into plain water it drops to the 5 mark 

The boost 250 gets 1ml to 1 litre apple cider vinegar added to drop to a ph. of 5.


The feeding is 

1 hopper of mixed seed all week with the husks blown off daily.


Greens plus carrot blended together with a teaspoon of ropa oil twice per week.


Condition seed twice per week (1 teaspoon). (every other week a teaspoon of cod liver oil is added)


 A teaspoon of ground up sunflower hearts once a week.


A teaspoon of charcoal every other day. 


This week has been fog,mist rain ,wintery showers  and miserable with the dehumidifier working night and day removing up to 3 litres a day ,this has kept the humidity down to around 70 -75 % . The back end of the week has improved with a bit of sunshine. 

With the increase in lights the activity has been noticeable with hens carrying and some half squatting for the cocks hung on the stock cage fronts ,I will only introduce them when they have started to build nests .

I have 3 choices for each hen as the first choice may not be compatible but by the second round hopefully my first choice will be introduced and the pairing I most want will happen ( but not always).

I have treated the birds for coccidiosis this week and followed that up with a few days on prolyte c .

I am using wooden type nest pans this year on all the hens as I think with a meshed bottom it will get more air through as i have seen hens drilling holes with their beaks into the bottom of the clay nest pans  through the liner and nesting material trying to regulate the temperature in the nest .

Also i have put half cup drinkers on the outside of cages for putting the eggfood, condition seed ,greens etc so the waste will fall on the floor rather than the cage bottom.

Perches are cleaned regularly as the hens and cocks are regurgitating food and if left could  infect the birds with trichomoniasis (canker) ,the first signs of this is problem is gaping and if you look close its like they have excessive moisture between the beak ,this could have an effect on hatchlings if not treat immediately, I use Ronidazole which works well .

The additives in the water are 

Monday        Boost 250

Tuesday      Fetura

Wednesday plain water

Thursday     Prolyte c 

Friday          Boost 250 

Saturday      Fetura

Sunday plain water



Monday       greens +carrot

Tuesday      condition seed  + ropa oil

Wednesday eggfood

Thursday      soaked seed

Friday           greens +carrot

Saturday        condition seed + codliver oil

Sunday          eggfood 

Everything is a teaspoon full only 


This week had been much more settled with more sunshine and you can see the birds like it by their level of activity. 

Several hens are building nests and I have run some cocks in as I use 1 cock with 3-4 hens and a couple of pairs which bred well for me last year. 

Two hens have laid which is 2 weeks later than last year .

I find that some hens start building but they are not quite ready and it could be a week or two before they are in full nesting mode.

You can tell this when you run the cock in they sqat but don't Arch their back enough for the cock to tread properly and you think the cock has failed but when the hens are ready they will arch their backs that little bit more so he can tread successfully. 

Running a stud cock can be tricky if his chosen hens all go at the same time,  to combat this problem I run the cock with two hens one day and two the next ,I run him in with each hen early morning then late afternoon and again as the lights are about to fade if he has had a good tread with one hen I focus on getting a good tread with the second hen 

I start giving a bit more calcium at this point mixing it in with the egg food or greens which I give a teaspoon of each every other day while the are in nesting/laying mode,I don't put it in the drinkers as they may not need it and will be forced to drink it ,putting it in the egg food gives the a choice to eat it or not.

I stop the vitamins in the water and reduce the Fetura to twice a week as I don't want the hens too fit where they don't settle to incubate the eggs.

The cocks are on plain water  daily as they are  very fit and trying to sing the hens down to mate.

For me this is the worst part of the breeding season until they settle into a cycle,as they are all different characters some will not want the chosen cock, some will not want to nest in the nest pan, some will mess about for ages. some will look like they are not ready then lay eggs,so it's a testing time and being very observant and sitting watching is very important to make sure you make good decisions. 

Nesting material can be a problem at this time wrapping round their feet and cutting off the blood circulation  so if yo have any nylon type material cut it short, I prefer the jute strings and sisal  cotton this I find makes good nests .


This week has been very cold with temperatures dropping below freezing throughout the nights and with a stiff North wind through the day hasn't helped, but the birds are in good condition and many nests completed a few nests have been set, one un-flighted hen didn't

call for tread and laid 5 eggs which will probably will be infertile (cock has been in with the hen but never seen to mate)

A second hen decided not to sit after laying 4 eggs these are under feeders that I keep for this reason.

I only use feeders to sit eggs in abandoned nests or if a single hen has a nest of 4 or 5 full eggs, I transfer a couple of eggs to a feeder and put dummies in both nests to keep incubation right.

Keeping your cock birds in condition means giving them the energy to sing and tread so egg food, Perle Morbide and condition seed are given most days.  

Whilst hens are sitting, I top the seed hoppers daily so when they come off to feed, they get what they need without scratting around looking for it, this means they can spend as little time off the nest as possibly during the cold weather not letting the eggs chill.

The wooden nest pans seem to be a hit with the hens as they are all using them where they were put with the exception of one hen.

Calcium is always a big debate on how much to give as some hens seem to take a lot while others don't, I give Calcium in the eggfood, Perle morbide and cut slithers off cuttlefish for each hen but some hens will have a problem usually un-flighted ones so if a hen is struggling and looking not so well when laying I give a half a ml of Osteocare which works 90% of the time and the hens quickly recover

This product is for humans and is available at Tesco's big stores or online and other places it cost about £5 a bottle it has Calcium, magnesium, vitamin D and zinc I swear by it.

Nest pans felts are sewn in as using carbolic soap, glue etc in my opinion blocks any ventilation that's my opinion but some will say otherwise. 


This week has been cold with some east winds which I dread as east winds usually bring problems, but there has been a lot of sunshine and this has helped.


Some hens are incubating and sitting tight and a quick check has revealed some fertile eggs.


The un-flighted hens are generally taking their time with some building and some messing around, but it'll come right I am sure so patience is the key word it doesn't matter who is doing what you must concentrate on the job at hand.


I've been out and bought some frozen mixed vegetables from the supermarket and ground them up frozen so they don't mush then let them defrost and added egg food dry, this looks very nice and the birds are enjoying it.


Some of the young hens have missed a day laying but all have laid the very next day, clutches of eggs have been good with more than half laying 5 eggs so it's important to run the cock in till she no longer squats for him so as to fertilize the last eggs.


As I have said some of the nests are fertile but some are not, this I think is caused by young hens not mature enough and usually the next round is fertile.


Young cocks can be a problem being over fit and wanting to fight the hen instead of singing her down to tread, I tend to leave them for an hour with a bit of battling going on and most times they settle the next time they are put together, however some don't ,putting a  slide between them for a few days might work ,if not the second choice cock is used, I do try the original pair in the second round and this has in the past worked for me.


At the point of hatching, I give half a teaspoon of egg food which is Easyyem and only a teaspoon after hatching for two days which I change 3 times a day.


Soak seed is added at 3 days but only a level finger draw and at five days a finger draw of ground up greens is given once per day also seed hoppers topped up daily with a mixed canary. 


Cocks which I keep separate are on plain water with a ph. of 5 and mixed canary with the exception of the ones treading which I give a finger draw of condition seed one day and egg food the next to keep them in top condition, I don't give vitamins or Fetura as I find they become over fit and attack hens instead of treading.

A piece of Himalayan rock salt is in each cage and they lick it often giving minerals and salt (20 mm square).


The hens that don't sit their eggs have the nest pan removed for ten days and during that time only get mixed canary in the hoppers and plain water (ph5) to settle them down, the problem with them not sitting could be they want the cock bird in with them but if you’re using him with several hens this is not possible most times because if he bonds with the one hen, he usually won't go with another.


After 10 days the birds not sitting get the nest pan back in and when she has begun building the cock is reintroduced, I only leave him in for 5 minutes then remove even if he hasn't tred, I keep trying until he does but as I said for only 5 minutes, this I find gets the hens sitting their next clutch of eggs.


This week has been good for weather with a bit of sunshine and mainly dry but today has been cold wet and foggy not good for humidity, the dehumidifier has kept it down to 70-75 % so not too bad but the temperature has dropped.


I had some eggs due Sunday which didn't hatch and a quick test in the egg buddy showed beating hearts so I wasn't concerned, but after another 24 hrs the test showed only two hearts beating, so I pin pricked the top of the egg in the air space 3 times as I was worried, they would run out of air. I had seen this done by the vet in the journal and 10 hours later they hatched after almost 17 days (I was only concerned as the hen had been sitting tight and other eggs in other nests had hatched on time)


The main thing is the birds are starting to settle down now and things are going okay, other than some young hens needing the cock to stay with them something I don't normally do, as they may bond with that hen and possibly may not be interested in other hens I have planned for them. I do take them away from the hen they are with for short periods while I am in the cabin to keep them interested in other hens, but I can put them back if the hens not happy.


Fertility is quite good with about 60-70% eggs full which is OK for the start of the season and hopefully improve later on in the season, one thing I do try is to get the hen treaded on the cage floor as the young cock birds quite often knock them off the perches causing a failed mating, as I have previously said I am happy with a couple of decent treads a day[HP1] .



This week has been very cold with the east / northeast winds which isn't helpful to breeding borders.


The week started off with a disaster as one of the feeders got out and was flying around when I opened the cabin, this had caused the sitting and feeding hens to come off the eggs and chicks this resulting in full eggs being stone cold and no heart beats detected in the egg buddy after warming them up. 


The cold chicks were revived and the hens fortunately sat back on the nests and feeding resumed an hour later.


The drinker holes for the feeders were blocked off to stop this happening again. 


I still believe the birds have not settled into the season with weather highs and lows being the main problem.


When pairing up great attention is paid to which hen goes where as having hens paired to the same cock nearby can drag them off the nests and unsettle them.


Soaked seed is the preferred food for feeding hens and all I do is soak it overnight rinse thoroughly and give it but I do rinse it again periodically throughout the day.


The feeding hens like broccoli stalks sliced long ways and the spend time getting the marrow out also petite poi's peas are relished but not too many are given as they get addicted and it causes the nest to be a mess. 


The wooden nest pans have been a big hit with every hen taking to them.



This week has been completely unsettled with rain, fog, cold, windy with a bit of sun and you can tell by the hens in their feeding which is much slower, when the sun comes out it picks up but not to where it needs to be.


The first chicks are stood on the nest pans ready to jump and look promising. 


Soaked seed is  soaked for 8hrs rinsed thoroughly and given is going down well,(I rinse it 4 times throughout the day),I only make enough for 1 day as I am worried it may go sour and make the chicks sick, an early sign this is happening is the colour of the chicks they go yellowish and lose their vigour to get their heads up giving the hens Epsom’s salt in the water helps which helps clean them out only if they look yellowish, prevention  is the key by rinsing thoroughly.


One young hen is still not settled so I have left the cock in with her to see if she will settle, but that probably will render the cock unusable with other hens as he will probably bond with her, however I might be lucky and if so will run him out to tred other hens then return him immediately. 


I have been mixing petite poi’s peas into the egg food also frozen mixed vegetables then defrosted and chopped up which the hens are enjoying and they are taken first by most hens. 


Fertility has been reasonable but could be better so I will add some wheatgerm oil into condition seed and give a finger draw daily this should help.


Hatching has been a bit patchy with some 2 days late but most 1 day late.


Dead in the shell or addled eggs can be put down to the temperature or hens being off the nest to long when the weather is really cold which it has been lately.


When the first young are weaned I only give Perle Morbide till I am happy they are eating properly, this is give on a 8 inch x 4 inch dish making it easy for them to see, I change this  to small dish after 3/4 days.

I think they only go for it because of the colour.


This week is still unsettled with lots of rain high winds and a bit of sunshine but started off with thick fog and the humidity at 90 % the dehumidifier wasn't getting down very well only reaching 80 %, I had some eggs due 5 days later but they failed to hatch bringing disappointment it may also be a problem to some still due to hatch.


Another disappointment is some hens have produced clear eggs even though they were treading well, my opinion is the hens have been over eating during the very cold weather and have fat on them causing the failure to have fertile eggs, these hens are now on rationed seed one finger draw a day until they have a new full clutch. 


Feeding is still going well with soaked seed the favourite

The hens are picking out the mixed vegetables in the soft food and the chicks in the nests look healthy.


I have given the birds a coccidiosis treatment as the weather is up and down perfect for coccidiosis to thrive, Baycox is the treatment and even hens feeding chicks has not seen any effect and are still going well.


A few chicks have reached 24 days and are still begging for food as long as they are getting fed, I will leave them but this can be a problem so keep an eye on them if they try to feed themselves, I will move them.


This week has been very windy with very cold temperatures especially overnight with lows of 3°and not much better through the day plus some days very wet with humidity at 90°.Making it the worst week of the season, with my hens building nests with plenty ventilation at the bottom, the eggs are vulnerable to cold and high humidity when the hens come off to feed.

This has resulted in 3 nests not hatching which is a disaster at this point of the season.

Plus, another nest of clear eggs hasn't helped, but as Border men we get on with it as the lows can get you down but the highs pick you back up.

I have set 2 more nests and on checking at 4 days they look full.


Looking at the seed mix it's not what it used to be with the seeds very small and after having a conversation with John and Margaret South they don't think the seed has enough goodness to keep the birds in good condition, which ties in with my thinking that the birds are eating a lot of seed to get enough to sustain them ,the problem is if we supplement it with other foods we risk them getting fat which will result in infertile eggs  having tried a different brand of seed the problem is still the same so maybe the seed just doesn't have the quality with the ongoing problems in the world. 

To combat this, I give every other day a finger drawer of tonic seed or egg food or Perle Morbide plus greens on the days I don't give extra.


Weaning chicks can be a problem especially if the mother has gone to nest again and some chicks just sit on the food and beg, I try to put 3-5 chicks in a weaner cage (at least one older) and they usually copy each other feeding, the feed I give is Perle Morbide with petite poi's peas for the first few days as the usually go for the green colour 



This week has been terrible with cold north then east winds making it feel like minus 2 and lots of rain and fog off the sea.

Trying to breed quality borders in these conditions is probably the most challenging as I believe you try to keep the conditions right but are constantly battling humidity and cold.


Another nest failed to hatch and on inspection they were addled meaning the chicks had died part way through incubation so I decided to be in the bird room as the lights came on the following morning 5am, I sat and observed hens coming off eggs for a drink and food and found they were off the eggs in my opinion too long. With the temperature being low 10° I can see Why it's happening as normally this long in decent weather won't affect them as much.


As the outside temperature was 2 ° but with a biting east wind it feels like -2, to remedy this I have set another heater to come on at 4-30am at 15° this should warm the bird room up so it helps keep the eggs from chilling too much, the heater then goes off an hour later and hopefully with temperatures rising through the day it should settle down but I will adjust when necessary. 

I can't remember a season like it with weather playing such a major part. 


Another problem happened with a hen rearing 3 chicks which were 22 days old just stopped feeding and went to build a nest this caused me to hand feed them ,I mixed some Versa Laga A19 hand mix and syringed 3ml into each of their crops every hour throughout the day and again the following day ,they were in a cage with paper on the floor and egg food, Perle Morbide and peas scattered, after 3 days one started picking up the peas but I continued to supplement it and the others still getting hand fed ,so far 2 have now started to feed themselves to my relief but the last one still gets fed hourly but has now started to take the hand mix off a spoon which  is a good sign. 


This week has started with very cold winds and low temperatures but has ended with the temperature rising to 20°, no wonder the birds are not settled. Let's hope the warmer weather continues and we can have a decent round of chicks raised.


The hens that are feeding are doing well on soaked seed, egg food mixed with Perle Morbide and peas also the mixed vegetables are going down well with most of them especially the sweet corn. 


Disappointment of only one or two chicks hatching in full nests has lowered spirits but we must keep going. 


With the weather warming up the hens seem a bit more settled and things may be getting better. 


The chicks that have been rung are all feeding nicely with feeds alternating between soft food with Perle Morbide and peas to soaked seed, also soaked (overnight) groats with greens given between feeds.


As I have said I am not happy with the seed I am using and have changed to Haiths Deluxe which the Border Convention have a deal (see the website) and this has lifted the birds, which I am happy about


I have been giving the B complex vitamins in the soft food every 3rd day and I find this helps.


We have reached the end of the week and the weather has warmed but living by the sea I am now getting sea fog in the last 2 days which raises humidity. 


It seems this season is one step forward and two steps back at times.


This week has been good weather wise and it's a different atmosphere in the bird room with activity picking up.


This week is my last setting of eggs and hope fully they will hatch 25th May. 

It's been a long tough season with clear, addled and dead in shell eggs,

I have put this down to severely cold wet weather for too long also the nests built were not as good as I would have liked with very little material in the bottom but trying to build them up put the hens off sitting.

Also, many hens just didn't settle with the conditions and all we can hope for is a better year next year.


I have long since thought that Barometric pressure is detected by the birds even though they are inside they still live to the conditions outside.

I've had 3 nests hatch this week one with 3 and two with 2, one of the hens looked like she wanted to feed but didn't know what to do so I swapped her chicks with a hen feeding 2 in another nest which were a day older, thankfully they both started feeding the chicks as the hen who didn't know what to do had chicks now just that bit stronger and coming up for food as soon as she lifted.


Trying to keep the hens interested in feeding is a challenge so I tried all sorts of different types of things this week, I've given them a dish of mixed Millet and they are loving it with them leaving empty dishes.

Giving them broccoli stalks cut long ways and grated like carrots which is a favourite as well.

Even trying a different brand of egg food sometimes helps.

Sometimes with holding all feeds apart from mixed seed for half a day helps.

Training has started for the first round with show cages hung onto the stock cage for a couple of hours and being inquisitive they are in very quickly. 

A drinker full of tonic seed soon gets them used to putting their heads through ready for exhibition. 


With a good few chicks in the nests and feeding going well I wasn't prepared for what happened Monday morning, I came in the cabin and noticed a hen feeding 2 chicks with her head under her wing and both chicks looking severely ill ,on looking round the cabin 3 more nests were affected with hens looking really sick and chicks in a severely bad way,I treated them with Trimethoprim sulpha powder which treats e coli ,coccidiosis and bacterial infections but it was evident the chicks wouldn't survive, what I couldn't understand was other hens feeding chicks were having no problems so this eliminated the soaked seed and egg food also the Perle Morbide. I was totally baffled, but sat down and tried to analyse everything and anything that could be wrong after a bit of head scratching, I noticed that all the affected hens had eaten the broccoli and all the hens with no problem hadn't so it was obvious that the broccoli was the culprit. On Googling broccoli, I discovered that it was 70% safe of pesticides leaving 30% not, which is something I wasn't aware of. I have stopped giving broccoli and will only use organic green food in the future, all of the chicks died 9 in total but it could have been worse.


The affected hens are still not well as there is nothing to give for poisoning but I have them on Prolyte C and vitamins for now and we will see what happens. 


All the chicks on the sticks are doing well as I don't give them greens until they’re into the moult.


The seed issue I have been having with inferior quality in my opinion has been resolved using Haith's de Luxe which is far superior to that I was using and with the Border Convention seed deal its very affordable. 


The eggs in the nests are the final ones now and hens still laying are set on dummy ones till they have completed their full cycle then it'll be into flight cages to moult.


This week has been the worst week weather wise with thick coastal fog from Wednesday to Sunday and humidity 100°not what we need, 3 mile inland it’s been quite nice the weather as we found out going for a drive out of the depressing fog, the rest of the week we've had on /off rain and this Wednesday a monsoon making breeding borders an almost impossibility, if this continues next year, I am afraid it'll be the end.


Inside the cabin hens feeding the last chicks are slow and look miserable as if ready to stop, I've tried everything to keep them interested from soaked overnight groats, Pak choi, spinach, spring cabbage, apple to ground up cauliflower and millet seed also dishes of crushed hemp and Niger seed.


With no more to come attention turns to training what I have, so it's an hour for each chick in a show cage and picked up and moved from one end of the cabin to the other, a small bit of string with honey on tied to the top of the cage gets them up on their toes also condition seed in the drinker encourages them to get their heads through the hole ready for the shows.


Giving them a bath each time they’ve been in the show cage helps the new feathers come through.


The hens sitting on dummy eggs will be left till they come off themselves then it's in a flight cage with others to have a moult 


In my opinion the problems with the unsettled hens are continually bad weather and also coccidiosis reoccurring with the damp air.


This week has been a bit of everything very unsettled to say the least, my season is over now with only a few chicks who are feathered up in the nests and I am ready for a holiday after the dreadful season this has been.

On reflection I have tried to analyse things and one which is the most important is the conditions we keep the birds in ,the bird rooms are mostly on similar ideas with insulation in most which keeps the cabins cosy but when you think about it we have created a flask which keeps it warm inside from the elements but the problem is in my opinion is it’s not great for air flow especially when it's cold and wet outside and we try to keep the heat in  at the start of the season by closing the door, most have fans but are they pulling in and extracting air out  enough to keep the conditions right for good breeding ?

In my opinion there is no doubt the weather has been the big problem and speaking to fanciers throughout the country they have all had very similar problems and the weather is the only common denominator so what can we do is the question. 

Years ago, I used to leave the outside door open from April with only a half mesh door in place and a window open at the far end of the bird room giving a good airflow and although it was cold the birds bred well building much better nests than they do now so are we making them less Hardy also with a better airflow less germs bacteria, coccidiosis etc get a foot hold.

I also believe the quality of the seed is at its lowest nutritionally as it has much smaller seeds than years gone by, so have we got the perfect storm by bad weather less hardy birds and constantly unsettled weather.


This week has been more settled with good spells of sunshine and not to much rain and the birds look happier.

Lots of feathers on the floor now and youngsters going into the moult so I am singling them off so that the don't spoil each others plumage especially the tail.

I've noticed the youngsters first choice of food is hard seed in the hoppers much more than years gone by are they trying to tell us something?

I use Premolt 100 in the drinking water right through the moult giving the birds all the vitamins and minerals for a healthy moult and hopefully a good sheen on the feathers ready for the shows.

On reflection of the season my opinion is its been too wet either rain ,fog or high humidity for long periods which has caused  many bacterial and  mould problems which has affected the breeding season dramatically. 

What can we do about it ,well the answer is not much as I have had my dehumidifier becoming full lots of days up to 6 litres a day which on far to much for my bird room,we can of course try to minimise   bath spills by giving less water in them just enough for a wetting,

and drinkers with less water in them but this depends on you keeping an eye on this not easy if your at work also having heaters on during wet periods as electric dry heat drys the air, also not easy if your on a budget these can be set on a humidistat to come on in damp conditions. 

The seed situation will be looked into for better quality seed giving better nutrition or by supplementing the seed we use by adding extra hemp, niger and linseed etc 

Next week will be my last diary as I will be on holiday for a well earned rest. 


it’s been ,I have never had so many problems testing your ability, This is the last one for this year and what a year knowledge and patience to the limit but my conclusions are we have been fighting a few different things at the same time and you cure one only to find the next all in my opinion caused by the damp weather ,I have kept the cabin door closed far too long because of thick coastal fog ,rain and cold and hoped the dehumidifier and heaters would keep things right to no avail ,looking at my cages on cleaning out I have found the sawdust to be damp and the corners where the drinkers are to have black mould beginning to form which I have never seen before so cleaning was ongoing throughout the season every few days.


Looking at the borders that I have got some don't look to be growing like I would hope but time will tell. 


On reflection I have 4 nests of blackbirds feeding on my waste egg food and soaked seed ranging from 5 to 10 weeks old so how did they manage I ask myself as they would be exposed to the same weather and the only difference is they have fresh air constantly as opposed to my borders getting it when I think it’s safe to open the doors ,I do have fans blowing in and fans extracting but it's probably not enough so next year its doors open when I start and we will see.


For me, I’m all finished with the birds in flight cages hoping for a good moult they will have Premolt 100 in the drinking water throughout the moult giving vitamins and amino acids also extra Niger, hemp and linseed as I not convinced the mixed canary seed is good nutritionally but I will be checking body weight throughout for them putting to much weight on. 


I sincerely hope that with the weather a bit better you all have a late rally and breed a few.


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