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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 birdshave 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 

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