Skip diving and treadle feeders

The chickens have affected my behaviour in two previously unheard of ways. I’ve taken to skip diving and checking out the cheap shelf in Morrisons. All in a good cause, natch. And here are the four good causes:

Opposite the allotment site a house is being refurbished. It’s nearing completion so the joiners and landscape gardeners are there. It started when I spotted some offcuts of rather nice quality wood (from a staircase, I suspect), and realised that they would do very well to stand a feeder on. I don’t think that I’ve ever retrieved anything from a skip before. But once over the initial embarrassment, it can easily become a habit.

In the background of the picture above, you can see a wheelbarrow full of superior quality turf, surplus to requirements. It’s going in front of the run to form a sort of “chicken patio”. I’m sure that they’ll scratch it to pieces, but nothing but the best for our Ixworths.

As for the cheap shelf, I’ve discovered that Messrs Morrisons mark down their veggies to 19p at the end of the day. Now a nice head of broccoli or a cabbage makes a healthy treat for the chickens, and at that price they can have a veggie feast every day. There’s a head of romanesco in today’s pictures.

I’m compiling a list of things they like and things that they spurn. Probably the number one vegetable favourite is carrot leaves, and of course sweetcorn cobs, followed by most brassicas. They’re not so keen on sprouts, and positively turned their noses up at cavolo nero. Mind you, I’m not so keen on kale myself, no matter how exotically named. And we were assured by seasoned chicken keepers that there was nothing that chickens liked more than nettles. I got myself fairly thoroughly stung seeking out the tender young nettle shoots, but they wouldn’t have anything to do with them.

The other oddity is the treadle feeder. The common wisdom is that they soon get used to the treadle, which opens a flap for them to gain access to their food, while keeping it dry and vermin-proof. Here’s senior hen at the treadle:

The trouble is that although the cockerel and senior hen use the treadle with confidence, middle hen rarely seems to use it, and I’ve never seen junior hen on it at all. She just gathers up the scattered pellets around it.

So this morning I tried hanging up a small plastic feeder with layers’ pellets in it alongside the treats tray. Instant success. Not only did junior hen eat heartily from it, they all preferred it.

Hmmmm. Maybe a rethink on feeders is required. I’ve certainly got other and larger feeders, even some rainproof ones. I’ll experiment.

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