My Favourite Things

Grant Br­ere­ton, a poul­try breeder and an au­thor­ity on poul­try ge­net­ics, chooses his favourite prod­ucts for hen­keep­ing

Your Chickens - - Contents - With Grant Br­ere­ton

When asked to list my favourite items when it comes to this won­der­ful hobby of chicken keep­ing, it wasn’t a dif­fi­cult task. There are a few things with which I couldn’t be with­out and have been in­valu­able to me over the years. Here are my top choices:

1 Creative Poul­try Breed­ing Book Orig­i­nally printed in 1985 by the late Dr Clive Care­foot, this book is re­garded as the poul­try bi­ble when it comes to breed­ing, rear­ing and show­ing ad­vice. Dr Care­foot was a per­sonal friend of mine and had an in­nate abil­ity with stock that was unique. His lu­cid writ­ing style and down-to-earth ap­proach make for a fas­ci­nat­ing read that will im­prove the skills of any hen­keeper. In my view this is the best book that’s avail­able when it comes to learn­ing how to keep pure breeds go­ing and im­prove them. The gen­eral ad­vice, too, is in­valu­able. Avail­able from: Emer­son Books

2 Poul­try Club Leg Rings Ever since re­turn­ing from a Dutch show [where closed leg ring­ing is com­pul­sory] I have opted to use the of­fi­cial Poul­try Club of Great Bri­tain leg rings. They are fit­ted to the birds at around 6-8 weeks of age and slide over their toes. They can­not be fit­ted at a later point and the only way of re­moval is to cut them off with pli­ers. They are cheap at roughly 25p each and are a great help for track­ing in­di­vid­ual birds. Each ring has its own iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber. Avail­able from: Poul­try Club of Great Bri­tain

3 Brin­sea Oc­tagon 20 In­cu­ba­tor Dur­ing my breed­ing and show­ing ca­reer, the name Brin­sea has fea­tured promi­nently and I have al­ways been an avid user of their prod­ucts. Last year I treated my­self to an Oc­tagon 20 with turn cra­dle and it was run­ning ev­ery time I had a broody sit­ting (in case she gave up or needed more

fer­tile eggs if the ones be­neath her weren’t fer­tile). I was re­ally im­pressed with the re­sults so would rec­om­mend this ma­chine to any­one. Avail­able from: Brin­sea and other re­tail­ers

4 Brin­sea Mini Ad­vance In­cu­ba­tor The Mini Ad­vance is a 7-egg dome in­cu­ba­tor which is like a toy to any chicken keeper and is a lot of fun. I found mine so easy to use and if the eggs were fer­tile they hatched. These are ideal lit­tle in­cu­ba­tors for schools and fam­i­lies start­ing out with a few chick­ens and want­ing to hatch a few of their own, be­cause ev­ery move­ment of the chicks can be ob­served through the plas­tic dome cover. Avail­able from: Brin­sea and other re­tail­ers

5 Fancy Feed Breed­ers Pel­lets I was made aware of the dif­fer­ence be­tween breed­ers and lay­ers pel­lets many years ago when owner of the for­mer Wern­las Col­lec­tion of Rare Poul­try, Shaun Ham­mon, was get­ting his own mixes of breed­ers pel­lets made by a lo­cal com­pany. With his op­er­a­tion be­ing of such a scale, he wouldn’t have opted to pay for ex­tra vi­ta­mins and min­er­als to be added to his lay­ers pel­lets if it wasn’t nec­es­sary. He told me the two va­ri­eties were worlds apart (this was also Dr Care­foot’s view), and since then I have al­ways used breed­ers pel­lets for max­i­mum egg pro­duc­tion, fer­til­ity and qual­ity of egg and chick. I, like many oth­ers, find that the

Fancy Feed com­pany make ex­cel­lent breed­ers pel­lets. Avail­able from: Fancy Feed Com­pany and other re­tail­ers

6 Hey­gates Baby Chick Crumbs There are ar­gu­ments for and against the use of ACS (an anti coc­cio­dosis prepa­ra­tion) in chick crumbs and grow­ers pel­lets, but I have al­ways been a fan of the feed that was med­i­cated. My birds have al­ways grown well on Hey­gates so I am re­luc­tant to change it now, and have al­ways been im­pressed with the price and qual­ity of this prod­uct. Avail­able from: Hey­gates & Other Re­tail­ers

7 Na­ture’s Grub Di­atoma­ceous Earth For me, hav­ing some form of Di­atoma­ceous Earth on­site is a must be­cause you never know when that next out­break of mite or lice will take hold. I’m al­ways vig­i­lant when it comes to my stock, so any in­fes­ta­tions on birds or in hous­ing are al­ways min­i­mal, but it’s good to have some pow­der that can be used to ease the bur­den of in­di­vid­u­als or treat the cracks in be­tween tim­ber in a hen house. I find this prod­uct ef­fec­tive and a very rea­son­able price. I al­ways use a mask when ap­ply­ing it. Avail­able from: Na­ture’s Grub & Other Re­tail­ers 8 My Brooder My brooder came in handy this year when I wanted to hatch some eggs be­fore any hens were ready to go broody. It com­prised of a large in­side rab­bit hutch, gal­vanised feeder, 3-litre drinker, some shav­ings and a hang­ing heat lamp. Avail­able from: Farm & Pet Place

9 My Lit­tleacre house I have been im­pressed with Lit­tleacre houses since I first saw them many years ago at The Na­tional Show. They are in­tel­li­gently de­signed and made of qual­ity tim­ber. The nest boxes are sit­u­ated on the side and the perches are re­mov­able and higher than the next boxes to dis­cour­age overnight foul­ing. The feed and water is ac­cessed from the back, be­low the re­mov­able drop­pings board and there is an ex­ter­nal pop­hole on the run. A great prod­uct. Avail­able from: www.lit­tlea­credi­rect.co.uk/

ABOVE: Eggs ready to hatch in Brin­sea’s Oc­to­gan 20 in­cu­ba­tor (3) BE­LOW: Poul­try Club leg rings (2)

ABOVE: Grant’s Lit­tleacre house (9) LEFT: His Mini Ad­vance in­cu­ba­tor from Brin­sea (4) BE­LOW: Breeder and show pel­lets from Fancy Feed (5)

Grant’s brooder (8)

Hey­gate’s Baby Chick Crumbs (6)

INSET: Di­atoma­ceous Earth from Na­ture’s Grub (7) ABOVE: Ap­ply­ing Di­atoma­ceous Earth from Na­ture’s Grub

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