Country Smallholding - - Moulting -

QMy very noisy Black Rock is now very quiet, not eat­ing, ly­ing with wings spread and pant­ing at times. Her drop­pings are di­ar­rhoea. I have some pro­bi­otic, so could I give some of this on some grapes. I do use cider vine­gar, but your dose rate seems a bit higher. Can you help?

VIC­TO­RIA ROBERTS SAYS: We have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing very hot weather this sum­mer and keep­ing wa­ter fresh and clean and mak­ing sure hens have enough shade is al­ways a prob­lem. Their feath­ers are so in­su­lat­ing that they can strug­gle to keep cool. Most peo­ple know to keep feed dry in a ver­min-proof bin and use it be­fore the use-by date on the bag. What has hap­pened on many oc­ca­sions this sum­mer is that the feed bin has been in the strong sun­shine caus­ing the feed to sweat in the ubiq­ui­tous plas­tic bags. This can lead to mould and thus tox­i­c­ity, so when dol­ing out feed keep an eye on the pel­lets for any that are ei­ther stuck to­gether or ob­vi­ously mouldy and throw those bits away. Then move any feed bins that are likely to be in the sun­shine or put a re­flec­tive cover over the bin so that it does not get as hot. The nor­mal dose rate for us­ing cider vine­gar is 50ml:500ml for one week a month. There is no need un­der nor­mal con­di­tions to use it all the time, but any stress that the hens have — such as ad­verse weather, a chil­dren’s party, a thun­der­storm — will be coun­ter­acted by the cider vine­gar as it en­hances their im­mune sys­tem. For­tu­nately the hen in ques­tion has now re­cov­ered.

This bag is in a cool place, but those left in strong sun­shine can prompt the feed to sweat

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