By Anne Perdeaux
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Keeping chickens is cool! It’s also a fascinating hobby for all the family – but are you ready to join the hen party? Try our fun quiz to find out
(Find the answers below the questions)
Q.1 Why have brown or white eggs, when you can have blue or green? Do you know which breed of hen produces these turquoise eggs:
a Appenzeller b Araucana c Ancona
Q.2 A sneaky hen has been laying her eggs in the flower-bed, and you don’t know how old they are. Eggs can be tested by placing them in a bowl of cold water - but which of these is the freshest:
a The egg that sinks and lies flat on the bottom
b The egg that floats on the surface
c The egg that stands upright in the water
Q.3 Are there any regulations to prevent you from keeping a few hens in the garden:
a No – chickens count as domestic pets
b A licence from DEFRA will be required
c Property deeds or by-laws may ban poultry keeping
Q.4 Which of these breeds would make ideal pets for small children:
a Pekin b Leghorn c Brahma
Q.5 Are chickens:
a Carnivores b Omnivores c Herbivores
Q.6 What are often the first signs of red mite:
a Grey ash-like dust in the henhouse
b Feathers falling out
c Rough, crusty leg scales
Q.7 You are offered a ‘trio’ of chickens. Would this usually consist of:
a Three hens b Two hens and a cockerel c Any combination of male and female birds
Q.8 Which of these hens would be the least likely to go broody:
a Orpington b Silkie c Warren
Q.9 Chickens have been domesticated for many centuries, but in what kind of habitat did their wild ancestors live:
a Jungle b Grassy plains c Deserts
Q.10 Why do hens stop or reduce egg-laying in the winter months:
a Because of the cold weather
b As a result of the lack of light
c They’ve used up their egg supplies in the spring and summer
Q.11 Which of these chickens will probably be good flyers:
a Vorwerk b Sussex c Cochin
Q.12 What difference will a cockerel make:
a The hens will lay more eggs
b Eggs may be fertilised, and can be incubated
c Fertile eggs cannot be eaten
Q13 You need a regular supply of eggs for the family, plus some to sell to the neighbours. Which type of hen would probably be most suitable:
a Bantam b Pure breed c Hybrid
Q.14 Which of these chickens is undoubtedly showing signs of poor health:
a The one lying down with a wing outstretched
b The hen that stays in the nest box all day, appears lethargic, and feels hot to the touch
c The bird sitting in a hunched position
Q.15 When choosing a henhouse all the following points are important, but which is essential:
a Suitable perches b Adequate ventilation c Enough nest boxes
Q.16 What do chickens need to keep their skin and feathers clean:
a A bath of shallow water
b Regular grooming by their owners
c Dry soil
Q.17 What is the gizzard:
a A muscular organ that breaks down food
b The part of the digestive tract where food is stored
c A general term for a chicken’s entire digestive system
Q.18 Searching for a missing hen, you find she’s made a cosy nest under a bush, and is sitting on a pile of eggs! The cockerel has been busy lately, and the patter of tiny claws is an attractive thought, but what should you do to encourage a happy event:
a Leave her alone – she knows what she’s doing
b Remove both hen and eggs to the nest-box, so she has company
c Set her up in her own private coop
Q.19 What is a pullet:
a A hen less than a year old
b An unsexed chick
c Another name for a hen
Q.20 The recently adopted ex-battery hens don’t seem very grateful for their improved circumstances – they’ve started fighting. Why is this:
a They hate each other, and should be separated immediately
b They are establishing their pecking order
c The change of lifestyle has made them aggressive
ARE YOU AN EGG HEAD OR A CHICKEN NUGGET? The answers
Q1 (b) Araucanas are sometimes known as the ‘Easter egg chicken’, and are the only hens known to lay eggs with green/blue shells.
Q2 (a) A fresh egg sinks to the bottom of a bowl of water. One that floats on the surface will be bad. An egg that tilts upwards won’t be the freshest, but should still be usable.
Q3 (c) Some house deeds or local by-laws may prohibit the keeping of chickens. Chickens are regarded as farm animals, but you only need to register with DEFRA if intending to keep more than 50 birds.
Q4 (a) Pekin bantams are usually very friendly and easy to tame.
Q5 (b) Chickens are omnivorous.
Q6 (a) Red mite are difficult to see, but piles of ash-like dust are a reliable indicator of their presence. Roughened leg scales are usually caused by scaly leg mite, and this condition will also require attention.
Q7 (b) A trio is two hens and a cockerel.
Q8 (c) The Warren has been developed for commercial egg production. Broody hens don’t lay, so this instinct has been bred out of them, although some may still go broody occasionally.
Q9 (a) The domestic chicken is descended from the Red Jungle Fowl.
Q10 (b) The hen’s egg-laying is connected to the amount of daylight hours. Although hybrids may continue laying throughout winter, their production will usually drop, while some pure-breeds will stop completely.
Q11 (a) The Vorwerk is capable of being an excellent flyer, whereas the heavy Sussex and Cochin are unlikely to get airborne.
Q12 (b) A cockerel will make little difference to egg production and is only really necessary to fertilise eggs for breeding.
Q13 (c) Hybrids have been developed to give a steady supply of eggs. Some of the pure-bred ‘utility’ strains may also be good layers, but are unlikely to match the hybrids for continuous production.
Q14 (c) Sitting in a hunched position with a drooping tail - when a hen looks this unhappy, she is almost certainly unwell. Chickens don’t readily display symptoms of ill-health, as this makes them vulnerable to the rest of the flock.
Q15 (b) A henhouse must have enough ventilation - positioned so that the birds are not in a direct draught.
Q16 (c) Access to a place to dust bath is important, as this is how chickens clean their feathers and skin.
Q17 (a) Food is stored in the crop and passes to the gizzard to be broken down by contraction of the strong muscular walls. Chickens eat small pieces of grit to act as ‘grindstones’ in their gizzards.
Q18 (c) Ideally, the hen should be settled in a small coop, which will also become a secure nursery for the new chicks. She may dislike being moved, but if she is really broody, will soon settle down on her eggs again (it’s usually better to move her at night).
Q19 (a) A female less than a year old is usually referred to as a pullet. A POL (point of lay) pullet is one that is approaching the age when she should start laying.
Q20 (b) Whenever new hens are introduced there will be usually be a dispute over who goes where in the pecking order. Ex-battery hens have no experience of living in a flock and will need to sort themselves out, although they should be watched to make sure an individual hen isn’t being unfairly bullied.
How did you do?
18-20 correct: Congratulations - an eggs-cellent result!
12-17 correct: Showing promise of eggs-pertise
0-11 correct: Keep reading Your Chickens - you’ll soon be an eggs-pert!