IMG_0035

Hatching is underway at Mudchute, with the first of Spring’s arrivals making their way into the world. We welcomed our first ducklings last week. The newly hatched ducklings include a mix of Aylesbury and Runner ducklings and will be joined by further ducklings and chicks over the coming weeks and months.

These precocious youngsters spend nearly a month developing in the egg and are capable of walking and feeding themselves shortly after breaking free of the egg. However, breaking the eggshell from within is hard work. Chicks and ducklings first begin with an “internal pip” internally breaking into the air sac a the wide end of the egg, taking their first breaths. They then break the egg shell (an “external pip”) before they begin to unzip the shell.

Watching the growth and development of the embryos is fascinating and we’ve shared some of the process previously here on the blog. We’re also happy to share the experience with local school groups who participate in our Hatch and Brood programme, where eggs are incubated right in the classroom. Good luck to all of our participating schools! To find out more about the programme including how your school can take part, please visit our Education pages.


IMG_8192

The following message about Avian Influenza prevention measures comes from our Farm Manager, Tom Davis.

You may have seen or heard in the media recently that DEFRA (the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs) have implemented a bird flu prevention zone calling for captive birds to be housed where practical. Here at Mudchute, we have immediately housed as many birds as we can accommodate within the current penning we have here at the farm whilst not wanting to compromise the birds welfare in a negative way too much.

Other measures we have put in place are as follows:

  • Minimising direct and indirect contact between poultry and wild birds, by shutting all bird housing during the day.
  • Making sure that feed and water cannot be accessed by wild birds. All of our birds water is now covered, with feed only being offered in the birds evening housing once shut in.
  • To avoid the transfer of contamination between premises,we are cleansing and disinfecting all of the equipment used to feed, clean and water the poultry, staff footwear being cleansed before and after entering poultry housing.
  • Reducing the number of people entering areas where poultry or captive birds are kept.
  • Carrying on with an effective vermin control programme around buildings where poultry or captive birds are kept. We ask for your help with this by not feeding the squirrels and/pigeons any peanuts or other treats.
  • Thoroughly cleansing and disinfecting housing and equipment at the end of its occupation.

This is why a large majority of our birds are housed. We are in regular contact with our local enrionmental health department as well DEFRA who are happy that we are working within the regulations laid out.

Local and national risk is low and the above actions are only preventative measures.

IMG_8187

If you have any further questions please contact Tom Davis, Farm Manager at farm@mudchute.org.

Thank you for your continued support.


IMG_1784

IMG_1798Our other new chicken breed at Mudchute is rather chunkier than the tiny Dutch Bantam. In comparison to the dainty bantam, these birds look a bit like chicken weightlifters! These well-muscled birds are our new Indian Game, also know as the Cornish Game in America.

First records of the breed date back to the 1850s. It is believed that Indian Game birds trace their origins back to pit fighting with ancestors including Aseel, Malay, Old English Game and a breed similar to Sumatra Game. However, birds proved far more valuable for their large quantities breast meat rather than fighting ability and continue to be prized as meat birds.

Here in the UK, only two colours are accepted, the original “dark” variety like our birds, and the “Double Blue Laced” which was introduced in 1887. Dark birds like ours have a rich green glossy sheen or lustre to their black feathers, which you may spot in the right light. If you take a closer look, some of their other feathers show the beautiful patterning called lacing and this particularly visible in hens. For more about this unusual breed, visit the Indian Game Club.

IMG_1790