Flex Free, CBD & Competition Horses

CBD hemp flex free

CBD (Cannabinoids) from hemp has recently been added to the ‘Naturally Occurring Prohibited Substances’ List, known as BETA NOPS. This means that CBD is now considered a banned substance for horses competing under affiliated competition rules.

Our Flex Free joint supplement contains hemp seeds. They are highly nutritious, providing an excellent source of digestible protein as well as unique Omega oils with natural anti-inflammatory properties.

This is where it starts to get complicated!…

Hemp CBD is only found in the flowers and a little in the plant material. The seeds don’t actually contain any CBD at all. BETA NOPS list ‘Cannabinoids from hemp fibre and plant material’, the seeds are not mentioned. But, there is obviously still a risk that some hemp plant material may make it into the seed harvest and cause a very small amount of CBD to be present. This is not likely to have any impact on your horse’s performance what so ever, but if it can be detected, it is breaking competition rules.

If you are not competing your horse under affiliated rules there is no reason to feel concerned. We feed Flex Free to our own horses and are convinced that the inclusion of hemp seeds enhance palatable and effectiveness.

CBD is not harmful to horses in anyway, in fact it is believed it could offer an unfair advantage in managing joint comfort and behaviour. We are currently looking at options for our Flex Free formula. Our hemp supplier is also running tests on the hemp seeds to decide on the future of hemp as a horse feed in the UK.

Learn more about the BETA NOPS prohibited substances here.

Learn more about our Flex Free joint supplement here

Charcoal for Chickens

Charcoal for Chickens

If you have ever had a bonfire in your garden, you may have noticed your hens enjoying scratching, pecking & even dust-bathing at the site the next day. Like many animals, hens are naturally drawn to charcoal for the many benefits it provides.

Scientific research has proven the benefits of feeding charcoal for chickens to meat and laying birds. Feeding charcoal can increase growth rate, improve survival rate, increase egg weight and improve shell quality. 

We may not interested in how quickly our birds are ready for the table, or how many eggs they lay, but improving the health of our chickens is definitely is a priority! 

Why does Charcoal benefit chickens? 

Charcoal can help support a healthy digestion system. It helps to flush out toxins, reduce acidity, maintain the healthy microflora and possibly even help the fight against internal parasites. All these benefits allow your hens to get the most nutritional benefit from their feed and support their natural defences against infections. Maintaining a healthy gut is key to maintaining a healthy hen. 

Charcoal is more than just a food!

Charcoal is also great for dust baths. Try adding a couple of scoops to your girl’s favourite dust bath and it will adsorb excess preen oil and help to deter lice and bugs.

Another useful benefit of charcoal is its ability to reduce ammonia in the manure. This is beneficial for birds that are deep-littered because ammonia can affect their lungs and breathing. Also, reducing ammonia creates a better quality fertilizer for your garden. The added charcoal helps to encourage the natural microbes on your compost heap and in the soil. 

Charcoal is good for your hens’ health, their environment and your garden, so it’s a win -win! Try feeding a separate bowl of charcoal so your hens can self-select, as and when they want it. 

Our Pure Devon Charcoal is top quality, locally made and sustainable.

How to introduce new hens to an established flock

introduce new chickens

It is possible to introduce new hens as I have done it successfully many times. There are a few important considerations, the main one being space. If you are short on space, or your girls are confined to a small run, don’t do it! I firmly believe that most problems can be avoided if they have a large enough area. 

Quarantine

Firstly, if you are not sure about the new girls’ background, it would be advisable to quarantine them for at least a couple of weeks to ensure they are not bringing any illness, mites or lice to your established flock. This will also give you a chance to worm them.  When the time comes there are lots of different ways you could introduce them, but this is what works for us…., 

Space

In the first few days there will be bickering as they try to sort out the pecking order. It is important for all the hens to have enough space so they can get away from each other – so the less dominant can move away from the more dominant and therefore avoid being bullied.    It is important to consider that your new hens may never have met each other either, especially if they are rescue hens. Expect some bickering amoung the new girls as well as with your older ones. 

Food

It is important to provide plenty of food stations. Depending on how they are reacting to each other, you might need more food bowls than you have chickens to allow them all to move around. Having 6 bowls for 5 chickens means there will always be a bowl free for the less dominant girls to choose. Spread the bowls out around the run so they all get their chance to eat without being pushed off.  After a few days you can start to reduce the number of food stations as they gain confidence to share.  You may need more than one water bowl too. 

Timing

You may want to have a separate area at first to allow the groups to meet safely wither side of a fence on day one. This could be a sectioned off area in your run.  I always wait until my original girls have gone to roost before popping the new girls in the coop with them. They are less likely to start fighting if they are already settled for the night and hopefully by the morning they will have started to get used to each other. You will need an early start the following day though! Make sure you are up with the light to let them out into their run and keep checking on them throughout the day. Expect them to be pretty noisy too!

I would recommend keeping your new girls in a run for a few days so they learn where home is. This can be tricky though if your original girls are used to coming in to lay. The first few days will be pretty labour intensive while you juggle keeping the old girls and the new ones happy so make sure you have plenty of time to spend with them. 

Key points:

  • Have plenty of space
  • Never add a single chicken to a flock 
  • Try to keep the numbers fairly even. If you have 10 chickens already, adding 4 – 6 new ones will probably be more successful than adding just 2. 
  • Choose similar sized chickens. 
  • Have lots of food stations and tasty treats to keep them occupied
  • Have an antiseptic spray to hand to treat any injuries. 
  • Make sure you are home for a few days so you can keep checking them
  • Expect it to take a few nights for the new girls to learn where they go to bed. 
  • It might take a couple of weeks or more for them to settle

The best way to cool a horse…

how to cool a horse

Why shouldn’t you scrape?🐴💦


You have probably seen the posts doing the rounds on facebook about the best way to cool a horse – and that you shouldn’t scrape the water off.
Put simply this is why….The theory behind ‘not scraping’ starts with a very hot horse. Perhaps he has been working hard on a hot day and is at risk of heat exhaustion. The quickest and most effective way to cool a horse quickly is by continually applying cold water. If you stop to scrape the water off you are wasting time when you could be applying more cold water. Secondly, It is the process of evaporation that cools the skin – As the water evaporates off, it is cooling the body under it.


Therefore by applying more cold water, and not scraping, you get a double cooling effect.


Now, if you are just giving your horse a quick rinse off because he is a bit sweaty, scraping isn’t going to do any harm. I usually scrape the excess off my horse, otherwise he thinks the water dripping off is more flies!


And, in case you are wondering, pouring cold water over a hot horse isn’t going to cause stress, colic, laminitis or anything else. And excess water doesn’t act as an insulator on the skin. Prior to the Atlanta Olympics a huge amount of research was carried out that disproved all these myths!

Chicken Red Mite – 10 things you should know…

poultry red mite

10 things you need to know about chicken red mite…

1 – They are not red! Most of the time, poultry red mites are a grey-ish colour. They only look red immediately after a blood meal

2 – If you look at them with a magnifying glass they look a bit like ticks, with a similar bulbous body.

3 – They can reproduce in just 7 days after hatching! 

4 – They don’t like sunshine 

5 – they can survive all winter without a feed. Only coming out when the weather warms up

6 – They can get right into the cracks and crevices of a wooden coop making them very hard to find

7 – A large infestation will cause anaemia and even death of your chickens

8 – They don’t feed on humans or other animals, but may be carried by them

9 – Plastic coops will still get red mite but they are much easier to clean and treat.

10 – Coop Clear is our 100% natural solution. Based on a specially developed disulphide extract of garlic, red mites hate it but it is completely safe for you and your chickens. Available as a liquid concentrated and a DE based powder. Use together to treat your coop for chicken red mite.

Can horses eat Sticky Weed Goose Grass?

sticky weed goose grass for horses

Sticky Weed for Horses, also known as Sticky Willy, Clivers, Goose Grass or Cleavers (Galium aparine).

This is a very useful ‘weed’ and most horses love the taste. Sticky weed supports the lymphatic system and is a diuretic. This means that it is particularly good for flushing out swellings and inflammation. It is good for allergies, for supporting the liver and kidneys and cleanses the blood.

Can horses eat sticky weed goose grass?

Yes!

Pick a large bunch and offer it to your horses 2 or 3 times a week. It is particularly good for reducing leg swelling when horses are stabled and can help horses with swollen lymph glands due to allergy. It is very nutritious and is a good way to naturally supplement the diet if your horse is on limited grazing.

If you think your horse is a little too enthusiastic about eating Sticky Weed it may indicate an underlying condition. A horse I bought many years ago seemed to actively seek it out when I first bought her. It turned out she had liver issues and was probably craving the Clivers because she knew they were good for her!…

you may also like: Why do horses love cow parsley?

Why do horses love Cow Parsley?

cow parsley for horses

Why do horses love Cow Parsley, and is it good for them?

It is almost impossible to ride out in the countryside during Spring without your horse trying to grab the Cow Parsley as they pass. Mine absolutely love it, like a sweet shop growing in the hedgerows. But is it good for them?

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus Sylvestris) is a member of the carrot family – perhaps this is why horses love the taste so much? In traditional herbal medicine, Cow parsley has been used to support the digestive system, it is good for the kidneys and the respiratory system and has even been used as a mosquito repellent. 

As with all things, moderation is key but allowing your horse some mouthfuls of Cow Parsley is only going to benefit them, especially when our modern grazing lacks any herbal variety. You could try filling a small haynet with wilted nettles, cow parsley, dandelions & clivers (goose grass) For an all round herbal boost. This would be especially good for horses on limited or poor grazing. 

But Beware: 

You must be absolutely certain that you are picking Cow Parley, not the very similar looking, but deadly Hemlock. 

Can Chickens Taste?

can chickens taste

If you keep chickens you will know that they have likes and dislikes, and some are just plain fussy when it comes to food choices. So, it may surprise you to learn that a hen’s ability to taste is actually quite poor.

The chicken’s tongue is small and tough and they have far fewer taste buds than we do – probably less than 500, compared to our 9000! Also, the chickens taste buds are situated at the back of the tongue so they are committed to swallow before they get any sensation for taste. 

The chicken’s brain has developed over time for sight and sound, so it is unlikely that they can smell much either.  But, what they can do, is learn. It is likely that they have learnt what is good and what isn’t, and they have a great ability for selecting healthy plants and bugs over those that may be toxic or difficult to eat. 

Research on chickens taste, likes and dislikes is scarce, but anyone who knows chickens knows they have foods they love, and foods they hate, even if science can’t fully explain this yet.

Looking for some tasty products for your chickens? Check out our poultry range here

Poultry Red Mite

poultry red mite

What are red mites?

Poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) are blood feeding parasites that live in your coop. They come out at night for a blood meal from your hens. Red mite are notoriously difficult to eradicate because, not only do they reproduce in 7-9 days, but they can survive without a blood meal for several months!

Red mites will feed from any bird and can be brought into your flock by wild birds, or another carrier like a dog or squirrel. They don’t feed from mammals but they may hitch a ride! During the day they live in the cracks and crevices of your coop, and once your hens have gone to roost they come out to feed. Their short life cycle means that their population grows rapidly. If left untreated your hens will stop laying, become anaemic and may even die.  

Wooden coops offer more hiding places, particularly if they have a felt roof. It is really important to do a thorough check every week.

How to Eradicate Red Mite

To eradicate poultry red mite, it is essential is to treat as soon as you notice any clusters. Repeat treatment every 3 – 4 days. Just a few days delay can allow the population to explode. 

We recommend our Coop Clear Powder to sprinkle under the bedding and in the nest boxes every time you clean out your coop during the summer months. Then, use the Coop Clear liquid in a spray to directly target any clusters and to really get into the corners and joins within your coop.  Coop Clear contains a patented di-sulphide extract from garlic which bugs hate. By making their environment unpleasant it will slow their reproductive rate and reduce numbers. Coop Clear is completely natural so there is no risk to hens or humans. The spray can be used even while the hens are in the coop.  Buy the bundle here.

Delicious Dandelions!

dandelions

Did you know that dandelions are packed with nutrients? They should probably be considered a super food rather than a weed!

Dandelion leaves contain more vitamins than many fruits and vegetables and are a great source of antioxidants. The root contains inulin, a type of soluble fibre with is great for digestive health. 

Dandelions have anti-inflammatory properties, help control blood sugar, support healthy joints and a healthy liver. Traditionally, they were referred to as ‘the pee herb’ as they act as a natural diuretic. With their great mineral profile some consider them a natural electrolyte too. 

Dandelions can be fed fresh or dried to your horses, dogs and chickens. For raw-fed dogs, add a few fresh dandelion leaves to their meal. If your chickens don’t have access to grass, put some dandelion leaves in a bird feeder for them to peck at. Horses also benefit from a few handfuls, especially if they are on restricted grazing. Dandelion leaves will help add natural nutrients and variety to their diet.