Windowsill Propagator Heat Mat

Our chilli pepper seeds have germinated much sooner than usual thanks to a windowsill propagator heat mat. We mentioned in a recent post we were using one in a trial and would blog about it if we liked it.

In just 8 days the first seedlings appeared with more popping up over the following days. As expected, a couple of seeds haven’t germinated but we have more than enough seedlings due to sowing more than we need.

The windowsill heat mat we are using looks like this:

It’s simple to use, just plug it in and place on the windowsill of your choice. We covered our seed trays with clear lids to help with humidity and kept the heat mat on for most of the day, switching off at night (purely for our own peace of mind!) allowing a radiator to provide a source of heat. The heat mat fits a standard size windowsill without hanging over the edge and can take up to two full sized trays, much more if the trays are smaller. It heats up quickly and doesn’t get too hot to the touch.

If you’re interested in getting this particular heat mat you’ll find it here. Priced at £16.49 with free UK delivery it’s a cheaper alternative to most heated propagators but still an expense. If this doesn’t suit your budget it’s still possible to germinate some seed by using a radiator or warm airing cupboard. Once germinated, seedlings can grow at lower temperatures in a bright room. It will take longer but you should see some decent results.

If you do decide to get one please do let us know how you’re getting on.

Feathers and Beaky Expandable Veg Holder Product Review

Poultry and other captive birds across the UK still remain on bird flu lockdown, this is a necessary step to prevent spread of disease but is proving to be a tricky situation for farmers and the back yard chicken keeper as the problem goes on.

For us, putting our chickens on lockdown wasn’t a difficult affair thanks to our lovely walk-in runs with covered roofs, they still receive plenty of light and fresh air and egg laying hasn’t suffered. If, like ours, your flock is used to free-ranging often, suddenly being cooped up 24/7 with little to do can have a detrimental effect on behaviour leading to increased boredom bullying or feather pecking. Luckily for us our chicken runs are also really spacious, the problem however is boredom and that’s where things can get tricky. Touch wood bullying has been to a minimum, just the usual behaviour you’d expect to see within a flock but there are ways to improve welfare during this difficult time. So, what can you do to prevent boredom for your chickens permanently locked in?

feathers and beaky veg holder

feathers and beaky

Giving them something to have a good peck at (rather than each other) is a great way to prevent unwanted bullying. Spike’s World kindly sent us a Feathers and Beaky expandable veg holder for our hens to trial. The design is simple to use, just pop the vegetables inside the expandable springy holder and put the lid on (we used winter cabbage), the holder can then be hung from any height by attaching string.

feathers and beaky vegetable holder
Meet the testers! Phoebe, Buttercup and Daisy line up to inspect the vegetable holder.

At first our girls were very unsure of this strange flying cabbage-thing and chose to hang back and ignore it, the springy movement of the vegetable holder scared them as they cautiously pecked at it so we tried adding a handful of loose sweetcorn (their favourite treat), stuffing it inside the cabbage leaves.

feathers and beaky veg holder

We knew they couldn’t resist and in next to no time they were pecking at the veg holder with no fear whatsoever…..

feathers and beaky veg holder for chickens

feathers and beaky veg holder

img_1979blog

feathers and beaky veg holder

feathers and beaky

feathers and beaky veg holder

Even ‘cutting strange shapes’ to get to the contents…..

feathers and beaky veg holder

You can add vegetables such as sweetcorn cobs, lettuce, cabbage and greens etc. The holder keeps the veg clean and dry and prevents unwanted visitors such as rats. Raise the holder slightly to encourage extra exercise! The girls love pecking at their veg holder for hours on end, it really helps with boredom. Give it a try for your lockdown chickens.

You can purchase a Feathers and Beaky expandable veg holder from Spike’s World here or from the British Hen Welfare Trust online shop here.