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Category Archives: Pet Advice

Deep-cleaning an Eglu Go or Eglu Go Up with a Steam Cleaner

Using a steam cleaner to clean any Eglu can be a very effective way. It will not affect the plastic, whereas all surfaces are cleaned, disinfected, and all killed mites, insects and dust are blown away by the power of the steam. As a bonus the surfaces will be dry in no time, because the plastic is warmed up.

Deep-cleaning an Eglu Go once or twice a year is extra easy if one follows these steps:

1. Take of the top panel (lid)

2. Unscrew both side panels and bumpers, and take these off as well. For a complete cleaning you may want to disconnect the run as well.

3. You now have access to all inner and outer surfaces. Clean them thoroughly with the steam cleaner, if required using an old dish brush as well.

4. Clean the bumpers, panels and top lid in the same way.

5. Re-assemble the run and the coop.

This cleaning method has been used for several years now by our Dutch team-member and is guaranteed to keep your Eglu in a top condition, without damaging any parts!

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This entry was posted in Chickens


Rescuing ex-battery hens – A photo diary – Part 1

Nathalie is the owner of the Instagram account My Backyard Paradise. Together with her husband and their three teenage daughters she runs her own ‘mini backyard farm’ in Belgium. The beautiful pictures she shares with her Instagram followers show that this truly is a backyard paradise. In June 2018 Nathalie decided to extend her mini farm with three ex-battery hens. Follow their journey to recovery in the two-part photo diary she kept for us.

A laying hen, one that can lay up to 300 eggs a year, is what we were missing. During autumn, our purebred chickens don’t lay any eggs for a long time. They instead take spend their time and energy renewing their plumage and waiting for the days to get longer again. Last year we didn’t have any eggs for over 3 months despite having more than ten hens! We decided that if we wanted fresh eggs during autumn, we had to buy laying hens.

We always buy our new chickens from a smaller trader or a hobby breeder, so we can actually see the chickens and know they have access to grass, clean water and decent housing. But we like the idea of rescuing a few laying hens destined for slaughter by giving them a good life in our garden. The life of battery hens ends after just sixteen months. Their bodies need time to recover and their egg production will stop. This means a loss for the industry. Besides that, after each moult the egg production will drop, and the industry does not accept that!

So that’s what we did. First thing to do was find a place where you can rescue commercial laying hens from slaughter. The first option we came across was www.redeenlegkip.be (‘Save a battery hen’), a Belgian website where you can buy or adopt a laying hen. If you decide to adopt a hen, you’ll pay a monthly contribution of €5 and get 24 egg per month in return. When you adopt or buy a chicken, the organization ensures the chickens are collected from the companies and given appropriate first aid. However, we wanted to experience this ourselves. After continuing my search, I came across another Belgian website www.lespoulesheureuses.org (recently also available in France). They give you the opportunity to collect the chickens yourself, so you’ll know the address and code (the one you can find on the egg) of the company.

We then had to wait for the right weather. The best time to save a laying hen is when you can give her the ideal conditions to recover. They often don’t have many feathers left and have probably never been outside their barn, where the temperature is always at least 18 degrees! They’ve never seen rain and you should also be careful with draught and wind. You don’t want them to get ill, they have experienced more than enough stress already.

Week 1

On June 16th 2018, it is finally happening. I reserved three Isa Brown chickens from a code 2 company. Code 2 means the eggs from this company are sold as free-range eggs. Sounds good, you might think…

Free-range eggs from the commercial industry come from chickens that only have access to barns. They have perches, nesting boxes and scratching areas with some straw on the floor. There is a maximum of nine chickens per square meter and debeaking is allowed. This is probably not what most of us have in mind when we think of free-range chickens…

My youngest nine-year-old daughter is joining me on my way to pick up the chickens. I tell her in advance that the chickens will be in a bad shape and will look nothing like the chickens we have at home, that she isn’t allowed to pick them up and cuddle them, and that we have to take care of them first. We are not the only ones here today to buy chickens. An older couple buys two chickens and there is someone with a trailer with 50 chicken cages. People keep on coming. We ask a staff member if we can have three chickens. He looks at my daughter first before turning around to get them for us.  Of course, we are not allowed in the barns, we’re not even allowed to take a picture. The chickens we get are in a much better condition than the ones the older couple got, ours still have a lot of feathers. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken my daughter with me, to get a more honest impression of the condition of an average laying hen. The man probably had our daughter in mind when he chose our chickens. After paying €3 per chicken, the life these chickens deserve can finally begin. At home everything is ready for them. After driving 10 minutes, my daughter and I look at each other. It’s smelly in the car. And it’s a strange smell, not like normal chicken manure, but a chemical, unnatural smell. The chickens are quiet, I hope they will survive the one hour drive home…

When we get home, we inspect them carefully. They seem numb, or are they frozen with fear? They still have lots of feathers, but they are dull and not shiny like the feathers of a healthy chicken. Their feathers are tangled and the tail feathers don’t look good at all. Their gaze is blank and their comb is very pale. Their toenails are way too long and curly, and there is manure stuck under them. Clearly, they haven’t been able to scratch around that much. The beaks of our chickens have been trimmed. This means the top of the beak has been cut off when they were only ten days old. This is very painful and is done to prevent feather pecking. Chickens do this when they are stressed, for example due to limited foraging opportunities.

It’s time to treat them against parasites such as lice and worms. We use Diatom Earth, a natural product used against all kinds of parasites. They need to be quarantined first. For this, we give them a temporary home in our Eglu Classic from Omlet. It has a 2 meter run and we can easily move it around in the garden so they have access to fresh grass every day. It’s also very easy to clean. We lift the chickens out of their cage and watch carefully how their feet touch the grass for the very first time. They seem surprised and for a few minutes they just stand still, until one hen realizes she can, and is allowed to, move. Slowly but surely, they cautiously start to explore their run. While the children are watching the chickens, I add the first dose of medication to their drinking water. We use Avimite, a product against lice and mites. The first week they need this on a daily basis, then weekly for the next five weeks. They soon find their water and it looks like they haven’t had any for days. Usually we don’t feed our chickens layers pellets so I had to buy them, because this is the only thing our new chickens have ever had. In the evening we help the chickens into their Eglu where they can safely spend the night.

When I open the coop the next morning they don’t want to come out. After an hour we get them out of their coop and notice they have already laid three eggs, one in the nesting box and two on the roosting bars. Because of the medication, we cannot eat their eggs for the next few weeks. Sad, but we just don’t want to take any risk. We have to discard them.

The rest of the day the chickens sit outside. They eat clover and grass for the first time and seem to realize this is not bad at all. The second and third night we have to help them into their Eglu, but from then on they finally realize that this is their new home. In the morning they come outside when I open the door and after a few days they only use the nest box to lay their eggs. Their eyes are getting brighter and they start to establish the pecking order. They are more lively than the first few days, but still nothing compared to our other chickens. Although they aren’t afraid anymore when we come near, they don’t allow us to touch them. This is hard for the children who want to cuddle them to make them forget their past. But the chickens first have to get used to their new environment, to us, and to their new life.

Week 2

We only have to repeat the red mite treatment once a week now and we can start with the deworming. This treatment, which they need five days in a row, can also be added to their drinking water. The hens give us two to three eggs every day. It’s now time to gradually change their diet. They are used to their new home, they’re not scared anymore when we come near or when our dog wants to sniff at them. They clearly defined their pecking order. We want the very best for our animals, and this also includes a rich and varied diet. Our chickens get Garvo but our 3 laying hens need something extra, a mineral and vitamin boost. We give them Alfamix, a very rich grain mixture with pellets and amphipods. But when I mix this with their layer pellets, I notice that they only eat their pellets and not the new food. They do eat a lot of grass and clover. Slowly but surely their combs are getting redder.

During the weekend, our youngest daughter decides it is time for them to free range in the garden. They love it, and really enjoy the dust baths. But trying to get them back into their Eglu is less enjoyable. Finally they decide to go back into their home. Our daughter has learnt that they are not ready to discover the great outdoors just yet…

Come back in a couple of weeks time to read part two of the diary!

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This entry was posted in Chickens


How to care for an older chicken

On average backyard chickens live to an age of six to eight years, but there are of course exceptions. How old a chicken will become depends amongst other things on the breed and how a chicken is kept. Heavy layers exhaust themselves with a lifespan of just three years, others can live up to ten years. According to the Guinness World Records world’s oldest chicken is Matilda, a Red Pyle hen from Alabama that died at the age of sixteen (1990-2006). A hen is considered a senior around the age of five. If you are not sure about the age of a chicken, there are signs that will tell you your hen is getting older.

As a chicken gets older the texture of the comb will slightly change and she will likely have some scars from being pecked by other chickens. The feet and legs tend to thicken and if your hen has spurs, you know she’s not a youngster anymore (generally chickens grow spurs around three years of age). Arthritis may cause your older chicken to move stiffly and you might notice she walks a bit slower and more carefully. And of course the egg production of an older hen will decrease. The average chicken lays eggs for four to five years on a regular basis, with the peak of the egg production around 18-24 months. Already after two years, the egg production tends to drop. When you start seeing soft or thin-shelled and misshapen eggs, you know your hen is about to retire from egg laying altogether. But with most breeds living to age seven or beyond, you’ve got a few more years to enjoy the companionship of the hen that has served you and your family so well.

CARING FOR OLDER CHICKENS

Caring for older hens isn’t difficult and really isn’t much different than caring for them when they’re younger but there are a few things you can do for them to make sure they are healthy and comfortable.

Lower the perch in the run and/or coop
Senior chickens can start having mobility problems due to arthritis or joint inflammation. By lowering the height of the perch to one or two feet off the ground it’s easier for your old hen to hop onto it, protecting her joints. Building a ramp up into the coop might be necessary.

Predator proof run
Old chickens don’t move as fast as they used to. Providing them with a predator proof space is important to keep them safe. It’s best to supervise your chickens when they are free ranging. You may want to provide your older chickens with a separate coop and run to prevent younger, more aggressive hens from pecking them.

Accessible food and water
Make sure food and water containers are easily accessible. This means the food and water containers must be on an easily accessible height. It can also be a good idea to have two sources of food and water: one in their run area and if they are free ranging one outside. Older chickens may not be able to range as far for food and water.

Feeding older hens
If your entire flock is older and none of the hens are laying any longer, you can give the whole flock a chicken grower feed since they don’t need the additional calcium that a layer feed provides. If you are feeding different age groups together or add new chicks to the flock, the entire flock can be fed the chicken grower feed from the time the new chickens are eight weeks old up until the laying age of 16 to 18 weeks old. After that the new layers will need a laying feed. The layer feed won’t hurt the older hens, as the calcium is good for their bones.

Nail clipping
Older chickens may not be wearing down their nails with activity like foraging and scratching. If the claws are curling round then they will need trimming. Consider nail clipping as part of caring for old chickens if your chickens have long nails.

A good vet
Try to find a vet near you who specialises in poultry. Do this and register in advance of having problems. Arthritis, egg failure, joint inflammation, gout, ascites, tumors, adenocarcinoma and salpingitis are issues that can come up with chickens of any age, but more so in old chickens.

BENEFITS OF OLDER HENS

In their own way, older hens contribute well past their productive egg laying years. Older hens still produce manure, which is a great fertilizer for your garden. Older hens still like to eat bugs. You’ll notice a reduction in the number of ticks and snails in your garden when you keep a flock of chickens. Furthermore, older hens are more likely to go broody and be available to raise the chicks you purchase or hatch.

 


Above: Omlet’s new chicken fencing
Sources: omlet, countrysidenetwork, mypetchicken, poultrykeeper, thehappychickencoop, wideopenpets, the-chicken-chick

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7 Ways to Help Your Chickens Stay Cool This Summer

En flok høns nyder at gå i det grønne sommergræs

Did you know that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through those feathers. Chickens also enjoy lying down in the shade when it’s very hot, and of course they drink lots of water. Did you know that it is actually easier for chickens to keep themselves warm in winter than it is for them to cool down during the summer? It isn’t just an issue of comfort either – chickens can die of heatstroke. Since chickens have a hard time cooling themselves down, when it gets extremely hot they rely on you to help them. So, what can you do to help your chickens keep cool in the summer heat?

Here are our 7 top tips:

1) WaterEn flok høns drikker vand af et Eglu Cube vandtrug

Eggs consist mainly of water, so producing an egg absorbs a lot of water from a hen’s body. Drinking cool water is also one of the main ways in which chickens cool themselves down. Your chickens will therefore need lots of fresh, clean and cool water in the heat of the summer. It’s best to change the water every day to make sure they have this. It is also a good idea to provide several water sources so all your chickens can drink at the same time and don’t have to fight for access and end up dehydrating.

Another way you can use water to help your chickens cool down is by providing some shallow pools where they can dip and cool their feet and legs, remember that this is one of the areas where heat leaves their bodies. Try filling some shallow bowls or tubs and leaving them around in the run or your garden. If your chickens don’t like to stand directly in the water you can try placing a brick in there which will be cooled by the water and which the chickens can then stand on top of.

 

Eglu Cube hønsehuset er hævet over jorden

2) Shade

It is absolutely essential to provide shade for your chickens and even more so when it gets really hot. If you let your chickens free-range in the garden they might be able to find shade under trees and bushes but in any case it is a good idea to provide shade in the run as well. You can easily create shady spots in the run for instance by having a raised coop and/or attaching covers to the run.

 

 

 

3) Treats and FeedingHøns elsker vandmelon

Try giving you hens some cool treats such as frozen berries, vegetables or pieces of fruit. You could even create hanging treats by freezing your chickens’ favourite treats in an ice cube tray with a string in the middle so they can hang in the run. Or try keeping a whole watermelon in the fridge to cool it down before serving as a summery treat.

Be careful not to give your chickens too many treat though, as you want to make sure they eat their layers pellets. Chickens eat less when it’s extremely hot because digestion produces more body heat, so it’s important to make sure they eat the right things and get the vitamins and minerals they need. Try feeding your chickens during the cooler parts of the day such as in the evening. See tip #4 as well.

 

 

En høne har fundet sig det perfekte støvbad - i blomsterbedet

4) Nutritional Supplements

It is a good idea to give your hens some nutritional supplements in the heat such as vitamins and tonics which can be added directly to their food or water. These can improve absorption of minerals, give your chickens a boost to improve their overall health and help them cope better with the heat.

Apple cider vinegar, for instance, can help with calcium absorption in the body which is essential for egg shell production.

 

5) Dust Baths

Chickens love to dust bathe in the warm weather, but you might not want them scraping around in your flower beds. The best thing to do is to build another flower bed (but not for your flowers) and fill it with some sand, soil and some louse powder. If you have a large flock you might even want to provide several spaces so all your chickens have a chance to dust bathe in the shade.
Make sure that you place the dust bath in a sheltered spot or cover it up when your chickens aren’t using it otherwise the rain might turn it into a mud bath.

 

Tre høns leder efter lækkerier i haven6) Space

Your chickens will need plenty of space during the hot summer months so make sure they aren’t overcrowded. It will be even hotter for them if they are crowded too closely together. Chickens need to be able to spread out and spread their wings for ventilation, and everyone in the flock needs to be able to drink cool water and lie in the shade at any time.

 

7) Cool Coop

All Omlet Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin-wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing. This means they do not overheat in the summer. They are also built with a draught-free ventilation system, carefully designed to avoid air blowing directly over the roosting area whilst allowing fresh air to circulate.

If you have a wooden chicken coop, it is important to think about how you can keep the coop nice and cool for your chickens. Make sure you create plenty of ventilation either by opening windows in the coop or by using a fan. Be careful not to have too much thick and heavy bedding as it absorbs heat. Also keep an eye out for mould if you’ve got a wooden coop. Mould can make straw and hay start to rot faster, thereby producing more heat, so make sure you clean out the coop regularly and especially at any signs of mould.

If your chickens are reluctant to go into the hot coop during the day to lay their eggs you could try providing nesting boxes for them outside in cooler, shaded areas.

We wish you and your chickens a lovely summer!

Sources: https://www.fresheggsdaily.com, http://www.henrescue.org, https://www.omlet.dk, https://www.backyardchickens.com

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Top Ten Benefits of Owning A Pet

Studies have shown that having a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relieve stress, increase fitness levels and boost overall happiness and wellbeing.

Read our top ten benefits of owning a pet

  1. They keep you fit
    Dogs need regular, daily walks in order to stay happy and healthy, and so do we. On an average 30 minute dog walk you can burn between 100 and 200 calories!
  2. They lower your stress levels
    Life can be stressful and high levels of anxiety can lead to numerous health problems. Pets can help us to relax. Stroking your cat or simply watching your chickens in the garden can make your worries melt away
  3. They make sure you’re never lonely
    If you live alone, or your partner works different shift patterns to you, it can get very lonely at home – unless you have a pet! They make great companions – they’ll always be waiting for you to come home.
  4. They can lower your cholesterol Levels
    Reports have shown that people who own pets–and men, in particular–have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t have pets.
  5. They can lower your blood pressure
    It has been suggested that owning a pet decreases your blood pressure. The reduction in blood pressure could, in turn, lower risk of stroke and heart disease.
  6. They can help you make friends
    The pet owner community is incredibly friendly – you’ll often find that people will stop to talk to you about your dog during a walk. Having a pet is a great way to meet new people.
  7. They can teach children responsibilities
    Having a pet in the home is a great way for children to learn valuable life lessons in a fun, rewarding way. They get to take on the daily responsibility of feeding, exercising and caring for their animal.
  8. They can boost your mental wellbeing.
    Studies have found that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets and ownership can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Playing with your pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  9. They help you establish a daily routine
    The responsibilities that come with owning a pet can give your day purpose, reward and a sense of achievement. Regular routines are said to help forge discipline, help energy management and support mental space.
  10. And last but not least, they will give you unconditional love
    However bad your day’s been, you’ll have someone who depends on you to shower you with affection. The British Medical Journal believes the emotional bond between owner and pet can be as intense as that in many human relationships.

Sources: PetMd, PawCulture, WomansDay

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New Year Resolutions For You And Your Pet

January is historically the month to set yourself some achievable goals for the year ahead. We’ve put together some ideas for creating New Year Resolutions for you and your pet!

Get Fit
No more quick walks around the block after dinner. 2019 is all about getting fit with your pet. Both you and your pet will reap the rewards both physically and mentally. On an average 30 minute dog walk you can burn between 100 and 200 calories.

Try a new activity with your pet
From hiking to kayaking, hitting the waves to joining a pet exercise class, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their pet into a new pastime. These new activities will help you burn lots of calories! A 30 minute walk on the beach will burn approximately 150 calories and you could expect to burn 220 calories on a 30 minute hike.

Incorporate More Playtime into Your Routine
Dogs love to play games and Cats love the thrill of chasing a toy; let’s just not tell them it’s exercise! Enjoy spending more time playing with your pets this year. A fun 20 minute tug of war would see you burn 50 calories.

Groom Your Pet Every Day
Brushing your pet helps to remove excess fur from their coat which reduces the amount you find on your clothes and furniture. It also helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, to keep their coat healthy and shiny. Grooming an average sized dog burns 200 calories.

Teach an Old Dog a New Trick
Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in older animals. By keeping your senior pet’s brain active, it can actually make it healthier.

Update your Pet’s ID Info
Over the course of a year, a lot can change — people move, get new phone numbers, and forget to update their pet’s tags. Don’t wait — update their tags and microchips now.

Make new Friends
Visit your park and get to know other pet owners! It’s easier that you think!

Maintain a healthy diet
Lead a healthy life with a balanced diet and not too many treats.

Most of all; enjoy spending time with your wonderful pets!

Sources: BravoTv, Petmd, PetSit

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Does my pet need a buddy?

An animal that exhibits a high degree of sociality is called a social animal. This means they need contact with their own kind. Being kept on their own causes these animals to experience boredom, frustration and fear. Unless you have plenty of time to socialise with them, it is recommended these pets have a buddy.

Solitary animals on the other hand spend a majority of their lives without others of their species, with possible exceptions for mating and raising their young. They are often territorial and do not like the company of another animal, especially an animal of their own kind. Some solitary animals will even start fighting when kept together, which can harm or even kill one or both animals.

 

Rabbits
Wild rabbits spend their lives as part of a large group, known as a warren. Rabbits are very sociable animals and need to be kept with at least one other rabbit. It is easiest if rabbits are kept together from birth, but rabbits less than 3 months old will usually live together happily. The best combination is a neutered male and a neutered female. Two litter brothers or two litter sisters will also get on well, but to prevent fighting it is important that they are both neutered.

Guinea pigs
In the wild guinea pigs live in groups of 10 or more, they are social creatures, and like company. As pets they are usually kept in pairs; two females (sows) will live happily together, as will two males (boars), particularly if they are brothers. Two boars of different ages will usually live together, as long as there are no females around. If a female and male live together the male should be castrated.

Dogs
Dogs love nothing more than attention and affection, whether it be from you (their owner) or their fellow dog friends. They can be perfectly happy with just the attention from their owner and family, which means getting another dog is not essential. It is often thought that adopting another dog will instantly solve all problems associated with your first dog’s separation anxiety, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. When adopting a second dog you must consider a number of different variables, including gender, temperament, energy requirements and size.

Cats
It is thought that cats don’t actually crave companionship from one of their own. Often they are perfectly happy being the only cat in the house. Cats are indeed a solitary species but they can and do live in groups. But an extra cat friend (or partner in crime) does provides extra mental and physical stimulation. The major benefit to getting two cats is that they will keep each other company whilst you are away. Getting kittens from the same litter of cats is always the best choice.

Chickens
Free-ranging chickens are social animals. Hens and chicks are the core, while roosters live independently. Because they are social animals they prefer to live in a flock. A chicken without a buddy will get lonely and stressed out. When you have a group of chickens or add new chickens to your existing flock, they will have to establish the pecking order and you might start to wonder if they are social animals after all. Read the guide on our website for more information on how to introduce chickens to an existing flock.

 

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Give your pet bunnies their own warren

Why Settle For A Hutch When You Can Have A Warren?

We all know that pet rabbits need a hutch and a run. But what if they could enjoy the luxuries of a warren in your own back garden, complete with rabbit burrows and tunnels, without having to dig under the lawn and flower beds?

Connecting a rabbit hutch to a run is a simple way to keep bunnies happy. A set up such as Omlet’s Eglu Go is part of the solution, combining the indoors and outdoors that rabbits require. But there are other, more ingenious ways of giving your bunnies the perfect home.

Drain Pipes For Rabbits?

Like all animals, rabbits have inbuilt instincts that need satisfying. Rabbit tunnels and rabbit burrows are as central to their requirements as a bathroom and a comfy bed are to you. In the wild, rabbits live in complex warrens, made up of many private and communal living spaces linked by underground tunnels. This instinct to move around underground is strong in pet bunnies too. And yet, for many, it is an instinct that remains unsatisfied.

This was the inspiration behind the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System, a design that builds and improves on the concept of drain pipes for rabbits. Its durable, flexible, easy-to-clean tunnels are a neat DIY solution that gives rabbits the tunnelling their instincts demand, and with no extra digging required.

A Rabbit Tunnel, And Then Some!

The Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System’s burrow pipes provide easy access from hutch to run, and a cosy bolt hole too. They can link runs to playpens too, enabling your kids to become part of the home warren.

Because rabbits come in all sizes, the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System is built to accommodate the very largest of breeds, and is designed with a flexibility that puts the average drainpipe to shame:

  • It comes in 90cm sections, with no limit on the length and complexity of your set up.
  • All fixings and connectors are supplied.
  • The Zippi doesn’t think in straight lines – it can curve around any garden feature if required.
  • In addition to the standard 90cm tunnel, there are optional Zippi T-Junctions, Corner Pieces, Lock-out doors, and mid-tunnel Look-out sections which double as Hay Racks.
  • Support hoops lift the Zippi from the ground, enabling the grass to grow beneath it.
  • The unique design provides ventilation and drainage, and keeps out any would-be predators.

Bunny Bliss

Rabbits make great pets. They don’t disturb the peace, they don’t hunt birds and rodents, and they don’t require constant walking and training. Coupled with the fact that they are cute and full of character, this has made them a hugely popular choice of pet in recent years.

But it’s not just about keeping you happy, it’s about delivering the bunny bliss your pet deserves. With a hutch and run, you’ve provided a cosy home. But add the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System, and you’ve got a wonderful warren that represents the ultimate des res for rabbits.

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Introducing a new feline friend to your resident cat

Introducing a new cat or kitten to your resident cat can be quite a daunting situation. One thing you don’t want to do is just put them together without any thought or preparation.
If you introduce the cats too soon or without easing them in they can become very hostile due to the fact that they might be feeling threatened or scared.

One thing to note particularly with cats is that once they feel this way about another cat it can be very hard to change their minds hence why a cautious and slow introduction is the best way to ensure both animals feel safe and happy together.

 

Unlike many animals and humans, cats don’t actually crave companionship from one of their own. They are perfectly happy being the only cat in the house. This isn’t to say they won’t enjoy the company of another cat it’s just they don’t have that need or desire for company that you are used to seeing in other animals.

 

Introducing a new kitten to an existing adult cat might be easier as the older cat might not feel as threatened due to the fact that the kitten isn’t sexually mature. However it is worth noting that a kitten will be very lively and playful which for a resident older cat might be quite stressful so it’s important you give your existing cat some down time in a separate room to chill out.

Initially it is best to keep the cats in separate rooms of your house. One in the living room and one in the spare room for example. Place all the items your new cat will need in this room, litter tray, food, water etc. Make sure there is no competition for food, litter trays and sleeping areas. Create safe separate spaces for both of them to co-exist.

Cat diffusers- These can be used a couple of days before you bring your new cat into the home, these are designed to emit pheromones which relax and soothe your cat which makes them feel safe and secure.

If you are introducing a kitten, you can use a dog crate for the initial stages. Top tip: get your kitten used to the crate before you place the kitten in the same room as the resident cat, you can do this by using it in a separate room with the door open for the kitten to become familiar with the crate.

Height is another great asset for cats particularly when they’re feeling scared or threatened. Make sure there is enough high areas or places in your house for the cats to access to give themselves a bit of time to calm down.

Cats have a good sense of smell, therefore unfamiliar scents can be stressful for them, especially when they know it’s from another cat. The idea of scent swapping is an easy but super effective way to safely get the cats familiar with one another. Try swapping their bedding nightly also stroke both cats separately but don’t wash your hands in between, this will cause their scents to become mixed up and they’ll start feeling more familiar with one another even before they’ve met!

Common ground- for initial introductions you want to make sure that the cats are meeting in a neutral area that’s not assigned to either of them but ensure that they have access back to their own safe spaces if they want to leave. In this time, initially just leave them to it, they will assess each other from afar and when they feel comfortable enough to approach each other they will. Try to refrain from picking them up and forcing them to be closer together.
One great way to start the cats bonding is to feed them both at this time, in separate bowls but with a good enough distance between them.

Hissing and moaning isn’t unusual but it just lets you know where they are at, perhaps slow the process down and keep them separate for a few more days and then try again.

Most importantly to create a harmonious environment for your new and existing cat is to make sure there are enough separate areas for them to eat, drink, sleep and go to the toilet, this is a sure fire way to ensure there’s no unnecessary fights!

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12 facts you might not know about your Guinea pig!

1)

Guinea Pigs are not pigs but, rather, rodents. They are also not from Guinea; they originated in the Andes mountains of South America

2)

A male is called a boar; females are sows and babies are referred to as pups.

3)

“Pups” are born with fur and their eyes open.

4)

A healthy weight of a Guinea pig is between 700 and 1200g (1.5 – 2.5lbs)

5)

Guinea pigs are around 20 and 25 cm long (8 – 10 inches)

6)
The life span of a guinea pig is between 4 – 7 years
7)

They have 4 toes on their front feet but only 3 on their back ones

8)

Their teeth continue growing throughout their lives which is why it’s important for them to constantly gnaw on the things they like to eat so they wear their teeth down

9)

Guinea pigs only sleep for about four hours during a 24- hour period and usually nap from between 20 seconds to six minutes.

10)

Guinea pigs are extremely vocal and have a broad range of sounds which include purring, whining, shrieking, cooing, rumbling, hissing and teeth chattering.

11)
They are very social animals and they are much happier when kept in pairs or groups
12)

All breeds of Guinea pigs have five different types of hair that make up their coat.

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How to take better photos of your pet

Patience. The first thing to remember is that pet photography requires patience. It doesn’t matter if you want a posed photo of your rabbit or a action shot of your dog, you’re probably going to get rather frustrated when your models are not behaving in the way you want them to. So arm yourself with patience, and never force your pet into doing something the don’t feel comfortable doing.

Get help. If you have a family member or a friend at hand, it’s always useful to ask them to assist you. They can use toys or treats to get the attention of the pet and direct their gaze while you focus on getting a great photo. If you’re by yourself you’re going to have to find other ways. Sometimes making a sudden noise can get the attention of the pet, but probably only for a second or two, so make sure you’re ready. Depending on the type of photo you’re after it might be easier to have the photo session after you’re played together for a while and the pet is less excited and bouncy.

Use natural light. If you’re not a professional photographer with access to different lenses and flashes, you’re probably going to want to take advantage of the natural light. Try starting outdoors, or if you’re indoors, by a window. The light will make the photo look better, and will give you more freedom to experiment. We would suggest going somewhere where both you and your pet feel comfortable, maybe a place that means a lot to you and where you have created lots of memories together. Try to choose a place with a relatively clear backdrop, like a while wall or a grassy field, as a messy background can be distracting.

Try to focus on the eyes. If the eyes are blurry or out of focus the photo will look slightly off. The camera will automatically focus on what is closest to the lens, which in most cases will be the nose of your pet rather than the eyes. This is especially important when you’re taking close ups.

Get down to their level. This might mean you have to crouch down in the mud or crawl on the floor, but in return your photos will be significantly more unique and interesting. Try taking photos from different angles: from above, below, in front of your pet, behind it. You’ll get to see your pet from all sides, and sometimes the photos from the weirdest of angles are the ones you will love the most.

Have their personalities in mind. The whole point of taking photographs of your pets is to try and capture their personalities, so try to make sure that their characters are showing in the photo. If you cat is the lazy ruler of the house you probably want to capture it yawning in their favourite spot on the sofa, and if you have a dog that bounces around the house and is impossible to tire, you probably want to capture its liveliness in the middle of a jump or running towards you in the park.

Quantity is key. The more photos you take, at different times and locations, the more likely you are to get that one amazing shot. This will also mean that you get loads of photos of your pet in different places, moods and positions. Get used to taking photos when you’re out on walks, playing in the garden, or just relaxing at home, and try to spy on your pet to catch what they’re doing when you’re not around. And remember to always take 20 photos instead of just one.

Use treats. If you’re trying to have a properly arranged photo shoot, try using treats. Depending on what pet you have, and their personalities, offering treats can make them sit still and look at the camera. Others will just walk up to you to get the treat, or ignore the treat completely, but it’s worth trying. Make sure that you reward your model throughout the shoot.

Add humans to the photo. Having family members in the photos with your pet makes the pictures even more special, and they are the ones that you will come back to and look at. A photo of your child playing with your dog or feeding the chickens will capture their characters in a way that a posed photo very rarely do.

Have a go at these tips, and make sure to tag your photos on social media with #OmletPets – we love to see what you’re up to!

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This entry was posted in Pet Advice


Help your cat lose weight!

Did you know that it is becoming more and more common for our pets to become overweight.

Overweight cats are at a greater risk of developing serious problems, like cardiac diseases, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Obesity is normally caused by the cat’s sedentary lifestyle in combination with over-feeding and too many treats.

Helping your overweight cat lose weight is the best thing you can do to improve their general well being and make sure they live a long and happy life!
It is not always straightforward to tell if your cat is overweight, especially if they have long hair and are of a generally stockier breed, but a healthy cat should have a well-proportioned body with a defined waist and neck. You should be able to easily feel your cat’s ribs and hip bone, and it should have minimal abdominal fat. You can also do a search for ideal weight for the breed of cat you’ve got and compare it to the weight of your cat. If your cat is 15% over the normal weight it is seen as overweight.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you need to put your cat on a diet you can always consult with your vet.

It is generally always good to have a chat with your vet before you make any changes to your cat’s diet, as weight gain could actually be caused by an underlying health problem, rather than over-eating.

If you have decided that your cat needs to lose weight, have a look at our best tips:

Control calorie intake

Look for canned, high quality, meat-based, and highly digestible food to give your cat. Canned or raw food contain a large percentage of water, which can help a cat feel full on fewer calories, and also allows you to control how much food you give your cat every day. Canned wet food is also better than dry food, as it does not allow the cat to nibble on food throughout the day and eating just for sake of eating rather than because they are hungry.

Measure out how much food you’re going to give the cat in a day, and make sure you stick to it. Dividing the food into smaller and more frequent meals can help if you feel your cat is struggling with hunger, but keep track of what and how much you are giving them. If you’ve got more than one cat it might be worth trying to feed the overweight cat separately to stop him or her stealing food from the others.

Limit the treats

Get rid of all high-calorie treats and titbits, and make sure everyone in the family knows the rules! It might seem unfair to completely stop giving your cat treats, but the nicest thing you can do for them at this stage is to help them lose weight.

Try substituting treats with a nice cuddle or a toy, as most cat will respond just as well to the attention. If you still feel like you want to treat your cat with something edible, look for low-calorie treats in your local pet shop, or give the cat healthy nibbles, like a piece of broccoli or green beans.

Don’t hurry

Weight loss should be done slowly and steadily to reduce the risk of several health issues, like fatty liver disease. The cat should not lose more than 3-4% of their total body weight per month.

If you are changing the cat’s diet, make sure you do this gradually to not upset the stomach. Substitute more and more of the old food with your new, healthier choice every day, or reduce the amount of food little bit little, until you have reached the desirable level.

Play more

Introducing new toys and games into your cat’s life can not only decrease boredom, help cats bond with each other and their owners, and improve agility and coordination, but will also help your cat lose weight. The increased movement will burn calories, and take the cat’s mind off eating.

Try to find out what types of toys your cat likes, and switch them around every now and then to make sure the cat doesn’t get bored. Different cats like different toys, but feathers and catnip-infused toys will be a hit with most! Make up games that forces the cat to move around and use their whole body, like searching for hidden things or chasing toys.

Try walking your cat on a leash

Although some cats absolutely hate going for a walk on a leash, others will really enjoy it, as they get fresh air and are able to spend time with their favourite human. Let the cat get used to the harness at home, and start with a short walk in the garden or around the block. If that works you can increase the distance gradually.

Don’t worry if it proves a real challenge – some cats will never accept the leash, and you should not force them, but if you’re able to take the cat for a walk once a day it can be a great way of exercising (for both you and your cat).

Add dietary supplements to your cat’s diet

Depending on what food you are giving your cat as part of his or her new diet, they might not be getting enough of the nutrients they need to stay healthy and active. Check the new feeding routine with your vet, and they can recommend supplements that might be good for your cat, such as Omega 3 or multivitamins.

Create an exciting and enriching environment for your cats

You want to make sure that your cats are encouraged to move around in the home even when you’re not there to play with them. Give them scratching trees, climbing posts and stimulating toys, both to prevent boredom and make sure they stay active.

If you’ve got an indoor cat, you might want to consider giving your cats the possibility to play outside in a run.

Help with grooming

This is not so much a tip as a general thing to think about. Overweight cats can sometimes struggle to keep their fur nice and tidy, as they might not have the mobility to reach everywhere. While you’re helping your cat lose weight, make sure to stay on top of grooming!

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This entry was posted in Cats