it's a rare, quiet moment in this lock's day.
I've been inspired by different people over the years, in many different ways, by different things. Um, but most recently I've been inspired by a whole bunch of, uh, small holders or home status who have taught me so much via the magic of the interwebs, um, about looking after animals, looking after the land, all sorts of things. Um, and when we started, uh, almost small holding about 15 months ago, we knew almost nothing. I was quite a good gardener, but keeping a small, holding a homestead is a completely different thing again. So I spent a lot of time watching reading blogs, watching vlogs, looking at websites to learn as much as they could. And, and I really did learn some very, very useful stuff. Um, and I followed, I followed the advice that I saw online and on YouTube flogs over time. Um, little bit by bit I've discovered that an awful lot of the practices that I was doing, I was being guided by, um, American homesteaders and the laws in the UK are a bit different.
Um, and so I discovered that for us on our, on our small holding, I've actually been doing an awful lot things quite wrong, but Nope, no worries. I've um, I, no, no. And I've changed my practices, but I thought it might be useful to, um, to share some of those differences because they're not, it's not that one is better than the other. They are just different and it's just a different way of doing the same thing, all important cup of tea. So, yeah, so I thought I'd just, just look at some differences now that I'm not an expert. I don't have a legal background. This is literally the law here. As I understand it, by reading, I'm trying to interpret the guidance given by government film, various different things that we can't, and we can't do it obviously in America, it will be different. I haven't looked at the laws there.
I am just going almost I've seen online. What people can do in the States is different to what we can do here. I'm vice versa. So if you're in the States and you're watching this, don't take my guidelines as the ones that you need to follow. You'll need to do your own research and find out what you can do in the States. We have to register premises. Well, not quite, but nearly once you have more than 50 birds in the UK, you have to register your premises and get a number to prove that you're registered. And when we first started a small holding and we got our first three chickens, I couldn't believe anyone would possibly want that many birds. However, with chicken maths being the way it is on one becomes five becomes 20, becomes 30. It becomes very easy to suddenly find your, uh, hatching eggs. Im use best egg incubator. You're raising checks, you've got meat, birds, you got a duckling, that's a duck. Uh, that's gone broody and has hatched and eggs. And all of a sudden you've got 49 or 55 or 70 birds. Um, and that number may go up and down during the year. If at any point during the year, you've got 50 birds in the UK, you have to register how we feed our birds can be different as well. And the UK, we answer not to give our birds any kitchen scraps, so nothing that's come fire the kitchen. So not just scraps from a meal, but if you've brought food into your kitchen to prepare it, you can't then take it out and give it to you bird. And so the way it works in our home is that we have a small caddy, a small plastic box with a biodegradable bag in it.
And that has all our cooked scraps and all our meat scraps go into it. And the local authority come around and collect those once a week, um, and take them away. So that's our cooked food, then all our vegetable peelings and that's thing go onto compost heap in the garden. But because we can't give the chickens kitchen scraps like peelings, our chickens, can't go through those compost heaps either. So I have actually have a system of two different types of compost heap, one that has all our vegetable peelings and scraps in it. This one, how's the kitchen scraps on it. And one that has, uh, vegetable bits from the garden. So when I pull up, for example, leaks to cook those I'll chop the top off the leak. I'll take the roots off the leak and the answer leaves and I'll, they never even come into the kitchen.
They stay outside and they go straight on to the compost heaps that the chickens are allowed. Um, and we, we actually built a big circle of straw bales in the chicken field and put everything into the center of there. And we call that circle of love, absolutely love being in this, um, it sheltered from the wind cause they could hunker down underneath the straw bales, um, and then scratch away to their heart's content. Um, they certainly love it though, that's for sure. Um, and they turn that over and um, break it down and I'll leave a link to the animal plant health agency information about feeding a kitchen scraps to our birds, uh, in, in the information below, just click on the bit that says click here or click should show more and, and I'll put all the links for the information down there. So that's feeding the birds, um, and obviously not allowing them to have access to compost heaps with kitchen scraps on it.
The other thing that's, uh, the other thing that I know is very different in UK to the U S is that we don't wash our eggs. Once they've been laid, there is a protective coating around the outside of an egg shell, which, uh, if you wash the eggs, it washes that off and then they need to be kept refrigerated. So in UK and in the rest of Europe, because the UK is still part of Europe, been decided that the best thing to do is to not wash eggs and to, uh, keep them stored at room temperature. So when you go into a shop or a, you'll find boxes of eggs and they usually, but not always, usually, uh, compress cardboard boxes and they're not refrigerated. So it's not that our eggs are going to be dangerous or anything. If you come here and you want to use our eggs, it's just a D it's just a different way of storing them.
That's all. Um, what I do know is that if you refrigerate an egg, it has to be kept refrigerated. You can't then net it back, come back to room temperature because the bacteria will pass through the egg shell, into the egg, making it unsafe when it comes to dispatching, um, birds. Again, the UK is, is different to the U S uh, small holders, backyard keepers, and small farms can slaughter on site, um, a maximum of 70 birds a day, but we can't just pop them into killing cane and cut their throats. We have to just create their next first. And so we have the bird has to be unconscious before it's bled out. So we've had to learn how to either hold a chicken bites by bites legs at one end and hold its neck at the other end, just gently pull, uh, until you feel the click of his neck dislocating, all, you have to use a broom handle method where you lie the bird on the ground, and you put a broom handle across the top of it with your feet, either side, um, hold the legs and pull upwards and back.
And that will dislocate their neck as well. At that point, pop them into the killing cane, cut the neck, each side, uh, so that it bleeds out very quickly. And then, and then that's the legal way of doing it. So having watched various different people on American vlogs and videos, helping educational videos, showing this how to do that and having actually made my own killing code, um, after that, I then discovered that I wasn't going to be allowed to use it and that I would need to learn how to dislocate, uh, just a K a neck, um, to render a bird unconscious before I use a kid cane. Um, so it's been a steep learning curve and I'm sure as time goes on, there'll be, there'll be more things to learn and I'll discover other things I'm doing not quite right. And obviously as soon as I, as soon as I've learned that I'm not doing them correctly, I'm then adjusting my practices.
Um, because aren't sheets there, isn't a manual called everything you need to know in every circumstance ever. It just doesn't exist. And it can't. And obviously because the law changes as time goes on, anybody who wrote that manual, now it would be out of date again. And as soon as the law was changing slightly, now, the other thing that's having an enormous impact on poultry keepers in the UK at the moment, um, is the threat of avian flu. And since the beginning of December, since December the sixth, we by law have had to keep our birds inside. So they either need to be completely housed, or if they are allowed out of our house, they have to be completely protected from any contact with wild birds. So being the amazing, uh, pulse keepers that we are, uh, we found all sorts of ingenious, ways of keeping our birds safe, unprotected.
So people have put them into, uh, greenhouses into polytunnels, um, they've converted bombs and stables. They built all sorts of amazing structures in their gardens to keep their birds protected. So for example, we bought this large pen, which came in a kit form. This fabulous outbuilding was going to be my garden room and potting shed. And I had visions of a wonderful wood burning stove in there and a day bed at one end and a potting shed type arrangement at the other end. However, the bird flu situation, when everything changed and how I strapped a load of pallets together along the front here, uh, built a doorframe, more pallets there's chicken wire above it. Um, and it gives them a secure, safe place to be. So what we're hoping is that this restriction will be lifted on the 28th of February. That's the data at the moments that we've been given, that we will be able to up our birds act, but it could be reviewed at that point.
All the birds would have been in for 12 weeks and, and a European law, an egg that's sold is free range ag. The birds of, of free range. Birds can only be kept inside for maximum 12 weeks in any 12 month period. And over here, the majority of the eggs, as I understand the majority of eggs are no free range eggs. And so the egg industry be devastated. Uh, it will be, um, there would just be enormous economic repercussions if we can't let our birds out after the 28th of February. But on the other hand, it's much better to have your birds in and minimize the risk of them getting even flu. It does suck, you know, that's a better thing to do than just being able to call your eggs free range. So it's, it's tossing up, which is the, which is the most, um, pressing and urgent need.
Um, and we just have to wait to hear from DEFRA who are the government department that deal with farming and rural affairs, um, to find out what was happening with that. So, uh, so that was it. That was so what I've discovered so far, the differences between, uh, UK and USA, I have discovered, um, which I probably knew anyway, was that pulsar keepers are fabulous people. Um, and actually all we want to do is do the best for our birds. Um, whether we keeping them as pets, um, whether we keep them for their eggs to sell, uh, whether we keep them as meat, birds, whichever reason we keep our birds, what we want to do is we want to do the best for them, um, and keep them safe and treat them humanely.
by Miriam Rolling – poultry farmer