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Just Add Worms Garden Blog - Part 3

Featured Posts

Attracting Techno Colour Tui To Your Garden

Our tui feeders can be viewed here ….. Much to the delight of local tui the Taiwanese Cherry tree in our garden is once again show casing the arrival of spring with a beautiful display of blossoms. During the last few weeks I’ve taken “a little” time out, can’t say how much as I’m supposed […]

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Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

That’s the question I was asked one morning several years ago upon receiving a phone call off one of our adverts in the New Zealand Gardener. The caller introduced himself as Pat and then followed on from his opening question with this statement, “aren’t they a bit expensive!”. It was obvious that he wasn’t one […]

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How To Hang Your Tui Feeder in Four Simple Steps

Each week as I pack up our tui feeders for dispatch I wonder if those receiving them will have any difficulty setting them up in their gardens. Having worked in the furniture trade off and on for many years I can turn my hand to most things however I’m aware that some people can not. […]

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Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Tui ( prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) are endemic “native and unique” to New Zealand. They are found on the three main islands and belong to the honey eater family. Tui are a fully protected in New Zealand. The name Tui is derived from the Maori language with the plural being simply tui. Europeans who first colonised New […]

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A Deluxe Two Way Tui Feeder Makes A Perfect Christmas Gift

Since launching the deluxe two way tui feeder in October of 2011 it has become our most popular model therefore I wanted to post this video showing tui and others birds enjoying one that hangs in our front garden.

With the festive season a little over seven weeks away now is an ideal time to place your orders as November and December become full on. During these months people often ring to ask if they can just “drop by” to collect one without realising that we’re only a small manufacturer with minimal stock. Life would be so much easier if we had hundreds of them on the shelves but this is not case as they are made to order plus there’s never time to make up extras. Last Christmas a number of people were disappointed as their orders arrived too late to be dispatched in time so if you’re wanting one for that special someone don’t leave it till the last minute.

The complete range of tui feeders can be viewed on our new online shop ….

How To Set Up Your Chicken Coop

Often when people buy chickens from us they’ve never owned poultry before therefore I usually find myself explaining the basics of operating a healthy and effective coop. As I grew up on a farm much of it is second nature but many city folk are unsure of just whats involved. The easiest and quickest way to get the message across is to take them on a tour of our back section to see how everything in our coop has be arranged.

The important aspects I talk about are:

Feed …

Because chickens grow so fast I use larger feeders as soon as possible. If you are raising them from day one there are feeders available that have been designed to cover the first couple of weeks. After that one on an adjustable rope works well as its just a matter of raising the height from time to time as the chickens grow. To get the best results it needs to be kept high enough to be accessible but not too low as to allow litter and droppings to be scratched into it. As can be seen in the photo above an off cut of PVC down pipe with holes drilled through it works well as a cheap grit feeder. Commercial feeds normally have grit added however I wonder if its sufficient as our hens regularly go through a 2 kilo bag of crushed oyster shell. 

Feeding guide …

Day old to 6 -8 weeks … chick starter crumbles.
8  – 14 weeks … pullet grower or similar.
14 weeks onward … regular chook feed.
18 – 20 weeks or just prior to the commencement of laying … oyster shell grit.

Don’t over do the kitchen scraps as the nutritional value from these is fairly low. If they are fed as a substitute for a properly balance diet egg production will suffer.


Its important to have a plentiful supply of good clean water at all times. Hens don’t drink much at anyone time but they do drink often and even more so during spring and summer when air temperatures increase. I always leave the coop door open when our hens free range as they can get cool water whenever they need it. Hens drinking dirty contaminated water from containers and puddles is a recipe for disease.

If its not clean enough for you to drink you shouldn’t give it to your hens.

As shown above I prefer to used a fixed water container as the hanging versions leak and spill water when knocked. Its easily removed for cleaning and is installed in such a way to prevent debris getting into it.

Perches …

Chickens have a natural instinct to perch therefore it important to provide good sturdy perches. The ones in our coup are about 5cm square and have the sharp edges taken off to make them more chicken friendly. Tree branches of a similar diameter also work well if they are reasonably straight. The perches shown above are approximately 50cm and 80cm above the floor however I set them at lower levels when I first introduce 3 to 4 week old chicks. They should be fixed securely to the coop walls whilst being easily removable for cleaning.

Even when I have day old chicks under lights I provide perches as its a habit that I want them to learn as soon as possible because it makes my job so much easier. There’s no space on my daily to do list for cleaning dirty nesting boxes and eggs. Perch space per bird should be about 20cm.

Without suitable perches hens will perch on what ever is handy namely nesting boxes, feeders and the like or they will crowd into a corner of a coop. The end result will be a hard mound of droppings which will ultimately end up in feathers on claws then into nesting boxes and subsequently onto eggs. Correctly positioned perches eliminates crowding, flighty hens, dirty eggs and ensures your hens will be more relaxed and manageable.

Like all females of the species they need to be pampered. My other half constantly reminds me that I pay more attention to our Flora’s that I do to her. Its not true of course !!

Nesting boxes …

For me keeping hens is all about egg production therefore when we built the coop I invested extra time and effort into creating workable nesting boxes.

    • One nesting box for every 4 hens, wonder why sometimes as they all seem to lay in the same box.
    • Easily accessible for me from the outside.
    • Easily accessible for the hens from the inside.
    • Removable for easy cleaning.
    • Spacious … 40cm height x 40cm width x 40cm depth or thereabouts.
    • Weather proof.
    • 10cm lip at the front to keep shavings and eggs in.

When introducing young chickens I keep the boxes closed off until near the time when they will start laying. This is to ensure that they use the perches rather than sleeping in and fouling the boxes. As mentioned previously this means only one thing, dirty eggs.

Deep litter …

We use a deep litter system as it makes for easy maintenance and reduces the need to be continually cleaning chicken manure out of the coop. Simply put the floor is covered with a 10cm layer of untreated wood shavings which is raked over every few days.  A more detailed explanation of this concept can be found here.

Access – easy and straight forward …

  • Human sized entry, applicable if you need a large coop.
  • Removing old litter is almost effortless, especially when I have to work the camera !
  • Predator proof entry- exit.

A user friendly coop ensures that keeping hens doesn’t become just another unwanted chore so build or buy wisely.

Fun For All At Brookby School Agricultural Day

Last Saturday morning I spent several hours at the local Brookby School helping out with the judging of chickens for the annual ag day. Not sure why they sought me out to do this as I’m no expert however I was assured that it was going to be a relaxed event and that I shouldn’t worry. Arrive a little before 10 they said so with 25 minutes up my sleeve I set off. As the school is only a few kilometres away I had plenty of time to get there and still have ten minutes for a quick briefing.

The weather was looking good and I was feeling chipper as I turned on to the main road. Unfortunately things were about to change.

Just half a kilometre from home and fifty minutes later I was muttering under my breath that there was absolutely no good reason at all why Kiwi drivers should be involved in an accident on such a fine morning as this. After all where did they get their licenses from, a Weetbix pack?

On arriving home later in the day I was informed by my “‘trouble and strife” that the Ardmore air show was also taking place which explained the nose to tail traffic. Once again I had jumped to a hasty conclusion, I do that sometimes.

By the time I reached the school I was 25 minutes late and judging had already begun with one of the parents standing in for me. After some quick pointers from Tim, another parent, I put on my judges hat and got into the swing of things.

My job was to judge the chickens on care and condition and how well they were able to perch on arms, heads or wherever else they felt so inclined. By the look on the faces it was obvious some of the pupils were rather reluctant participants whilst others were relishing the opportunity to show off their birds.

In spite of a few minor mishaps with perching chickens everyone including yours truly enjoyed the day. Who knows they might invite me back next year ?

The Bunny And The Brassicas

A few mornings ago after finishing my cornflakes, coffee and toast I set off as usual to check the state of the veggie garden, hen house and bees. It’s a well practiced daily routine and helps me make peace with the world before commencing on the days orders. As I approached the garden however I was greeted by a sight that shattered any likelihood of a relaxing start to my day.

What I saw made me just plain hopping mad and to be brutally honest all I wanted to do was to grab a gun and start shooting. For those of you reading this don’t worry as I have no intentions of running amok but my temperature was certainly up there!

The Awapuni Nurseries seedlings that I proudly planted out about 10 days ago had completely vanished.

I suspected that they had been eaten by a half grown rabbit that I seen run under the garden gate a few days earlier, I was red hot fuming. These seedlings were to be the first beginnings of my much anticipated spring garden plus they were just starting to come away. Now due to this pesky varmit or varmits, if there’s one you can bet there will be others I was back to square one.

I’ve had this happen before but not to the extent where only a small part of the plant’s stem is showing above the surface. If bugs had nibbled a leaf or two of the seedlings they probably would have recovered but this was a total demolition job. The little that did remain I covered with some chicken netting but as the saying goes, no point in covering the cabbages after the rabbit has scarpered.

I had previously advised our friends at Awapuni Nurseries that I would keep them informed as to the progress of their seedling but now this was going to be somewhat of a challenge. Not long after dispatching a hasty email I received a reply from them with a very generous offer to courier some replacements plants within the next few days.

In the meantime I needed to take a hard line with the renegade rabbit who had treated my veggie patch as a self help salad bar. My thoughts turned to an old air rifle that Doug a friend of mine had lent me some months ago. I had taken the occasional pot shot at a few rabbits but with zero success so I had put it to one side. Now due to the chaos occurring in my garden I decided to dust it off and try again.

Unbeknown to me the sights were incorrectly set and this was the reason for my past failures. I learnt this from Roger our part time worker after he made a few adjustments and let off a few test shots. He has a firearms license and knows more about guns than I do. Once again I was feeling confident that our rabbit issue could be resolved.

Now where did that pesky rabbit go ?

Unlike elephants rabbits have a poor memory therefore I knew it wouldn’t be too long before bugs would come out of hiding. Now the odds had changed and I was ready for any rabbit who dared trespass on my patch.

Job done, now to replant those seedlings.


Chickens – Good Bye Jessie’s

Due to the large number of tui feeder orders of late I’ve been rather remiss with my blog posts however our hens leaving home couldn’t pass without some albeit brief comment. I owe them that at least for all the delicious eggs they’ve provided us over the last year or so.

It was with a tinge of  sadness that I bid adieu to our Shaver Brown hens this week however the time had come for them to be moved on. For me poultry is all about maximum egg production therefore our eight loyal layers have been replaced by a new younger flock of  Hyline Brown’s. We’ve decided to call them all by one name as is the norm around here, Flora sounded like a good choice. If I was still on the family farm our Jessie’s probably would have come to an abrupt end but I had been threatened with dire consequences if any ill was to befall them. Obviously I needed to find our feathered friends another suitable home and fortunately for me and them I knew just the place.

In January of this year I sold some chicks to a very nice lady called Rosalie who owns 40 acres on the other side of Auckland. At the time she mentioned that she would be interested in buying our hens so last week the call was made. There they will have plenty of space and be able to grow old gracefully without the threat of going in the pot or worse. I’m more than happy with this outcome as it keeps Jessie’ s heads off the block and means that I don’t get off side with those anxious members of my family.

They looked rather unsettled in the back of the car however I was assured that they would be well cared for. You’d almost think it was family members that I was parting with.

At the time of writing this it’s business as usual as the 17 Flora’s are well settled into the coop and giving us on average 15 eggs a day.

If reading this has made you think that its time you got your own hens then you’re in luck as we have chicks for sale.

Deluxe Two Way Tui Feeder Proves To Be A Real Winner

Nine months have passed since we sold our first deluxe two way tui feeder and as expected it has now become our most popular model. Feedback from our clients has been 100% positive and as the photo below suggests the tui like it as well.

This feeder is located in the garden of Pat and Di on Auckland’s North Shore. I’m so envious of them as I’d love to have this number of tui visiting our feeders.

Like our other models the two way is available as hanging or pole mounted versions. The main difference with this new model is that bottle holder is positioned in the centre of the feeder which allows tui and other birds to access from both front and back.

With twice the usual number of sight holes its real easy to see the level of the mix.

You can check out the complete range of tui feeders by visiting our garden shop.

Just Add Worms Launches New Garden Shop

We are very pleased to announce that we have a new online garden shop as the previous one has become out dated and difficult to browse due to too much duplicate information. When we listed our first tui feeder for sale in June of 2009 it was all very easy as there was only one version but now we have ten not to mention the other products we sell. Our intention with this revamp is to make your shopping experience with us easier, quicker and more enjoyable. We still have a few small issues that need to be sorted however we expect to have them completed within the next few days.

Special thanks to our son Nathan of 3Bit Solutions Ltd for his IT wizardry in getting this all to work. Thanks also to Fraser our other son for his help with the graphics. Life is less complicated when you are surrounded by IT experts. As always we are more than happy to receive feed back so if you can see where further improvements could be made please let us know.

A Dozen Reasons Why Hens Can Add To Your Happiness

Its been 16 months since we decided to get some hens and now we can’t imagine not having them around.

Some months back we also started selling day old, two week and 3 week old chickens and now never a week goes by without me extolling the merits of having your own hens. Often on a Saturday morning that simple five minute pickup of much anticipated new chickens develops into a 20 minute tour of our back garden and chicken coop. If its Mum, Dad and the littluns it can take a little longer. I don’t mind as the delight and excitement upon those young faces when seeing their cute new friends for the first time. It just adds further magic to the occasion.

Day old Hyline Brown chicks.

Simply put some great reasons for having hens are ….

  1. They’re easy to look after and enjoyable to watch.
  2. Children love them and will have fun collecting the eggs as well as helping with feeding and watering.
  3. They make great pets, but don’t get too attached. No need to groom or walk these gals as they can mostly care for themselves.
  4. Pest control, slugs, snails, crickets and all manner of grubs and bugs won’t stand a chance.
  5. Free nitrogen rich fertiliser for your veggie garden.
  6. Not only will they help to keep the lawn mown but they will also fertilize it for you.
  7. Leighton Smith of NewstalkZB fame suggests that taking time out after a hard days work to observe them is a great way to lessen stress, yours that is. Roosters excluded of course.
  8. Allows you to regain some control over where and how your food is produced.
  9. All those unwanted kitchen leftovers can now be put to good use rather than burdening our land fills.
  10. Every little helps to reduce the need for caged battery hens and sends a message to those exploiting them this way that its no longer acceptable.
  11. Hens are environmentally friendly.
  12. Last but not least, lots of tasty nutritious eggs.

Hyline chicks at 2 weeks.

At 3 weeks.

If you’re wanting to purchase some chickens more details can be viewed here.

Images of Anzac Day

Over recent years I’ve written about Anzac Day but rather than covering the same ground this year I’ve opted to publish a few images of last Wednesday’s 73rd Anzac Day Dawn Service. As usual it was held at Auckland’s War Memorial Museum Cenotaph. Anzac Day mornings are usually cold and wet but our 4 am start was greeted with clear skies and spring like temperatures.

In all my years of attending I’ve never seen such a large crowd but sadly the number of “old soldiers” is diminishing. Crowd numbers were reported to be 10000 plus.

I suspect the photographer above took this shot of the photo we placed on the cenotaph.

“Lest we forget” ….


Fowl Tempers

Several weeks ago our second batch of hens began to lay so it was time to re house them in the main coop with our Jessie’s who are now 15 months old. I suspected there could be some dramatics however I had my fingers crossed for a smooth and peaceful transition. As any keeper of poultry will tell you the gals have a pecking order and there’s always one, two or more that just have to harass the others believing they have the right to be boss and  “rule the roost”.

Somewhat like the human flock really when you think about it.

To minimise any disruption I decided that I would try merging the two factions early one evening just as it was getting dark with the hope that the following morning they would all be the best of friends. “Yeah right” as the saying goes …

As the sun went down all seemed to be well in the coop so my optimism remained intact but what would the new day bring?

Early the following morning as is routine I wandered down the back to check the birds and the bees only to find a hellish hen fight had erupted in the coop. Beaks claws and feathers galore with hens up down and every place. If the new hens had beaks like wood peckers they would have eaten holes in the walls to be out of there.

The coop and nesting boxes were as messy as a teenagers bedroom so I knew that if our egg production was to continue I needed to separate them double quick smart.

I really didn’t need all these hysterics and tantrums.

It took me about an hour to make up a simple divider with a door that would keep the warring parties apart plus an addition waterer and feeder were set up.

Having a barrier that allowed them to see each other would hopefully and ultimately bring about a successful integration. The first photo below shows some of our older hens called Jessie.

Our new and yet unnamed hens have not been warmly welcomed but at the time of writing this have been more or less accepted into their new digs.

After approximately two weeks the divider came down so hopefully we will have harmony once again in the hen house and plenty more eggs!