See what our smallholder testing panel thought of an automatic coop door, a quality dog collar, a Subaru CV and more in this month’s focus on products that suit small-scale farmers
– OMLET AUTODOOR
Product: The new Omlet Autodoor is a safe, secure and innovative chicken coop door. Compatible with all wooden coops and any chicken run, the automatic chicken coop door is battery powered and combines a timer and a light sensor, while the obstruction sensor ensures that no chicken can get in harm’s way.
Tester Karen Williams says: When I first saw the Autodoor, I wasn’t sure if the plastic would be tough enough, plus the large instruction manual was a worry. However, once it had been fitted, it worked well and it hasn’t failed once. It is best suited to allowing chickens out early in the morning, but some of mine are slow at finding their way back in the evening and it closes a little early for them. The battery has been surprisingly good and my early concerns about the plastic have proved totally unfounded — it has worn well and cleans up nicely. My favourite thing is its reliability and knowing that despite having a demanding household and morning routine the hens are out promptly. It shouldn’t be used as a replacement for checking your hens daily, though.
Star rating: 4/5
To sum up: A reliable but quite pricey aid to chicken keeping.
– SUBARU XV 1.6i SE PREMIUM LINEARTRONIC
Product: A compact, all-wheel drive SUV with sporty styling that is designed for the town as well as the country. Boasts “superior road-holding, handling and grip”, according to Subaru. The XV comes with EyeSight driver assist technology, which provides warnings and collision avoidance assistance, while X-MODE with Hill Descent Control manages braking and power on steep inclines and descents as the driver steers.
Cost: From £25,325 (on the road price)
Tester Julie Harding says: Subaru’s slogan is ‘confidence in motion’ and that sums up exactly how I felt when driving this car. I gave it a tough test on a variety of terrain and it never let me down. It felt secure when going up hill and down dale in an off road setting (in fact, it takes over on tricky terrain — see left), while on the road a number of safety features I hadn’t encountered before (but maybe Subaru owners have?) enhanced what was actually an extraordinarily pleasurable driving experience. I particularly liked the flash of orange light that alerts you to an overtaking car on the motorway, plus the auto dipping headlights. It may be a roomy vehicle inside, but it drives — and parks — so easily and more like a smaller compact saloon. If I had the funds, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy an XV. Even my (former mechanic and very hard to please) husband loved it!
Star rating: 5/5
To sum up: Stylish, roomy and fantastic to drive, this is an SUV for all occasions and therefore the perfect vehicle for smallholders.
– D&H DIRECT INJECTION GRAB BOX – COMPLETE KIT
Product: Never be caught without the right size needle or syringe again with this handy grab-and-go box. Containing a selection of disposable needles and syringes in many different sizes, it is the perfect kit to have to hand on the smallholding.
Cost: £17.99 (introductory offer £12.99)
Tester Amanda Eaglestone says: This kit is practical and well presented. I used it during lambing for injecting the ewes and lambs. My land is spread over different sites and the vet is 10 miles away, so travelling needles and syringes have always been difficult. The box is great for both smallholders and large farms. It has handy compartments that you can lift out of the box individually to take the needle, drug and syringe with you. The price is good, and there is a great range of sizes of needles and syringes with easy-to-understand labels. I like the fact that the reordering contact details are on the box so you can call from the yard when you are running low on supplies.
Star rating: 5/5
To sum up: A useful, easy-to-store piece of kit that is essential at lambing time.
– PAMPEANO ROCA DOG COLLAR
Product: Hand made in Argentina, Pampeano’s hand-stitched dog collars are made from the finest Argentine top grain cow leather completed with a strong stainless steel buckle and D-ring for secure lead attachments.
Tester Fransje Samsom says: This is a very well made, beautiful product. Someone has lovingly crafted it by hand, traditionally and skilfully. I put it straight on the dog and it is still there weeks later. The dog has happily accepted her new collar and has not shown any discomfort — it feels secure and snug. It is easy to clasp a lead on to and the leather hasn’t stretched. I would certainly recommend it for its durability and style. The only slight negative is that the threaded decorations can catch the dog’s hairs and become a bit grubby, but overall it is good value for money for such a quality hand-crafted product. I love the thought that it is made by hand and it really is a beautiful piece of leatherwork.
Star rating: 5/5
To sum up: A quality product that would make a stunning present for dog and owner.
– FELDYFARE CHICKEN PECKER BALLS
Product: These Pecker Balls are made from concentrated nutrition designed to relieve boredom as well as provide more than eight ingredients from natural human food sources. The ball format makes it easy for chicken keepers to feed using a wire wild bird feeder.
Cost: Pack of 6 Pecker Balls from £3.50
Tester Lucy Farmer says: The balls are a great idea to keep chickens entertained and healthy, plus they are a good price. They worked well and are challenging enough for the hens to want to peck, but not over peck and eat quickly. I hung them in my garden and they grazed on the balls when they felt they needed seed. They are clearly high quality and there is plenty of feed in one ball. After a few weeks of use they remained dry and still edible.
To sum up: A useful, good value product that helps to keep chickens healthy and entertained.
Star rating: 5/5
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