Monday, November 10, 2014

The chicken swap.

I wrote recently that our chickens are providing very few eggs.  We get one a day on average.  I was telling this to one of my neighbors and she asked me if I wanted to swap out some chickens.  She'd give me some younger ones for some of my older ones.  That sounded like a good deal to me.  The only issue was determining which birds to part with.  I ran the idea by my kids.  They wanted to keep four and swap out three.

Below are pictures of the three new birds.  My kids have named them, but I don't remember what their names are.  

These birds are quite big.  We're hoping that they're big enough that the hawks will leave them alone.  None of them are laying yet.  I'm guessing that they will be by spring.

It took them a few days to adjust to their new surroundings, but they seem to be doing fine now.  The other birds sure do give them grief.  I find the pecking order thing rather amusing. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We lost another chicken...

A few days ago my children asked me what I thought we should name the last remaining chick.  We started with five, but only one survived.  So I replied with, "Lucky."  They got a chuckle out of that, but determined that that name was no good.  They wanted to call her Domino because she was black and white. 

Last night I went out to close up the coop.  I did a quick head count and realized that Domino wasn't there.  I looked around the yard and outside the fence, but there was no sign of her.  I went inside and told the family.  My son grabbed a flashlight and went out to look.  It didn't take him long to find a carcass.  I'm not sure how I missed it.

There were feathers everywhere.  I'm assuming that another hawk got it, and boy did it eat well.  There wasn't much left of that bird.

I guess its luck ran out.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

An update on the layer chickens - Fall 2014

I don't write about my chickens frequently.  That's probably because there isn't a lot to tell.  They're easy to take care of.  I lock them up at night and let them out in the morning.  Every 3-4 days I add food to their feeder.  That's pretty much it.
It's infrequent that anything changes.  We added a few birds to the flock in August, but most of them didn't make it.  The good news is that the one remaining chick is doing well.  She's as big as the mother hen now.
The bird in the middle is the last remaining chick.
The other thing that has happened recently is that their egg production has fallen drastically.   There was a time when we had 6 birds that we would get 4-6 eggs per day.  Now we have 8 birds and we're lucky to get 1-2 eggs per day.  Sometimes we get 0. 

Part of that is due to the time of year.  They lay fewer eggs when there is less daylight.  I think the big issue is age.  From what I've read, the prime egg laying age is 6-18 months.  Most of my birds are more than 2 years old.  The new chick isn't old enough to start laying yet, and I don't know the age of the mother hen.  She still sticks close to the chick.  I don't know if she's still playing mother or if they've just formed their own little group.  Regardless, she's not laying.

I'm ready to start culling the older birds.  I'm willing to put them in the freezer, but my children won't let me.  They want to keep them around as pets (which they pretty much are).

My barred Plymouth rock is molting again.  She did this last year.  Looking at the pictures from then I'm guessing she's going to look a lot worse before she looks better.
She looked good on 9-14-2014.
My Rhode Island Red molted in June.  She looks pretty good now.  She's the only one that still lays eggs reliably.  Most of the eggs we get come from her.