The Poultry Project Blog - 2017, Year 10
(entries below are in chronological order, bottom up)
December 21, 2017 - Hawk
Last week a hawk attacked one of the adult hens. In all our years with chickens, hawks have only been a problem for the ducks since they sleep out in the open in the pen and because chickens are usually so alert. Our dogs and I heard a loud screech. The dogs beat me outside and the hawk lifted away at their barking. The chickens are too heavy for the hawk to carry away. The hen made a dash for the barn and safety. She had puncture wounds in her neck and now that a week has passed, I see she has an injured wing. We'll keep an eye on her but so far so good.
December 10, 2017 - Molting
We turned off the added lights on December 1st. We simulate 15 hours of daylight to help the youngsters begin laying. Since we are now getting tiny white eggs, the big girls get to take a break. Molting is beginning now in earnest and egg production from the big girls is almost at zero. They will get back to work in february with brand new feather dresses!
September 10, 2017 - Murder
Life on the farm has a down side. You can't easily take chickens to the vet for medical care or euthanasia. We have made the killing process as easy as possible for man and chicken, but it's always hard. One of the new chicks (Mottled Houdan) had developed a deformity in its beak--the bottom jaw had twisted to one side so the 2 beaks no longer met, and the bird was having trouble eating. It was getting progressively worse. See my tips for killing a chicken.
I think this breed wasn't meant to be for me. First we had a rooster, then one got out of our pen and went to live next door (and was then eaten by a coyote), another was so broody I culled her, and now this. Four tries are enough. :-(
July 14, 2017 - Caught on Camera--Egg Breaker
Is a chicken pecking holes in eggs? No, it's a Blue Jay!
I suspected Jays after surprising 3 of them in the coop a week ago. Online there were reports of Blue Jays doing this. They are small enough to get through chain link fencing and the 2x4 inch wire fence I also use. Grrr! We tacked up some chicken wire over openings I saw them escaping from but left the small door to the barn open so the hens (and I) can get in.
There was a broken egg that evening, so I suspected chickens again.
Then we set up my phone in the barn pointing at the nests and began to film the nests. Every 2 hours I would go out to gather eggs and look at the video. No broken eggs for 2 days. I was able to rule out each hen that went in to lay and left like a lady without eating anyone's egg. Then last night after 4p I went out to find a broken egg. The video showed a Blue Jay coming in and pecking the egg!
Later yesterday evening my husband happened to see a Blue Jay fly through the door into the barn. We quietly went out and closed that door trapping the bird in the barn. Two adult humans finally caught the bird after it smashed into the window above the closed door a couple of times. We dispatched him.
Surveillance will continue in case this bird's 2 friends also know how to break eggs. :-)
July 4, 2017
Okay, I have slipped a bit on this website. So far this year, the big change was getting 5 more chicks who are 8 weeks old already. See more about them in the Gallery.
And I'm selling eggs again but only to a few customers and only a couple of times a month. Sales allow me to move surplus eggs out of the fridge!
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