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The Poultry Project Blog - 2012, Year 5

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(entries below are in chronological order, bottom up)

October 14, 2012 - Molting

Production is down and the yard is filling with feathers. It's that time of year and to be expected.

We usually take our 4-year-old hens to the local feed store for the 'culling' process. They sell them as stewing hens. Problem has been they are getting lots of other molting old hens right now and have no room for mine.

My husband and I became chicken murderers today as we dispatched 4 of the oldest hens. Our method is very quick and painless for the bird--better than having them sit in a cage for days awaiting the same fate, and no doubt more humane. We are down to 29 adult hens now with 3 more to go when they stop laying and begin the molting process.

It is my goal to reduce the flock this year. I had 30 last year and will start the new season with 26. Feed costs have hit the roof with the corn shortage. Nobody stays unless she's either working or will work very hard next year!

I've also noticed that the 4-year-old hens often have problem eggs. Usually fragile shells which just seem to beg to be broken and eaten by others. I'm going to work towards 3-year-olds being the oldest workers from here on and a flock size closer to 20 than 30. More fun for me, lots less chicken shit!

September 14, 2012 - Egg Eating Again!

Okay, this has been a dog summer. Two puppies have kept me hopping. Back to chickens.

We've had egg eaters again. It started in August and continued till I went back to the blown-out eggs filled with hot sauce and liquid detergent. They don't like that. Took about a week to get them to stop. I have an unproven theory about why this is happenening again--same time of year as last year. They have depleted the calcium supplies in their bodies by now and crave it. I feed free choice oyster shell, but hey, if you were a chicken, wouldn't you prefer a soft shell and a delicious filling over a tough old oyster shell? Anyway since this is the only time of year this problem comes up, that's what I think is causing it. No way really to avoid it. Time will tell. For more on this bad habit, visit my Advice page.

To give the chickens something else to eat, I occasionally have cauliflower I forget about in the fridge. The chickens don't mind if it has funny spots on it! See pictures of them enjoying it in the Gallery on this date.

July 24, 2012 - Roosters

The two EE roosters went back to the feed store today. They will probably be dinner as they are 3 months old and much bigger than their female counterparts. Do people eat EEs? I don't know and don't really care. I would probably eat them if it wasn't such a production to prepare them. Yes, I'm a lazy poultry keeper!

July 21, 2012 - Catching up

The Poultry Project has been 'off the air' for a bit while we mourned the loss of our beloved Basset Hound, Chandler, and welcomed a new addition--Ken the Miniature Schnauzer. I'm ready now to get back to my chickens!

The chicks are 12 weeks old already--see them in the Gallery on this date. They moved outside at 6 weeks and share their space with the occasional broody. 2 of the 6 EEs are boys who will be going back to the feed store this week. That leaves 4 EEs and 2 Black Australorps to bring new life to the flock. I got these babies earlier this year in the hope they will begin laying earlier--when the old gals molt. I'll report when egg-laying begins.

My lovely pure white EE has been broody twice this year and I'm considering culling her in the fall if she does it again. She is the first EE to go broody. I need to cull 6 to make space for the new girls. Once molting begins in fall, I'll cull the oldest girls who will be 5 years old next year. I've noticed egg shells become misshapen or thin from these old gals, so keeping the flock younger seems best. The one exception is my old Barred Rock #22. I kept her last year and she will live out her life here. She is my buddy and still lays several perfect eggs a week.

April 26, 2012 - Chicks!

Okay, life has been keeping me a little too busy. Now even more with 8 new babies to watch grow up. I'm starting chicks a little earlier this year so maybe they will begin laying before winter officially begins. Last year I started in June--didn't get eggs from those babies for 7 months.

See the Gallery on this date for pictures of the first 2 days of the new babies. I have 6 Easter Eggers and 2 Black Australorps. I had planned to get one Australorp and one Silver Laced Wyandotte, but the feed store didn't get any Wyandottes this week so the decision was made for me.

February 6, 2012 - Eggs!

What happened to January? Guess I've been busy gathering eggs as the gals have gotten back to work and I am making my egg customers very happy again. Thanks girls!

All the youngest hens started laying in December and their older buddies have gradually resumed laying since then. From 30 hens I gathered 21 eggs yesterday--the biggest day so far this year.

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