The Poultry Project Blog - 2013, Year 6
(entries below are in chronological order, bottom up)
September 4, 2013 - Downsizing Complete
Over the past few months, I'm been downsizing my flock. I have now stopped selling eggs because 5 years was enough and I'm tired of it. We woke up this morning with a mere 8 hens (down from 30) in the huge pen.
The youngest of my hens went to people I know who wanted adult layers. I culled the older hens (3 and 4-year-old) to the feed store. They re-sell them at $20 each. So even those gals would go to places where they will continue their jobs.
So now I have the 7 youngsters from earlier this year and one left over one-year-old. We will see how many eggs 8 young gals can provide for Mark and me. I'll still get new chicks every year and will cull the older birds as soon as the kids begin laying. We will always have very young hens and I'll cull before they molt for the first time. Continuous high quality eggs, less parasite and other problems and hopefully no more EGG EATING! I'm convinced the problem with egg eating is the old gals.
Speaking of laying, all 7 of the chicks are now graduated to 'hen' status as they are laying their little eggs in the nests. No floor eggs with this bunch probably due to the example set by their big sisters and seeing 'nest eggs' in every nest.
Now, to better accommodate such a small flock, we are remodeling the roosting area from the current incline to horizontal perches similar to the way be started. Easier to clean. I'll post photos in the Coop tab when we are finished. No changes planned to nests--we have 10 nests for 8 birds--they have the luxury of choosing where to put their eggs.
August 18, 2013 - Egg Eating AGAIN!
This is the time of year I expect egg eating--late in the year, calcium depleted even though I supplement with oyster shell. This seals the decision to get rid of old chickens and keep only youngsters. Rock hard eggs are impossible to break even for me! I'm back to filling blown out eggs with detergent as I struggle to meet egg sale demand. :-(
August 14, 2013 - First Baby Egg
One of the 7 newbies has laid her first egg. The Easter Egger has outdone her Silver Laced Wyandotte and Light Brahma sisters by delivering a lovely little blue-green egg. See her accomplishment in the Gallery on this date.
These pullets are 22 weeks old--hatched March 14. My feed store gets their first chicks in mid to late February. Next year I plan to get babies earlier so they will lay earlier. The old gals have slowed way down by now and having baby eggs a month earlier would have been better.
August 1, 2013 - Life in the Coop
Today I found the lifeless body of my sweet #22. She was my favorite and only chicken kept from the first year. She was a lovely barred rock who still laid an egg every 3-4 days. So friendly and sweet, always following me around. I don't get sentimental about chickens much anymore, but this one hurts. :-( See pics of #22 in the Gallery on this date.
Combs and wattles on the 7 youngsters are coloring up and they are bravely co-mingling with the older girls. They are 20 weeks old so it should only be a few weeks before I find tiny eggs in the nests.
July 4, 2013 - Moving Day
The chicks are 16 weeks old and ready to join the big girls. This is always a process because the babies are afraid of the hens even though the hens don't seem to notice them and they have lived side by side separated by a wire fence for 10 weeks.
I begin by opening the gate. Usually the big girls come in to the baby pen. At night the babies stay on their roosts and the big girls go to theirs. By the 3rd day, all the babies have ventured out to the large outdoor pen by day and I close the gate. Everyone sleeps together. This is always traumatic for the youngsters, but by the end of a week, all is well.
April 30, 2013 - Predator
Just minutes after taking pictures of the chicks today, something got into their pen and made off with one of the baby Light Brahmas. :-( I suspect a red tailed hawk since we have them nesting nearby. The one Light Brahma I suspect might be a boy is still with us. :-( - again.
April 26, 2013 - More Culling and the Chicks Move Outdoors
Egg eating--AGAIN! In the past this has happened in fall when I suspect the hens have depeted their calcium supplies and get a hankering for eggshell. We've never had it this early. One day there were 3 eggs with holes punched in them and contents eaten. I found egg yolk on the beaks of 2 of the 4-year-old gals so I took them to the feed store. No mercy. Next day another punched egg so I still don't have the culprit. I'm back to filling blown out eggs with dish detergent. They really don't like to eat any part of eggs with detergent in them! We are down to 22 layers.
I am beginning to think keeping older chickens is not a good idea. This egg eating problem did not start until my hens got older. I was planning to downsize the flock anyway, but at the end of this season, I plan to cull so next season my oldest chickens will be 3 rather than 4 years of age. We'll see how that goes. Another problem with older hens is the shells are very fragile.
Meanwhile the babies are 6 weeks old already and ready for bigger quarters. I moved them to the 'baby' pen. Now I'm not so sure I have a rooster Light Brahma. More time will tell. See pictures of them in the Gallery on this date.
April 20, 2013 - Visitors!
A small army of children and their parents visited the farm today to get a lesson on chickens and eggs. A good time was had by all. See picture of the kids and the chickens in the Gallery on this date.
April 18, 2013 - Rooster?
I strongly suspect one of the 3 new Light Brahma chicks is a boy. At 5 weeks, it's unsual to be able to tell, but I'm watching. He's taller, has bigger feet and screams like a wild man when I catch him. :-)
April 8, 2013 - Wind!
We had terrible wind (30+ mpg gusts) yesterday. At about 3p I went to gather eggs and found the door to the coop/nests had blown shut and the girls could not get in. I opened the door and there was a near stampede to get to the nests. Poor dears held those last 10 eggs in for as long as they could. I found 2 on the ground outside. I feel so guilty. :-(
On a happier note, the chicks (almost a month old already) didn't even notice the wind all snug in their brooder in the tack room. I hope to get pictures of my new little birds soon.
April 2, 2013 - Broody
One of my new Black Australorps is broody. Already! In the past I separated them from the nests to force them out of wanting to be mothers. Since I want to downsize my flock, I've decided not to deal with broodies. The feed store takes them and will post a sign explaining their 'condition'. Some people want broody hens to hatch eggs laid by fertile hens. I took this opportunity to cull one of the Barred Rocks who bites me (hard) if I don't watch out. Not a good habit when I have guests from time to time. So we are down to 24 adults and 8 babies.
March 14, 2013 - Chicks!
I got 8 babies to start the process again. I wasn't going to get any Easter Eggers. The lineup this year includes 4 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 3 Light Brahmas, andI wanted one Black Australorp. Unfortunately, the blacks didn't show up at the feed store this week so I got one funny pale grayish EE to round out the group.
I hope the Wyandottes will be as strikingly beautiful as the last one I had who died before her first birthday. See the new group in the Gallery on this date.
A little later than last year, the girls are beginning to lay. Maybe the very cold winter we've had so far?
We culled the last of the nearly 5-year-old hens last fall bringing our total to 26. I've been able to sell one dozen eggs a week all winter thanks mostly to the newbies. My neighbor who babysits the girls was thrilled to get eggs all winter.
I wormed everybody with Piparazine and Ivermectin in December. This was the lowest production time for our once-a-year clean out.
I hope to photograph the lovely girls soon since they are all feathered out and looking their best right now.
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