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The Poultry Project Blog - 2016, Year 9

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(entries below are in chronological order, bottom up)

December 16, 2016 - Winter

Turning the lights off had an almost immediate effect on the duck. She stopped laying. All of the Easter Eggers have stopped--they don't usually lay in winter, but I had most of them fooled with the lights. The older girls have begun molting. We are still getting 3 to 6 eggs a day so should not have to resort to store eggs this year.

December 1, 2016 - Lights Off

We've had automatic lights going early in the morning to simulate 14 hours of daylight. We did that to get the last group of chicks to start laying sooner. They will give us some eggs through the winter. Since they have started now (well except the EE), it's time to let the older girls molt and rest.

Not sure why it took this long to notice... When a young chicken begins to lay, she is either accepted into the "club" or gains confidence to no longer be afraid of the club girls. Pecking order changes. The new Mottled Houdan and Silver Laced Wyandottes are laying almost every day and were immediately included in big girl activities. Their EE sister is still an outcast--probably now she'll be so till spring. :-(

November 15, 2016 - Mystery Solved

Our missing Houdan must have flown out of our enclosure and went to live next door. Since one of the kids there has adopted her as a pet, I let them keep her--naturally, that was the prettier of the two I had left. To make up for it, her remaining flockmate began laying an egg nearly every day--small, white eggs--so I'm happy.

November 12, 2016 - Missing in Action

One of the 2 remaining Mottled Houdans disappeared today. I didn't notice until they all went to bed and there was only one. No signs in the pasture, but I suspect a hawk. These girls are still babies and a hawk has carried young birds away once in the past. The Houdans don't see well with all the feathers on their heads. I clipped feathers away from the eyes on the remaining girl. Maybe ornamental girls are not for me!

October 4, 2016 - Merging Generations

Four May girls joined the rest of the flock. We moved them after dark so they wake up on the roosts with the big girls. The first few weeks are always hard on the newbies, but somehow they manage to fit in. As my husband points out, chickens have been around for a long, long time. :-)

September 29, 2016 - Another Rooster Departs

One of the 3 Mottled Houdans is a boy. The same neighbor who took the early season rooster wants this guy too. But this one will be dinner. He is not a nice rooster to his girls. None of them are allowed to have treats. He jumps on them and pecks them hard if they try.

Now I'll get the girls to be a little more confident before moving them in with the rest of the flock. They will be 19 weeks old and the Silver Laced Wyandotte's comb is turning red--a sign of her first egg coming soon. Normally getting chicks in May means they lay MUCH later--as much as 30 weeks after hatching. We have been turning on lights early in the morning to maintain 14 hours of light for them. It appears to be working.

June 28, 2016 - Egg Laying Behavior Modification

So, finding eggs on the floor isn't a big deal, but we have plenty of perfectly good nests where eggs are safe. And laying eggs into the dropping pit is just weird. Today I covered the floor with shade cloth and the roosts with cardboard. The floor girl figured it out and now lays in a nest. Yay. Roost girl

June 23, 2016 - First Eggs

The February chicks have begun laying. 18 weeks old. So far it's the Black Sex Link and the Black EE. The EE is laying on the floor, the Sex Link over the dropping pit--what? At first I thought she was dropping the eggs overnight, but then I found her doing it during the day.

June 18, 2016 - Life Goes On--or Not

One of the tinyiest new chicks (the Light Brahma) died in the first week. :-(

The rooster from the February chicks went to live with a neighbor who was planning to butcher him, but now may keep him for a small flock of hens. They are naming him Rocky so I think he gets to live. He is a lovely EE.

And finally, I merged the February babies (17 weeks old and almost ready to lay) in with the big girls. I did it right according to chicken pros. After dark one evening my husband and I went out and moved each youngster to the big girls roosts so they wake up together the next day. I also clipped one wing of each baby and we are closing off the nests at night so they have no alternative but to sleep with the big girls. So far everything is going well. Next hurdle--to see if they will lay eggs in the fancy roll-out nests!

May 26, 2016 - Mottled Houdans!

I've waited since February to adopt some Mottled Houdans. Today was the one day of the year my feed store got them. Three little girls are enjoying the brooder. See them in the Gallery.

April 6, 2016 - Chicks Move Outside

At 7 weeks old, the chicks are all feathered out and ready for more room. Even though I gave them handfulls of grass while they were in the brooder, there's nothing like the real thing to eat and peck.

I'm suspecting that one of the EE babies is a Rooster. :-( This happens almost every time I get this breed. By the time they are 10 weeks I'll know for sure.

See them in the Gallery.

February 18, 2016 - Chicks!

Seven babies have arrived. See them in the Gallery.

January 14, 2016

This blog bogged down a bit last year since I didn't get new chicks for the first time since I started. New babies will join us again this year and that time is coming up fast.

Since the last chicks, the room where I brood the babies was remodeled and looks so much nicer. See pics of the new digs in the Gallery.

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