New Chicks on the Block

Hi there keepers, and readers, we have new chicks in the flock. Three new Wyandotte Gold Lace, we did have a Minorca too, but if fear it landed on a thorn or got stung by a Weta, unforseen dangers. As we have no rooster, we got some fertile eggs from our friendly breeder, Raewyn Norton of Waitakere Township. The hatch rate was about 50%, as we had another Minorca that didn’t make it much passed the hatching stage, maybe as our broody hen is a Wyandotte, she wasn’t paying too much attention to the ones that didn’t look like hers? The three survivors are all doing well, learning from there surrogate mother, how to find grubs in the ground, etc. I will add pics to this post soon. The new chicks on the block will boost our flock back to a reasonable number for a backyard chicken coop.

Counting Your Chickens

Hi there keepers, I have truly found out the meaning of  ‘ Do not count your chickens before the eggs have hatched ‘ . We bought eight fertile eggs from our regular breeder, she said at the time she was having about an 80% hatching rate, good we thought, we’ll have six new chicks, which would bring us to capacity for our urban chicken run,  maximum allowed in our city 12 hens, no roosters.

So three weeks ago we popped the eggs under our broody hens and waited with excitement, we discussed the feed requirements, planned the trip to the rural store some miles away, to buy the special chick feed. This very weekend I made some measurements for extra chick requirements in the coop, anticipating that they would be along at any second.

However yesterday when I looked in on the broody pair, I was so disappointed, it seems they have broken most of the eggs, I’m not sure if it’s just from being clumsy on the nest or if one of them is attacking the foreign eggs, but it appears that only four are left intact, and whether they will hatch now after 24 days seems unlikely, it was very frustrating and annoying after all the efforts I’d made for the arrival of these chicks, so I can now say the saying ‘ Don’t count your chickens before your eggs have hatched’, from first hand experience. Good luck with your hatchings.

Changing Seasons

Hi there keepers, the seasons are a changing, we’re in springtime down here in New Zealand, the Daffodils have been and gone, the Bee’s are swarming, and the hens are aware of the new year, Renee has already started to brood 2 days ago, we want to get some fertile eggs to put under this time, as are small flock has been depleated with the loss of Nelly and Daisy, and also last year Renee sat on the nest box for 2 months of more, and became quite dirty and thin, we thought if we give her some chicks to rear, she be off the nest quicker.

Another feature of the warmer weather is flies, this hadn’t been much of a problem in the past, other than a few extra ones in the house on occassion, however this spring I have encounter a nasty side of flies, one of our Shavers or Cinnamon Queens as someone described them the other day, had an infestation of maggots, I had heard of fly blown cattle before, mainly sheep, but  didn’t realise chickens were suseptable to them, since making a comment on another forum, I had several accounts of lots of different animals being attacked by fly, kittens seemed to be the most disturbing.

What I found was an open wound just below her vent, with 30 – 40 maggots wriggling around, quite digusting, as it was just below the vent it got very dirty, from the look of her comb, I’d say she got a touch of blood poisoning, I noticed a slight darkening to the tips of the comb.  So it was into the operating theatre ( laundry room), hot bath’s and cut away the dirty feathers around the wound, alot of the maggots came out in the hot water, but some needed prizing out with a cocktail stick, it wasn’t pleasant, the smell of the wound added to the whole experience. After ensuring all the maggots were out, and the infected flesh had been removed, I just scrape it away with wooden skewer, once this had been washed out with warm water using cotton buds, I applied some antiseptic cream. I repeated this for 3 days, and she seems to be on the mend, although she’s not out of the woods just yet, she’s very weak from not eating properly.

I’ll let you know how she gets on of course, and any other bits that crop up with the changing seasons. happy keeping.

Back in the Eggs

Well it seems the winter has passed, the daffodils are starting to reach for the sun, and the first one popped it’s face out today, the other sign is,

eggs eggs eggs

 two of the shavers have started laying again. Its been a while since I found a brown egg in the nest box, a good few months. This will be the third summer we have had our hens, I wonder if their prime laying years are already over?. I do remember one of the breeders we obtained our chicks from saying to replace the birds after 2 years if you want to keep a good supply of eggs.

Of course she was looking at it from a commercial point, but you can’t just dispose of pets after 2 years and replace them with younger models,  it was quite difficult to return the two roosters, Dorothy and Maria, (aka Dave and Manuel), and  we’d only had them for a few months, before we realised they were boys, and besides I don’t think anyone else would put up with ‘big fat Renee’s’ constant moaning.

So the eggs are a plenty again after the longest dry period we’ve had since being keepers of the chicken. May your nests be full and your birds be healthy and happy.

Has Nancy Gone Broody?

Hi there reader, low and behold as I looked out of the window down into the garden this morning, there she was, I called to her with the same sort of tone you would use after loosing a friend at a festival , ‘ Nancy!!! , there you are ‘. It was great to her well, if a little hungry.  What struck me straight away as I went out into the garden, although Nancy had returned there was no sight of any other bird, all seven were hiding, as it turned out not so much hiding, just away from Nancy, it really seemed as if she were being ignored by the others, the three newbies were down in the ginger bush,  with Nellie, the shaver most pecked by Nancy, and the other three were down in the bamboo by the edge of the creek, both groups had that look about them, you when you come into a room and the conversation stops, and everybodies pretending to just be talking about the weather.

There they were the two factions of hens in their hides, discussing Nancy, ‘ I see she’s back then! ‘ , ‘ I thought we’d seen last last of her ‘ , maybe the chicks were consouling Nellie, ‘ I know, she pecks us too, it’s not very nice, hmm ‘.  Well all their ignoring her payed off, I noticed she was starting to squeeze her way through the bamboo fence again, into Mani’s garden, so I watched her, unfortunately I had to go the post office, early closing Saturday, by the time I had wrapped the parcel, she had disappeared from sight, I look in the neighbours garden, racing her last movements, no sign. So I think she has gone broody and is laying in secret somewhere nearby, sitting patiently for eggs that will never hatch, bless her.

Missing!!!

Hi there keepers, well grave news I fear, Nancy has gone it seems, she has not return to the coop now for two nights, she came back breifly the first day, but no sign of her at all yesterday, she didn’t leave a note or forwarding address, quiet rude. It has been suggested to me that she has gone broody, however she wasn’t laying before hand, infact as far as I’m aware she has only ever layed 1 egg while she has been in our keeping. Is it possible that she is starting to lay , but wants to do that away from the others?

The other reason I thought might be at the bottom of this behaviour, is that now the chicks are growing up, she may feel her role as top hen is under threat from Dororthy, who is now bigger than the shavers, and still has some growing to do, she’s definately not scared of the older girls any more. Also I’ve realised that the coop needs to be bigger, there’s enough room for the 8 to sleep, but there are on top of each other a bit, usually 3 up 5 down, but it gets messy alot quicker with 8 in there.

My initial reaction when Nancy went missing was, ho hum, she doesn’t lay, she pecks all the others to distraction, and costs us to keep her, however it’s hard not to feel attached to her after 6mths, now I’m starting to feel a bit sad that she might not come back again, it’s a big bad world for a lonely chicken.  So if you are reading this in an internet cafe nearby please come home Nancy.

General Update

mangawhaiHi there keepers, lots and nothing to report really, I think maybe I’m taking things more in my stride now with the girls, getting a bit more farmer like about it, rather than pet keeper. In that vein, the biggest news is that weve lost an egg a day, we at first suspected Daisy was laying somewhere else, however after a bit of spying, which takes some time and cunning, as they seem to be aware of you watching them, and don’t want to give away the location of the nest, I saw that Daisy is laying in the communal nest, so who is going elsewhere? No one as it turns out, the truth is Nellie has stopped production, not sure of the reason? it’s still summer, the diet is the same (varied), the only difference is the new chicks.

 I have my suspicions Nellie is older than the others, and may just have come to the end of her prime, as far as egg laying goes.

Dorothy the light Sussex is now slightly bigger than the shavers, and she is starting to become more dominant, her and Daphne were invloved in a tug of war over the end of a baguette, Dorothy won the larger piece, and there was no chase given by Daphne, which definately wasn’t the case two weeks ago. Manuella is coming out of her shell too, and is getting in amongst it all, fighting for her place in the flock.

I think the heat is getting to the girls a bit, as they seem to have wanted to roost outside the coop for the past two nights, which have been hot.

Going of on another camping trip, for a week this time, so the chickensitter ( Terry), will be in residence for the next few days, I’m sure there will be stories to report on our return.

In the Big House

Hi there keepers, as some of you may know we have 3 new chicks, one of which only just arrived three days ago, as we had to swap Maria the rooster, for Manuella the Minorca hen, which has caused more pecking and general trouble at mill, so in an attempt to force them all to get on, I decided to put them all in the same coop for the night, as they don’t tend to fight in the coop, probably because it’s dark and they wouldn’t be too sure who they were pecking, and heaven forbid they should peck Nancy(boss) by mistake.

Well they went to bed in a peaceful state, and all was well, but in the morning a different story, once they could see who was who they were off, i arrived down in the morning to hear much fuss coming from inside the coop, only Nancy had escaped the coop, she seems to be the only one who can push the door open. I think it helped though, as they seemed to be slightly more friendly towards each other.

We put them in together again last night, and there was less fuss in the coop this morning, so hopefully by tommorrow or the end of the week, they’ll be all be firm friends ( except Nancy).

Happy New Year

Hi there keepers,  Happy new  year to you all, thanks for your support during 2008, and I look forward to it again this year. I plan to do so much more than last year, so there should be plenty to report on.  At present much seems to be the same, however it’s the shift in mindspace that’s the key, funny how we can’t seem to do this at any other time of year, afterall it’s only really another day, but it seems to have an effect unlike any other, which I suppose means it isn’t like any other day.

So far this year, the chicks have now got a new found freedom, as they are big enough to be let out daily, which they seem to be enjoying, the big girls have moved their nest again, we found 9 eggs on returning from our breakaway, our chicken/house sitter missed out there, but i’m sure we’ll make it up to him. He told me a funny story on our return, he said one day 4 of the 5 hens were missing, he’d looked around the nearby area, no sign, so he went back out into the garden, where the solo hen was still there, by this time he said he was quite worried, and just then as if on cue, they all ran out of a nearby shrubery, as if to say ‘ surprise!!!’, an organised trick on the temp.

Civil engineers started back today with their noisey machinery, at 8am, so the ‘sleep in’  part of the holiday is over for now, but the weathers sunny so not so bad being up earlier.

I hope you all have a great start to the new year  and it continues to the next.

Chicks Out

Hi there, yesterday we allowed the chicks out for a proper free range in the garden, they have been in the run before now, but never just let roam free in the garden, so ofcourse this was a bit scary for them, also mixed with excitment Í think because they reminded me of a bunch of school kids in Hamley’s toy shop,  ‘  and look what they have over here, wow,  oh oh look at this’  running around not stopping anywhere for more than a second, too many things to explore.

The entertainment value for us was great , but the highlight had to be when Maria the biggest of the chicks, she is probably as big as the shavers now, got frightened of a Monarch butterfly flying overhead, I know they are larger than some, but really, she hopped and skipped, ran, tried to fly away, ducked down as the buttterfly swooped overhead.

I keep saying she, as we are hoping that she is a she and not a he, as we’re not allowed roosters, however her comb is very large as is her tail and to top it off she has on occasion framed up to the bigger girls through the fence, time will tell. After loooking at pics of black Minorcan’s, the females do tend to have bigger features than some other breeds, fingers crossed.

Minorca hen

Minorca hen