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.

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Flock Reduced

The numbers are down, our flock is less than half it’s size, due to mainly age, illness and the infamous chicken-napping of Daisy, one of our shavers. Even the three remaining birds have been reduced somewhat, by means of someone or something, slicing one of our hens combs, clean off. She’s not been herself since, becoming skitish, and timid. Summer is on it’s way, the temperatures are rising, the flies are back, already caught one of our hens with a dirty behind, habouring maggots in her feathers, warm bath sorted out the problem, making sure to get the mess off the feathers. It would be nice to get some replacements, however, I feel it would disrupt the coop. We are getting two eggs a day, which at present is enough for us, so I think we’ll wait till next season, as by then the two layers will be past their prime laying years.

Moulting or Molting, To-mat-oe or To-ma-toe

Moulting Manuella

Hi keepers, it’s that time of year again in New Zealand, the days are getting shorter and the air is growing cooler.  This is the trigger for the girls to start their moulting, the shedding of their feathers.  It looks worse than it is, to the unfamiliar, the hens will just start to drop feathers everywhere, the run can resemble the scene of a large pillow fight, they just get everywhere, the chickens themselves do look as if they have been in a fight,  or gone to a really bad hairdresser.

There’s not alot to done for them during this time, some say to add some nutrients to their water.  The down side to all of this is, they stop laying, all of their energy goes into growing new feathers, on the positve side, I have collected alot of the bigger tail feathers over the years and I am attempting some kind of feather art project.

So if you’re experiencing this for the first time, don’t worry,  it’s normal chicken behaviour.

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.

Eggs!

Hi there keepers, apologies for lack of added content lately, I’ve been busy making the New Zealand public laugh. Something that has been brought to my attention lately is eggs, well more the freshness of eggs, how long will they last? etc. I find that in itself and interesting question, in terms of we seem to have lost simple knowledge, i.e if something doesn’t have a shop use by date, we don’t know what to do. My advice is crack the egg over a cup if your unsure if it’s still ok to eat, and use your nose, not your eyes to tell you whether the egg is still fresh.

Our neighbour just moved his garden shed today,which was up against a wall of trelis fencing, and discover a nest containing 5 eggs, one of our shavers had been brooding in there last year, one egg cracked in the move, and it didn’t take very long for them to know those eggs were unedible, the children ran loudly from the scene holding their noses.

When we first got our hens, I bought a date stamp, so we could stamp our eggs with the date they were layed, I gave up on that a couple of weeks into it, as we seemed to eat the eggs as fast as were being layed. Again this is only my personal experience, for the amount of birds we have, but we keep our eggs in a wicker basket on the kitchen bench, out of direct sunlight, and place fresh eggs at the front, and use them from the back, this seems to work out fine, I have heard chefs say DO NOT  put eggs in the fridge. Finally if we end up with surplus eggs to our weekly requirements, we give them away to friends and neighbours, always a welcome gift.

Eggs are happy food, the more you eat the happier you get.

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.