Posts Tagged hen house

An “egg”traordinary number of eggs

In the storms we have had recently,  one section of roof off the old hen house blew off.  We know that we need to dismantle the old hen house and move it out of the hen enclosure, but the weather has been bad and we haven’t got round to that yet.  Anyway today Neil was feeding the hens and he noticed one come out of the old hen house through the broken roof.  So he had a look inside and lo and behold some of the hens had been laying their eggs in there and this is what he found – 21 eggs!!

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Some of the eggs were still warm, so quite fresh today, but others were stone cold so we aren’t sure how old those eggs are and if they are still edible or not.

The hens have taken to perching on the old hen house, the broken roof is on the other side of the roof in this picture.

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So now we are going to have to check the nest box of the old hen house every day until we take it down. Funny lot these hens!!

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A blue egg

When I went to collect the eggs today, there lying in the straw of the nest box was a single blue egg.  Mrs Cream Legbar, known to us as Lucy Legbar, is back in lay.  She hasn’t laid an egg for 6 weeks.  That sometimes happens when a hen moults, although we didn’t see any visible signs of that in Lucy Legbar.

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OK from the photo it doesn’t look very blue, but it is light duck egg blue, quite different from the various shades of brown that the other hens lay.  We only have the one Cream Legbar hen now, so that’s how we know it is her when she lays.  So very pleased to see Lucy Legbar back laying eggs again.  We had 8 eggs in total today, not bad for mid winter and no artificial light in the hen house as they do in commercial egg laying farms.

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Little chooks join the adults

Our two remaining little chooks as we call them are now 16 weeks old.  We decided it was time they joined the adult flock and were integrated into the proper run behind an electric fence.  They have grown so quickly, from newly hatched chicks into amost fully grown.  One is larger than the other, with a proper comb and lovely colouring, brown amongst the black.  The other is smaller with no comb at all!.  We are hoping they are both pullets ie female hens that will lay eggs as opposed to cockerels, but for the uninitiated it is still difficult to tell.  We will have to wait a few more weeks to see if they start crowing!!.

Our two 16 week old chicks

So last night at dusk when they had gone up into the hen house we picked them up one at a time and ringed them (so we could tell them apart from the other black rock hens) and cut their feathers on one side to stop them flying out, and then popped them in the other hen house with the adult hens.

This morning when I let them all out, these 2 were slightly reticent about coming out of the hen house, and as soon as they went near the food the others chased them away, and they hopped back into the hen house for cover.

We’ve just been down to prior to lunch to scatter some bread around for them and the larger one seems to have got the idea, but the smaller one is just running around clucking like mad.

It will take a couple of days for them to settle down and for the new pecking order to be established.  It will probably be another 8 weeks before they start laying eggs if they are pullets, so we will have to wait and see.

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Mayhem in the hen house

Yesterday evening it was dark by 10 to 7pm.  Neil went down to shut away the hens and came back in a tearing hurry shouting my name. “There’s a dog in the hen house and it’s killed one of our chicks” he cried out to me.  I couldn’t believe it.  How could a dog get into the hen house?

A couple of hours earlier I had seen our neighbour who has 4 dogs, ( a basset hound, 2 beagles and a great dane), and she was worried because she had lost her dogs.  She had let them off the lead in her garden and they had got out and she couldn’t find them straight away.   So over 2 hours had passed when Neil found one of her dogs, the 2 year old great dane, in our hen house.

This dog, although muzzled, had pulled at the wire mesh on the side of the run to the hen house and managed to actually get inside the run.  This was where we were keeping our 3 little chicks that we had hatched from eggs, separate from the rest of the adult hens.  We were thinking they were nice and safe in there, and we had separated them because they were smaller and on different food from the adult hens.

The wire mesh pulled away from the frame of the hen house

Neil had to go down there in the dark after dinner and make some running repairs to the hen run, other wise we would not be able to let the hens out in the morning.

Neil’s running repairs to the hen run

When Neil went down to the hens to shut the doors for the night, he could only see 2 of the 3 little hens and this great dane was still in the hen run and growling at him.  It’s a big dog to encounter in the dark, and he was shocked and surprised to find it there.

I managed to get hold of our neighbour on her mobile phone and she came round, but the dog had headed off leaving our 2 remaining chicks cowering in the nest box.  I was concerned they would die of shock.  The third chick, the little brown one was nowhere to be seen.  Neil searched all round for it, in case it had got out when the dog got in, but then he made a grim discovery.  Bits of chicken were trampled into the mud.  The third chicken had been savagely torn apart by the great dane.  Warning the next picture is a bit grim, but this was about all that was left of the chicken, 2 legs!!

Naturally we were horrified by this attack on a defenceless poor chick, and more so because these were the first chicks we had ever raised from eggs and we had nutured them and looked after them from day one, so to lose one in this way was very upsetting.  Our neighbour was more worried about her dog and said “its only a chicken”, which may well be the case, but it was one of our babies and we hated the thought of it being ripped apart by her dog.

A big dog like that which has not been to any obedience training classes, should not be let loose in a garden unless there is proper fencing to stop it getting out.  Luckily the other 2 babies have survived the shock, and although quiet today, have been eating.  The adult chickens were not harmed as they were behind an electric fence, but we had thought the little chicks were safe in their enclosed run, but we could not have foreseen this dog attack.

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Moving the chooks

As our baby chicks are now 4 weeks old we wanted to move them and their mum, Mrs Speckledy out of the ark and into the old hen house with an enclosed run.  We had purchased a new hen house for the other chickens, so we put that in place, added an electric fence and on Friday night moved them out of one hen house and into another, so that in the morning when they were let out they would be in their new run.

The new hen house

The next day we cleaned out the old hen house and made it ready for Mrs Speckledy and the babies, but catching them to move them proved slightly problematical.  Firstly Mrs Speckledy thought we were killing her she made such a racket, but as we moved her first, she obviously didn’t want to be separated from her brood.  Next it was the turn of the babies, but they are fast!!  One jumped out of the ark when we opened it and made a bid for freedom.  Good job we had taken the fishing net down with us, so we were able to catch it.

Neil with the little brown chook

The little ones squeaked like mad as they didn’t like being separated from Mum, so we moved them as quickly as possible.

me with a little black chick

It took a while for Mrs Speckledy and the baby chooks to come down the ramp and into the enclosed run, but they soon got the hang of it and there is a lot more space for them in that run.

The other hens were enjoying the long grass in the orchard as new turf to spuddle about in.

hens in the long grass

They soon made themselves a spot to have a dust bath and they scattered all the bark that we had put round the base of the trees.

the light sussex in their new area

So all in all a successful move for all the chooks.  Our original hens laid 11 eggs (out of 13 hens) on the first day they were in their new hen house and area, so I don’t think they were too traumatised by the move.

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