Posts Tagged speckledys

She just curled up her toes!!

We went down to clean the chickens out this afternoon.  We did all the normal stuff, changing their straw, sweeping out the sawdust and droppings, filling up their pellet feeder and changing their water.  Neil was in the hen enclosure doing the water, when he saw one hen step on another that was laying down.  The laying down hen did not move, which Neil thought was odd, so he went to investigate and found that one of our Speckledy’s had just curled up her toes and was lying in the sunshine dead!!

We had no warning of this.  She had not acted poorly in the preceding days, we had not seen any signs that anything was wrong and there she was laying on a patch of grass in the middle of their run, so unlikely that she died of fright!! We can only assume her heart gave out or something similar to suffer sudden hen death.

Neil took her poor body away to the woods for the fox disposal service. So now we are down to 13 hens, 12 laying birds and one foster mum, who doesn’t lay at the moment as she is still looking after the chicks which are 7 weeks old today.  Today we had 11 eggs, including one massive one (ouch!!), so not bad for 12 hens!!

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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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Signs of Spring arriving

We have been having a spell of warm weather in March and it really has started to feel like Spring is here.  The flowers are responding and we have many blooms in flower.  The bees have been out and flying gathering pollen.

bumble bee on the hyacinth

Our half moon baskets by the front door are full of flower now, including the little tete a tete daffodils.

half moon basket in flower

The bumble bees have particularly been keen on the crocus.

Purple crocus in flower

The rhubarb is showing through and all the little strawberry plants have new leaves.  There are buds on the fruit trees and shoots on the raspberry canes. Also we have sheep (but no lambs) in the field behind our garage so we wake up in the morning to the sound of baa baa!!

sheep in the field behind our garage

One of our hens, a Speckledy has gone broody on us. She just sits in the nest box all day long, and sits on the eggs the other hens lay.  I have taken to lifting her off every now and again, as I want to make sure she gets some food and water, but she just goes back there.  We don’t have anywhere to segregate her, so anybody got any ideas what to do with her?

Anyway the other hens are still laying so that is OK, we still have eggs for breakfast!!

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Out with the old, in with the new!! – Hens

Our old brown warrens and brown lohman hens have not been laying much now for quite a while and we were wondering what to do about it.  We got the 4 new point of lay brown warrens 2 weeks ago and that had taken us up to capacity in the hen house, so we didn’t have room for any more new ones whilst we still had the old ones.

Then Neil had an idea.  We could offer the old ones up as pets on “Freecycle”.  Freecycle for those who don’t know is a bit like ebay but where no money is exchanged.  You offer something that you want to get rid of and someone replies they’d like it and then they come and pick it up.

Anyway we got several replies and we studied them to ensure that where our old hens went was going to be suitable accomodation with lots of space to run around in, and we chose a place in Barrington, which is quite near here.  The couple came over on Wednesday and picked them up.  They were a really nice couple, stayed for an hour, had a cup of tea with us, and we were assured they were going to a good home, but I did feel a bit guilty about letting them go, just because they weren’t laying much.

We trawled the internet and found a poultry farmer near Wellington who had for sale point of lay pullets that were different breeds.  And on Friday afternoon we made our way through the rain and the country roads to Fenton Farm, in Pouton Regis,which was the middle of nowhere.  We were shown to 2 barns full of hens and then the farm hand had to catch them for us.  He used a landing net because they are quick and they don’t like being captured!!  We had taken a large cardboard box with us to put them in, but as soon as we got one in and then went to put the next one in, the first one would jump out again, so it was quite amusing trying to catch 8 new ones.

We have purchased 2 cream legbar hens, that have lovely markings, gold on top with grey underneath. They will lay blue eggs.

a cream legbar hen

Also 3 Speckledys, which are grey speckled and will lay speckled eggs.

A Speckledy hen

And 3 Light Sussex which will lay brown eggs.

A Light Sussex hen

At first our 4 Brown Warrens were pecking the new girls and intimidating them, so much so that the new girls wouldn’t come out of the hen house. However they are just bird brains, here they are pecking at the label on the young pear tree.

The Brown Warren hens

Today, which is only 2 days since their arrival the new hens ventured out into the paddock and had a peck around, so that was pleasing to see.  I’m sure it won’t take long for them to settle in and find the pecking order.

The new girls in the paddock

Now all we need is for them to start laying eggs.  The actual age of the birds when they start laying can be between 22 and 24 weeks, so we may have to wait a few weeks before we get regular eggs.  I might even have to go and buy some, which I’ve not done for over a year.  Anyway they had better start laying soon, as I’ve promised our B&B guests fresh eggs from our own hens!!

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