There have been a number of movements within the flock since my last chicken update. The seriously egg-eating sisters, Kitty and Georgiana are no more, leaving just Frodo and Lorelai from the old flock. When I started to think that most of the 14 youngies were boys, I asked The Husband if my Christmas present could be 2 or 3 hens or pullets. He needed a new phone and I needed chickens, so that seemed like a fair trade. I swiftly sourced some Australorp pullets and at the same time, was asked if I wanted to re-inherit two hens that I raised and sold to The Big Sister-in-law, meaning I conveniently got four new chickens. A very Merry Christmas indeed! The Big Sister-in-law’s family will be holidaying overseas then moving, so I was more than happy to welcome home these two broody-inclined hens:
Anyone remember Bluefro, Tiny and Darkie, daughters of Frodo and Mr Bingley and sisters to Kitty and Georgiana? They were given the names of Nugget, Salt and Pepper. Unfortunately, Pepper passed away, but Nugget and Salt are in great condition after a good life roaming a suburban garden.
There’s just one problem. Salt is an egg-eater. She wasn’t in with any of my other hens to start with and I’d been told she hadn’t laid for a while after her last bout of broodiness, so I’m quite sure the egg-eating started before she got here. I haven’t gotten a single egg from her in the 3 1/2 weeks I’ve had her, while Nugget has been laying very well. Thus, Salt has spent most of her time here by herself or in with some of the little boys. I know she is laying, because she nests, whether in a nestbox or digging a hollow in the bedding, but when I go to check after she’s gotten up, sometimes singing the egg song and sometimes being very quiet, there is nothing to show. And she’s not broody. She looks in excellent condition, despite not eating quite as much as I would expect, which points to extra nutrition gained from scoffing eggs. She is very, very stealthy. This is quite gutting, as she’s a beautiful, friendly chicken and has been much loved, and I am just way over egg-eating chickens by now. There’s only one thing for it. It does make me wonder if there is some genetic thing that contributed to this egg-eating family.
Nugget, however, got the privilege of being reunited with her mother, Frodo. Nugget has been bossing around all the other chickens, including Lorelai, but she did not mess with Frodo! Frodo pulled rank and now they are getting along very happily with each other.
My two new blue Australorp Christmas pullets are also doing well. They were around 11 weeks old when I got them, so about 3 weeks older than my hatched littlies. They slotted in very easily. Since I kind of got three French hens for Christmas, if you don’t count Salt, I figured I should give the two Australorp pullets French names. So, here are Josephine and Juliette:
And now onto the 14 hatchlings. They are almost 11 weeks old now and so far there’s been no sign of Mareks. The five crossbred boys I knew of already were separated into a different pen to reduce pressure on the others and so I would not be tempted to keep them. Must.. not… keep… pretty… cockerels… I am currently deciding whether to sell some of these boys or if I can convince The Husband to help me butcher them in the coming weeks. I don’t want to sell the big black Lorelai boy to anyone, as he is very assertive and bossy so would probably turn into a bit of a full-on rooster. And he’s noticeably bigger than the others so he would be good for the table.
That left me with three black crossbred girls, the daughters of Lorelai and the late Mr Bingley, and trying to figure out which Australorps were boys. I was right in my last round of guessing: four of them are boys. There is the blue boy, Mr Crowpants, two black boys and the white splash one is also a boy. That’s ok though, as it means I have some room to choose a good roo or two. I have an obvious favourite at the moment, one of the black boys. He is very gentle and easy to handle. After handling the youngies, girls and boys, I often let them go by holding them down low on the ground and patting them until they relax and calm down, as I would do for a rooster. This shows them that I’m in control and helps calm them down around me. The first time I did this to the black boy he promptly relaxed and sat on the ground for a while after I got up and walked away. I was most surprised to see this at his age, as they often run off promptly.
This means I have just one blue Australorp girl and Annie, the black Australorp from a different breeder. I’m pretty sure Annie is a girl. Hence, why I needed more female chickens for Christmas! Two of the Lorelai girls are very friendly, always coming up to me to chat, and they are quite easy to catch. I dare say at least one of them enjoys snuggles, so now I have more than one snuggle chicken. Warm fuzzies!
I have had suspicions about occasional egg-eating among the older hens, Frodo, Lorelai and Nugget, but they seem to be doing well, so maybe it was just me being a bit over-suspicious. I hope. I will be monitoring them closely and I have more than one pen now, so it is easy to separate them when I need to. Here’s hoping for a non-egg-eating year.