Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chickens.... chickens chickens...

We have our hands full of broody chickens. A hen is referred to as broody when she has decided to sit on a clutch of eggs. I'm not sure what has gotten into our flock of 20-some-odd hens and a single roo, but after the first hen hatched her chicks the others went running to nesting boxes with intentions of their own.
What to do with all these gals? Well, we only had one separate pen set up for a broody, so today my darling husband (oh how he is patient with this stuff he cares nothing about!) made yet another brooding box with two separate areas which enable us to house two more broody hens. And then their chicks. I thought the view from inside looking out down the little walk way was pretty darn cute.
These two gals, a Rhode Island Red and a Buff Orpington, will house the new digs. We move them at night, when they are sleepy. Ever hear the saying about a sitting duck? I think it should be about sleeping chickens. Our flock isn't overly friendly, we don't handle them. I don't view them as our pets, they are our food. We are kind, feed them awesome food, and make sure they have good lives. Beyond that, let's be honest: Chickens are food. It's funny to handle them at night then. They seem awake, but don't protest a bit. I've opened the coop door to see who was sleeping in a nesting box (and thus pooping in it, a big no-no) and move them to the roost (yup, some chickens have to be trained to follow basic survival instincts. It's not called a bird brain for nothin'!) only to have a sleeping chicken fall to the ground and not even wake up! Pretty funny.
I just recently moved this Golden Laced Wyandotte to the original broody box.
When I moved the Wyandotte, this Buff Orpington and her five 7 week old chicks were forced to move out.
There are several fun things about watching a hen hatch chicks. First, it takes no direct work. Provided a safe spot, she sits on them, she hatches them, she ensures they eat and drink. After a few short days, the chicks start to find their way out of the pen and into the garden. It's pretty neat. We've learned to keep the mama hen out of the garden; After the last one went nuts on the asparagus bed I exiled all adult chickens from the garden. I have a soft spot for babies though, and they aren't big enough to venture too far or do too much damage. I move them all to the main flock when they are around 7 weeks, it has turned out really well so far. Our resident rooster, Rowdy, defends those chicks almost as fiercely as the mama! Our flock has a covered pen and a huge fenced yard to which they have constant access. The fence is more to keep neighbor dogs out, the chickens can slip through if they wish but dogs can not.

I'll tell you a bummer about a bunch of broody hens though --
empty nesting boxes!

This is the first graduate. She has integrated in with the main flock quite well. As far as I can tell she is a Rhode Island Red/Golden Laced Wyandotte cross. She is the lone survivor from our first hatch of six. Not great odds on that first batch. Our second hatch has been better. Only one has gone missing.
She's cute, isn't she?

1 comment:

Marlyn said...

I love the chicken tales!