Monday, 11 October 2010

The new girls

With the new larger pen (the purple palace) there is room for more chickens so we decided to increase the flock. Although they will live with us until they die of old age, every couple of years we intend buying a couple more to keep up the supply of eggs.  Our original ladies are now over three years old so their egg production has reduced from 4-5 per week each to approximately 2 each per week.  As they age, it will become even less.
We rang Allan and asked him to bring us a few more next time he delivers their food. He had four point-of-lay hens available.
When they first arrived they were rather uncertain of their new surroundings and huddled together in the corner of the pen. They really don't look happy do they?
They are lovely quiet girls and don't mind being handled. That's the advantage of buying them from someone like Allan who hand-raises his chickens.

We chose to buy the whole four because we hoped it might spread the aggression if/when the old girls pick on them. Chickens can be nasty creatures. Flo is the boss and has to assert her authority, but they all joined in.
It's calmed down now (after about two weeks) to just the occasional peck if the younger ones try to go through the doorway first or try to steal food from the older ones.
We added a second roost in their pen so the new girls could have their own bed.  The first night they all slept together in one of the nesting boxes, but now they use their roost - with their backs turned to the old girls.

They've settled in well. They go in and out the pen to the compost bins and bamboo area whenever they please now. We are now collecting five eggs a day and only one or two look like pullets' eggs so it would seem that the older ladies have decided to lay more often as well.
The only problem I have now is naming them. They are all so similar I can't tell them apart yet. I might wait a while until we get to know each other better. I'm sure they will all have their own personalities just like the older ladies.

11 comments:

  1. How lovely to have chooks - we dont have enough room, but our neighbours behind have one (the others all died) I love to hear her chatting away to me while I am busy working in that area.

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  2. They are funny, little creatures aren't they. We're preparing to get some chickens this month too. Actually we're getting some fertile eggs and are having a go at hatching our own. I look forward to seeing how yours progress.

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  3. I'm in the same boat as Africanaussie. I'd love some but don't have the room or a well fenced enough block for them to wander free range. Maybe one day.

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  4. Hen rearing is something I have been considering for some time. May I ask a few questions? Why do you get adults instead of baby chicks? Are there any specific kind of chicken more suitable for this purpose; egg laying? When you go for a holiday, you put them in chick hotel? Just kidding on the last one.

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  5. It's interesting to read about the social dynamics. The old girls must feel like middle aged wives who are in competition with cute young things. Amazing that their egg production has picked up!

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  6. One - to answer your questions, chickens are great to have around. You should get a few. We buy them at about 20 weeks (point of lay) because they are then old enough to put in with the adults. The new ones are Isa Browns. They are a cross breed between a Rhode Island Red and White (I think). They are the most popular backyard hen here, but next time I'd like to raise some younger ones and I'd like to try some different breeds. You want good layers but also ones that have a quiet temperament.
    When we go on holidays two lovely young girls who live over the road feed them for us and collect the eggs.

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  7. Glad to read that your new girls seem to have settled in. One of the reasons we didn't do what they call "replacement pullets" here was the integration factor. It is amazing how aggressive some hens can be toward new-comers as we saw for ourselves this year with Frodo. At least your new girls had each other, and enough of them, to hold their own until the new social order was worked out. They're beautiful birds, I love the splash of white on them! :)

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  8. Missy, Thank you for the reply. Hope you haven't been chasing those young chicks all over.

    Quiet temperament? You would know their temperament because you got the older ones, right? I am thinking of getting baby chicks. My neighbor's chicks turned out to be male although they asked for female at the time of purchase.

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  9. Glad your new chickens are settling in Missy!

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  10. Hi Missy, I wish I have chooks too. But our place is so small don't have place for them to run around. Great that you can collect fresh eggs.

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I would love to know what you think and appreciate your comments.

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