Monday, February 06, 2012
A Tail Of Two Chickens
With the addition of 5 new hens our egg production is starting to ramp up. I say 'starting to' because they are just now beginning to lay even though they are supposed to be a year old. I know they laid for the guy we got them from but had stopped completely come winter, where ours kept on laying.
Here are 2, well actually 3, of the new hens waiting for a nesting box to open up. If you look carefully behind them in a nesting box, there is a 3rd hen standing over one of our old hens in the same box! I guess they got anxious or thought they couldn't hold it or something! I don't know. Just in case Jack built 3 more boxes on the wall opposite these. They say 1 box for every 5 hens should be enough but we've noticed a pile up a couple of times so thought maybe a couple more boxes wouldn't hurt.
As I was saying though, you can see these new hens are a little scruffy looking. Most of their tail feathers are missing and their other feathers are kinda gapped up and well, they just looked scrawny. I picked one of them up one day and it was scrawny! Poor little things, I don't think they got fed a whole lot where they were.
Now, this one that I've named Bobbi, for obvious reasons, looks okay. Smooth, shiny feathers and fairly plump looking. Just absolutely no sign of any tail feathers. I don't know what has caused this.
Our original bunch looks quite healthy I think and they should, considering how spoiled they are! I have discovered a lot of rural people just don't feed their chicks much or supplement their scratch any. Now, we don't want to spend a fortune of feed but we do want them to be healthy and happy. Oh yeah, ol' Runt feels he has to put on the "proud rooster" pose any time I come around with the camera.
We give all our chickens free choice 3-way scratch and the hens get a layer mash if they want it. Of course, they get to range the yard for bugs and greens. We also cook a little rice or oatmeal for them on occasion and they get leftover fruits and veggies if we have them. Jack also goes to the discount bread store for $.50 loaves and they get a handful of bread as a treat now and again. About twice a week they get a vitamin supplement in their water and a little apple cider vinegar in there too. Any hen that is molting gets a few bites of cat food to help through this process. They say the protein helps them get their feathers back sooner. I don't give them much though. Just a few bites. They may occasionally get yogurt or some cottage cheese too.
Since the meat birds don't get out we try to supplement their regular grains with as much greens as I can find. We went to my mom's the other day and brought back two big sacks of turnip greens for them. They loved them! They had already gobbled most of them in this picture.
They also get the vitamin water, vinegar and cooked rice or oats.
I have to leave tomorrow for work so I don't know when I'll get to post again. Hopefully it won't be too long. Those of you who ordered stuff; I fired last night, so barring any catastrophes I haven't seen yet, Jack will be mailing your orders off in the next day or two. Thanks for being patient!
And Peg, I received my little hat!!! I love it!! thanks so much! It does get cold here, although you couldn't tell it from this winter, so I'll be wearing it often.