Our farm is constantly growing something whether it be crops for the cattle, the garden, the herd or the flock. Each spring I try to add new chicks to the flock so that in the winter months I can still have eggs while the older chickens can take a break. Most chickens start laying at six months of age. I recently added eighteen bitties to the farm.There are six Buff Orpingtons, six Speckled Susses and six Columbian Wyandottes.
This year I’ve decided to raise some chicks into egg layers. I let three hens hatch last year and out of nine hatched (30 set) we got five hens and four roosters. This is not a good plan!
I went to Rural King with hubby last week and picked up six Barred Rock chicks (hopefully hens) and six Black Sex Link chicks (also hopefully hens). I have them in a tote in our family room for the moment and they’re growing like weeds!
Here it is a week later and they’ve been introduced to a new feed trough. The little buggers were scratching the feed out of those feeder holes and wasting more than they ate. The feeder below doesn’t allow that as much and the quart water bottle was replaced with a half-gallon jar so they don’t run out of water during the night.
They have almost doubled their size from last week and they can actually fly up to the top of the water bottle. I will upgrade to a taller tote over the weekend instead of putting them in the brooder box because of the cold temps and their size.
When these chicks are 6-8 weeks old, I plan to start another clutch of them so that next winter we won’t have a few weeks without eggs. These chicks should start laying at 6-7 months of age and lay for 190-220 days before they molt and take a egg-laying-break for a month or so.
Love my chickens!!!
Please forgive my silence. Between the garden, animals and the issues unforeseen, I’ve just been inundated with work and only open the computer a couple times a week.
Our granddaughter graduated from high school in June and starts college in a couple weeks. Where has the time gone!!!
On top of that we have a brand new grandson born three months early and he’s in New Jersey (450+ miles from Virginia). He’s in a neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital in New Jersey. His mother had some major health issues which caused toxemia and the baby had to be delivered early on July 8th. He weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces and 14 inches long. He’s a little fighter and gained some weight and now weighs 3 pounds and 15 inches long. Declan Bryant is his name. He’s having some serious issues this week and the little guy is exhausted. Shawn, our son, is in New Jersey this weekend to see him for the second time and he’s keeping us updated.
I’ve been canning and freezing green beans, broccoli, cabbage, pickles, squash, apples, rhubarb and Eddie told me last night that I’ll have more beans in the coming week and corn after that. We’ve pulled the onions and waiting on the brussel sprouts. We have a crock of kraut fermenting now and hope it’ll be ready before anything else comes in.
I’ve taken on two part-time jobs working on websites for two sisters and working away from the house on one of them 2-3 days a week. The other one I do from home. It’s a little extra spending money. Our big yardsale/estate sale was for one day and we cleaned out one house on the farm and made around $2500.00. I’m in the process of filling it up again from the other buildings and we may have one more sale next spring just to get rid of it all.
This is enough news for now but will catch up again later. I haven’t touched my blog in some time but haven’t given up on it.
One more bit of news, neighborhood dogs that aren’t watched after cleaned out our duck population in one night back in June, I think, and another one got in my chickens this week. I’m down to 21 hens and two roosters at this point.
This is just a quick catch up and I’ll hopefully be back soon! Love you my friends and want to ask you all to keep our grandson and son in your prayers.
I had about 30 chickens over the winter and most of the thirty are only laying eggs a couple times a week if that often. I have at least three or four that don’t lay eggs at all now. I know I should cull and do something with them but I’ve had them for AT LEAST six years if not longer and have gotten attached to them. I don’t get all weepy if one dies of old age or gets snatched up by a fox or hawk but I just can’t seem to let them go into a pot!! Hubby says they’re too old to eat but I think maybe he thinks we just don’t have the strength to chew that long! 😉
Anyway, a neighbor gave us around 12-15 young hens a few months back and my pullets raised from old hens last summer are now laying. We’re getting 24-31 eggs a day.
BUT, I don’t want to go through another winter without fresh eggs again. Store bought eggs just don’t have any “umph”!! In April I took little brother to Tractor Supply and we both fell in love with the tiny fluffs of yellow fuzz and I bought home 12 of them.
Now, they’re half grown pullets and I wanted to get at least 12-15 more to grow up with the ones I have. Hubby built me a wonderful brooder box that holds 12-15 quite nicely and then built a run on stilts for the month old chicks.
He did such a wonderful job and after the babes are out running the farm with the old girls, we can raise some nice rabbits in that run. I love fresh rabbit!! Just don’t tell my future daughter in law!!!!
He made a brooder box as well which we’ve stored away and it’ll be used each year as well.
Here’s the little balls of yellow fluff almost fully grown. All I have to do is do our chicken song and they come running. We only have eight left, two roosters and six hens. Three of the twelve were Cornish Game Hens and they’re in the freezer and last week I lost one of my little hens.
These little ladies should start laying big brown eggs in late October or early November.
My chicks from last year turned out to be most Americauna and lay beautiful green and blue eggs and we get 9-12 of their eggs a day.
I sure have lots of broody hens this year. We just had another small hatch and I’m convinced “Elvis” is not spreading the love around and it’s time to add another rooster to the flock or two. This hen was set with 11 eggs (not all hers) and she started hatching on Sunday and finished yesterday with only four little chicks.
This red hen is due to hatch on the 26th.
These two ladies are wanting to set as well and I have to lift them off eggs that other hens are laying every day. Wish I could find some good fertile eggs!!
I have noticed that none of my green eggs are hatching so it will be interesting to see what kind of egg layers these turn out to be. I’ve set almost forty eggs this spring and only have eight chicks make it though 10 hatched. I’m hoping red hen will do better! Updates later.
My egg crop is dwindling these days because someone or should I say several of my ladies have decided to be “mommies” too!! This lady hatched two little ones about two weeks ago.
Then this lady fought me tooth and nail everyday when I tried to stop her broody situation and alas, she won out! She’ll hatch next Monday if all goes well.
Ten days later little red hen got real grouchy and tried to peck me every time I caught her on the nest. I decided there was room enough for a few more chicks in the hen-house so I set her too.
This may be his last year with the harem if we don’t get better hatches than the previous two were. Two out of nine eggs hatching is not great odds. He dpes have his own special ladies but you’d think he could spread the love around. Plus, there’s no eggs coming from these ladies while they’re setting and raising their young. We’ll see how things go and give progress reports as the summer rolls on. Now I have to figure out how to stop two more hens that have decided they like this kind of life as well!!
Our first chicks of the year are growing fast and their fuzz has turned to pin feathers. Of the three, two are alive and well. The little white one got under the grit pan when mom was scratching in the floor material and then he couldn’t get out. By the time I found her she was gone. 😦 The other two are growing fast and forage all over the farm just like Mom.
In about 10 more days, we’ll have another hatch by this lady.
Updates later and watching for the next broody mother.
This is “Crow”. She is a bantam which means she about half the size of a normal farm hen. She came to live with me about two years ago after her old family had to move and couldn’t take their chickens with them. I inherited her and seven or eight more chickens. Her eggs are about 1/2 the size of a normal chicken but she is a good layer.
Crow usually gets broody for me about three times a year. Because she is so small, I can only set six to seven regular eggs under her at a time. She is an excellent mother and very, very protective of her new babies. Generally, fertile chicken eggs which are hatched out by a hen will take 21 days before you see little faces staring at you from underneath their mamma’s wings. She is the main producer of my replacement hens using the large brown eggs or the blue/green eggs depending on what I have when she decides to “set”.
The babies she hatched in 2013 are now producing beautiful brown, blue and green eggs for our breakfast and for several of my friends and egg customers.
I set her with seven eggs on March 30th, 2014 and on April 21st I went to check on her after I got home from work and she was all fluffed up and “growling” at me. I didn’t want to upset her so I didn’t know how many had hatched but knew from her demeanor that she wasn’t completely done. I walked away anxiously waiting for my first view of our new chicks. I’ll see them when Crow is ready for me to see them.
Now we have three little balls of fluff.
I won’t be able to tell what their sex is until they’re about three to five weeks old but I was hoping for at least six hens out of the bunch but I take what I can get. I have no doubt at all that by mid-June she will “set” again.
More updates as the summer comes to Virginia!!
My chicken yard is growing in leaps and bounds this year. I lost two old hens and decided to let the broody hens have their way. The first lady to hatch is a bantam and I took her eggs away from her and replaced them with eggs from my larger hens. I only put six eggs under her because she was so small and she hatched four of the six.
The teens are now three months old and pretty much stay to themselves. They’re usually the first out of the henhouse each morning and the last to go in. I just wish they were all hens.
On the other hand, my little guys that are three weeks old, are also growing like weeds and the majority of them are hens. There’s thirteen living out of eighteen and they are ferocious eaters when they free range with mom. Look at the difference in three weeks.
From little bitties to these youngsters.
These little ladies should begin laying just about the time that my older hens shut down production during the winter. Don’t you just love the different colors??
On another subject, I experimented with a the eggs I set with the last two hens. I read a post on the National Poultry Blog that if you want to produce hens instead of roosters, you should make sure the eggs you set are more oval and not pointed. From what I can tell now, it really works. I don’t think I have but one or two roosters from the thirteen new babies. That’s what’s called a great “ratio”!! We’ll test it again next spring when my broody hens start up again.
This weekend I have new babies. Three of the four hens I had setting have hatched or are hatching. The first one I set with ten eggs revealed to me this morning eight multi-colored babies that are adorable.
The second hen revealed one last night but Mom won’t move off of them this morning so I can get pictures of them. She had seven eggs under her and I can’t wait to see how many hatch. Here she is being very protective. I’m sure she hasn’t moved off of them because more are trying to hatch. Hens usually don’t come off the brooding nest until the last one that’s going to hatch comes out of the shell.
The third hen has 14 eggs under her and I did find one hatched egg shell in front of her this morning but I don’t expect to see the babies until probably tomorrow.
More updates and pictures will be revealed in the coming days. Aren’t they adorable!!
These are their amorous and proud daddie, Elvis and Romeo!!
Back in a few days with updates!! 😉
Our egg count is down to 12-15 per day as of late. I have four hens sitting and should have a new flock started by the weekend. Here are three of them and they’re due to hatch somewhere between Wednesday and Saturday. All total they have 31 eggs under them and I set another one last Sunday that eight eggs under her. I’ll update as they hatch.
This one is number four and she will hatch two weeks later.
When I went to shut them up last night I found another one which will make five and I haven’t decided what to do with her.
Almost four weeks ago I had a little black hen get broody on me and she kept filling up nests with her body when I needed hens that were laying eggs in them. She is a bantam cross that was given to me by a couple that had to move to the city. She’s a good layer but of small eggs. I decided to “set” her on six eggs of my choice and size. I only felt comfortable putting six eggs under her because of her size and the size of the eggs I wanted hatched. I had no trouble putting her in the “setting room” of the main hen house and she diligently stayed on the nest.
Last Saturday she gave me four new little fluffs of down and she is a very fiesty mother. One egg wasn’t fertile of the six I put under her and the other little one just couldn’t get out of the shell quick enough. I will leave them in the “setting room” until this next round of cold rain moves through and then let Mom take them into the big girls quarters. I hope they’re all litle hens and no roosters in the bunch!!
I love babies of all kinds and have raised two kids of my own but I’ve also raised several orphan animals and thought I would share some pictures of them. It’s very gratifying finding them quick enough to get some warm food in them, warm blankets around them and a good warm bath no matter if they’re furbearing or feathered. Here’s some of my babes:
I can’t begin to tell you of all of the cats, dogs, fawns, squirrels, calves, rabbits, chicks and ducks I’ve hand raised but I can tell you everyone of them was worth the challenge!!
My chicken flock has grown this summer. Our hens are raising 16 young chicks and all are doing well at the moment. I have a couple more hens that want to set but it’s a little late in the season so I’ve penned them up to try to break the cycle.
Our chickens are free range and live off the farm most of the time. During the winter months I supplement their diet with scraps from the kitchen and occasionally some cracked corn. I make sure they have fresh water year round in the henhouse but they have access to a mountain spring when they’re out on the farm.
I have to keep a close watch on them from predators. We have lots of varmints that like to feast on fresh chicken.We had a fox that was catching the neighbors chickens about a 1/2 mile away and bringing them to her den under our barn to feed her kits. We started finding white chicken feathers and trailed her back to the neighbor.
We’ve had coons come to the hen house and take one a night two years ago. I went from 43 chickens to 17 before we caught him. My chickens were so traumatized they started roosting in the trees. We had an old hen house with lots of soft dirt around it that they (varmints) used to get in and drag the poor hens through the holes. We found two hens stuck in the holes and I was mad at the world for the suffering they went through before dying. Hubby dug a trench around the hen house, put up metal sheeting and filled in the trench with large gravel.
So far so good. I’m really amazed the coons, foxes, coyotes and hawks haven’t got some of mine since ours are free roam all over the farm and aren’t pinned up except at night. We should have plenty of eggs for the fall and winter leaving some to sell as well.
This is the summer of the broody hens! Back in May I posted that I was awaiting the arrival of my first hatch and it turned out quite well. My white hen hatched seven of eleven eggs and they were adorable. Which is more adorable, the chick or my granddaughter??? This little guy is now about 7″ tall and his mama left them on their own when they were four weeks old and went back to “sitting” again.
Mind you I’ve never had more than one broody hen in a given summer and this year I have four. Right after the first hatch one of my Rhode Island Reds decided to have some chicks too with no success after two tries. I’m thinking that the hens don’t care for John Henry very much or he has to many ladies to attend to. Anyway, another white hen “set” at the same time with a dozen eggs under her and hatched nine two weeks ago and they’re just as adorable as the first clutch. I got these eggs from a friend in Giles county and they Americauna (green egg layers). They’re doing well and mother is very protective of them. The third hen is due to hatch in one week and the first hen to hatch a few days after that. As my hubby would say “we’re going to chicken poor”. The big challenges to raising these babies is predators and the heat but I think we’ll be okay this year.
Little bittie’s arrived on Tuesday!! On Tuesday afternoon I made my normal trip to the chicken house to gather the eggs and distribute fresh water to my normal flock and check on the broody mama’s due to hatch on Wednesday. Well, was I surprised when I walked past the “bittie room” and Mom is sitting there with a little yellow chick peeping out from under her chest. I waited a few minutes and a black one with a white topknot and a brown striped peeked out too. Well buddy, I high-tailed it back to the house because this was going to be a Kodak moment!!!! Breathing heavily after running up the hill to the hen house, I tried as quietly as possible to walk in the “bitty room” without disturbing everyone. Well, I’m telling you, that mama hen must have thought I was the biggest, baddest varmint that ever set foot in that hen house. She bushed up and came at me like she was going to flogged the devil straight out of me BUT I stood my ground and she puffed back to the little ones and spread those wings and the little bittie’s were not to be seen. Not to be outdone, I waited and I guess she figured if I was going to bring her some worms, grain and fresh water I might not be too bad. After a little wait she finally decided to let four of the seven come out for me to see. They were/are adorable and very active and healthy. Imagine a 12 hour baby scratching the floor for food just like Mom. There were times they would scratch so hard they would tip themselves over.
I set Ms White Hen with 12 eggs (one fake) and she hatched out seven adorable little fluff balls. Two more made it out of the shells but didn’t live and two more didn’t make it out of the eggshell. I feel very fortunate to have the hatch as big as it was since this was her first try.
I’ll post on their growth as the spring and summer pass and remember I have another brood coming around the 21st of May and I hope she’s as good a mother as Ms White Hen is because she will be a first-time Mom too!! Isn’t this a great present for Mother’s Day!! I just love babies of all kinds. On another note, I gathered the eggs after the fun with the little ones and got eleven eggs that day including one green double yoke egg. I have one Americauna hen that lays green/blue eggs and she only lays every other day and it’s usually a double yoker. It was a good day!!!