Tag Archives: hens

Culling Chickens

Our chicken population exploded over the summer with chicks I hatched, chickens given to us by friends that decided they shouldn’t have them and chicks my hens hatched.  My last total was 52 which included three roosters and the hen-house had to be cleaned out weekly instead of monthly because of the ammonia smell.  I had about 20 hens that have quit laying eggs but stayed in the hen-house all day on the roost.

This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.

This is a 2013 photo but I have some chickens that are over seven years old.

Last week we chose a new location for a chicken house that won’t be too expensive to remodel and we’ll burn down the old chicken house once the chickens are moved.  This is the new location:

Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.

Tractor shed attached to smokehouse.

Future home of new chicken house

Future home of new chicken house

This building is not any closer to the house but I won’t have to climb an icy hill now in the winter time.  I had one too many falls on the ice last winter.  The tractor will be moved to the stable which has been cleaned out and has more room for equipment now and most of the equipment will be stored in the same location instead of all over the farm.  This is a large building and the back 1/3 will be blocked off for a storage room for feed, garden tools and maybe our tillers.  The garden is on the back side of this building. More about this later.

To prepare for this move I have culled 18 of my old hens and gave them to a family in the county that can use the hens for meat or for “setting hens” in the spring.  My bantam rooster Barney went with this group because I don’t especially want small eggs and I’m trying to bring in hens that will lay larger eggs.  I lost a few chickens to hawks and old age during the early fall.

Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he's a giant!

Barney is a bantam cross rooster and very small but thinks he’s a giant!

Since I have three hens that like to go broody in the spring this should provide me with some new hens next summer that lay large brown eggs.  I really like my Red River roosters  and Red River’s produce the eggs we want.

This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred.  Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.

This is one of my Red River roosters named Fred. Fred had some red and brown mottled through his feathers.

My Red River rooster named "Rooster".  He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.

My Red River rooster named “Rooster”. He is white with just a hint of yellow through his feathers.

With my new hens and some of my older large hens I should have lots of brown, pink, green and blue eggs to sale next summer.

Fresh eggs (1)

The hens have all got their feathers back from molting just in time for the cold weather and some have started laying again.  I’m now getting 8-10 eggs instead of the 20-30 and my buyers are screaming for eggs.  The molting and colder weather will keep production down because I don’t keep lights in the hen-house and most of my hens are cold hardy including the Americaunas.

The red with white tell feathers are the new hens and they're laying now.

The red with white tail feathers are the new hens and they’re laying now.  They started laying at six months and these are my youngest hens.

We now have 31 total and that’s a plenty for what we need.  I just need to cull more often to keep good egg production.  This woman tends to get attached to all the animals on the farm no matter their age or productivity.

 

Roosters

I just went to feed the chickens and collect the eggs and laughed until I cried watching my crazy roosters.  Barney is the oldest but smallest of my rooster flock and each morning when we open the hen-house, he flies up on the brooder box outside of the henhouse and crows to prove he is master of the flock.  We’re not sure what breed he is but he runs off the other two roosters as soon as he’s out of the hen-house.

Bantam Barney was given to us by a friend along with about 15 hens.Bantam Barney was given to us by a friend along with about 15 hens.

This is "Rooster" and raised this summer.

This is “Rooster” and raised this summer.

This is Fred and also raised this summer.  Fred has a little more color in his feathers.

This is Fred and raised this summer. Fred has a little more color in his feathers.

Rooster and Fred were purchased and raised from chicks in the spring and their breed is new and called Red Rivers.  They’re really big chickens and I’m hoping to have some new chicks brooded from them in the spring.

Barney is half the size of the new roosters.

Barney is half the size of the new roosters.

Barney proves on a daily basis that he is king of the flock which includes about 47 hens.

Barney proves on a daily basis that he is king of the flock which includes about 47 hens.

More baby chicks

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.

Due to hatch on June 8th.  Set with 11 eggs.

Due to hatch on June 8th. Set with 11 eggs.

Yellow chick will be white when full grown.

Yellow chick peeping out from under mom will be white when full grown.

Four little ones make it out of the shells.

Four little ones make it out of the shells.

Yellow, black, dark brown, cream.  Truly Easter chicks!

Yellow, black, dark brown, cream. Truly Easter chicks!

 

This red hen is due to hatch on the 26th.

Little red hen; she's really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

Little red hen; she’s really not so little and lays beautiful brown eggs.

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!!

White speckled hen

White speckled hen

Americana hen

Americana hen

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.

Bitties are growing

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.DSCN5117

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Crow and her month old bitties.

Crow and her month old bitties.

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Free ranging with mom.

Free ranging with mom.

 

In about 10 more days, we’ll have another hatch by this lady.

Black Americana hen that was born last year.  She has 10 eggs under her and we're hoping for a larger hatch than Crow had.

Black Americana hen that was born last year. She has 10 eggs under her and we’re hoping for a larger hatch than Crow had.

Updates later and watching for the next broody mother.

The farm has been quite busy for the last three weeks

The farm is always busy but the last three weeks have been quite busy.  My chickens had almost completely quit laying but now the eggs are pouring out of them.  We’re getting 18-22 eggs a day and two of my ladies are starting to show broody signs.  It’s just too cold to set these ladies yet so I think I’ll give them until the first weekend in April to put eggs of my choice under them.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

 

I had thought about buying some babies in mid-April or May but then decided if I’ve got broody hens that won’t give me eggs, I’ll put them to work hatching me some new layers.

Then maple syrup season came on us and last weekend we made 45 pints of the golden nectar.  The weather was such a hit and miss thing that we didn’t invite a lot of people to join us but our daughter had some of her clients come in to see the process.  It was very, very windy the day of the cook-off.

210 gallon tank for sap storage

210 gallon tank for sap storage

Gallon stainless steel bucket used to strain sap into tank.

Gallon stainless steel bucket used to strain sap into tank.

Trees tapped

Trees tapped

Shawn & Heather keep watch on the pan.

Shawn & Heather keep watch on the pan.

 

Sugar house steaming.

Sugar house steaming.

 

2014 Golden nectar

 

AND, the babies are arriving and they are so adorable.  The calves seem a little on the small size this year but that’s fine.  They grow so fast and smaller calves are definitely easier on the mothers.  Here’s a few of our recent arrivals:

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And of course, keeping the driveway clear of ice and snow and feeding the cattle has been a chore, not to mention keeping firewood on the front porch to feed the stoves.

Ice on top of snow

Ice on top of snow

 

You just can't be a good wood fire with the winter we've had.

You just can’t be a good wood fire with the winter we’ve had.

 

Stay well,  Stay warm.
Rita

 

 

The 2013 Chicks are Growing

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.

Miss Black Hen and her little ones

Miss Black Hen and her little ones

 

These little guys grew up fast and there was one hen and three roosters.  I don’t like this ratio!!  Notice the tall combs on the gray and the back red one.  My little hen is on the right of this group.DSCN4186
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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.

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One day old chicks sticking close to Mom.IMG_0003

06282013 chicks (5)

 

From little bitties to these youngsters.

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The little girls like to stay close to Mom at night and they gather under and around her in the nesting boxes.

The little girls like to stay close to Mom at night and they gather under and around her in the nesting boxes.

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Mom, it's time to go out!!

This Mom has eight and the other one has five. 

 

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.

Three broody hens

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.

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06282013 chicks (1)

 

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.

2nd hen hatching

2nd hen hatching

 

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.

I know one is hatched because I can see the broken shell right in front of her.

I know one is hatched because I can see the broken shell right in front of her.

More updates and pictures will be revealed in the coming days.  Aren’t they adorable!!

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These are their amorous and proud daddie, Elvis and Romeo!!

Elvis

Elvis

 

Romeo

Romeo

 

Back in a few days with updates!! 😉

 

 

 

Hens & Rooster

I think everyone knows I work full time and want so much to be home on the farm full time.  I know my time will come soon and in the meantime I cherish every minute I can get outside.  Since I’ve had the “crud” (what hubby calls congestion), I haven’t been able to go out for fear of getting pneumonia which I’m prone to.  BUT, one afternoon this week I went to the henhouse to talk to the girls and see how everything was going.

Hubby has been taking care of them for me and making sure they have plenty of feed and water and gathering the eggs. He is so good too me!!   Man was I shockedwhen I walked into the henhouse!!  Their roost needs a major cleaning underneath and  someone has been sleeping in the nests at night.  I know now why the eggs needed extra care at cleaning each evening before going in the cartons.

Hens greeting me as I enter the henhouse.

Hens greeting me as I enter the henhouse.

I’m so hoping this weekend proves to be a little warmer and sunny so I can get out for an hour or so.  I have a door under the roost on the back of the henhouse for cleaning and it doesn’t take long to clean it out.  My walnut and pecan trees will get some good fertilizer from that as well as the rhubarb patch.  The nesting material will have to come out and be replaced and I’ll have to time it just right so as not to interrupt any laying that may occur.

Elvis fussing at me for disturbing his time with the girls.

Elvis fussing at me for disturbing his time with the girls.

Nesting boxes that need a good cleaning.

Nesting boxes that need a good cleaning.

My girls have been doing quite well the last two weeks and I’m getting 12-16 eggs a day.  The neighbors are real happy the “Fresh Eggs for Sale” sign is back up and hubby is tickled he’s getting fresh pound cakes again.

Fresh eggs straight from the henhouse but they need cleaning.

Fresh eggs straight from the henhouse but they need cleaning.

      I love my weekends on the farm!!

Hen house watch

First hatch at three months old

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.

Update on little bitties!

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.