From 50+ hens to 18 in one summer/fall season is not a good thing on the farm.
Each spring I add days old chicks to the farm livestock. This year we added five each of ISA browns, Rhode Island reds, black Australorps and Americaunas. They grew out beautiful and very healthy. My spring chicks grow out in five to six months and start laying when my older hens get the time off for molting and recharging.
After the brooder box they’re moved to the Little Red Barn where they can interact with the older chickens for a few weeks and then they’re moved into the big house.
This summer after all of the ladies and rooster were together and free ranging the farm an unwelcome beast invaded the territory. He seemed to come on rainy overcast days when we weren’t somewhere out of doors and his first visit took out nine hens in one day. Our dogs tend to stay in their houses when it rains and they were not aware of what was going on. I found the dead hens laying in several places from the barnyard to the cemetery on the hill. The next day he got four more and so on and so on. We caught him out on several occasions but only got some shots off and no kills. We’re convinced that she was probably feeding her young and that’s why she got so many at one time. The following photo I pulled from the internet will give you an idea of the family she must feed . . .
BUT not my hens!!!!
We’ve not had a visit from her lately but my hens (only 18 remain, nine old and nine pullets) have learned to stay near cover that she can’t get into.
My young girls have started laying, two per day so far, and I only had to buy eggs from the local grocer three times. Store bought eggs are definitely different from my free range eggs.
Spring 2021 will be filled with around 25-30 young chicks, five Pekin ducks and 3-5 turkeys. I bake so much and love those duck eggs to make my bread, cakes, pies and cookies. My egg customers are begging for eggs and I hope to fill those orders by January 2021, when all nine of the young hens will be rolling out those perfect eggs.