Tag Archives: pullets

Fox In the Hen House

From 50+ hens to 18 in one summer/fall season is not a good thing on the farm.

This is few of my hens.
Young chicks added to flock in 2020.

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.

Brooder box begins as a small tote for first week and then moved into a huge galvanized that is also 24 inches tall.
Little Red Barn is the next living quarters for the young.
Then the girls move in with their elders.

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 . . .

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Vixen with five cubs Stock Photo - Alamy

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.

Time for New Stock

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! 😉

Old girls are the pick of the crop!!

Old girls are the pick of the crop!!

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.

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New chooks from Tucker (3)

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.

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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.

Brooder box holds 12-15 chicks until they're about 6-8 weeks old.  Then they're moved to  the big crate on stilts.

Brooder box holds 12-15 chicks until they’re about 6-8 weeks old. Then they’re moved to the big crate on stilts.

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.

Three little hens.

Three little hens.

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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.

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