Friday, May 18, 2012

New girls on the block

Meet one-year-old chooks Chicken Patty and Chicken Parma, who recently joined our tiny flock. It's a blurry photo taken inside the shed, but they've hardly been out of the shed since their arrival so it's hard to nab a nice outdoor shot.

Introducing new birds to a flock is actually quite a risky gamble (see here if you want to know why - in great detail), but seeing as I didn't buy enough pullets first up (tip for beginners) I can't see another way around it than to introduce at least two more grown birds at a time. We did try to hatch some fertile eggs under a broody hen who lost interest after a week, then in an incubator without success, and none of the girls are laying at the moment. Our hen-to-rooster ratio is still way too low, but better than it was last week.

So how did the introduction go? After bringing the new girls home, they lived in the broody nesting box inside the chook shed for a few days. That way, they were kept separate from the existing flock but they could see each other. Then last Thursday night after dark we lifted them out and popped them on a perch to sleep for the night. When I went down to the chook shed early the next morning, there was lots of cooing and eyeing each other off suspiciously, but no pecking. Everyone was eating and drinking. A couple of hours later I let them out to range. Boss-hen Chicken Teriyaki (who was first to moult recently but has now re-grown her beautiful dark feathers) started chasing the new girls until they hid under some bushes. But still, not too much violence. Came back a few hours later and all of them were sensibly back inside the shed, as it was windy and raining. The new girls have hardly been out of the shed, but when they are all inside, there is relative peace in chookland. At nightfall, Russell the Rooster unceremoniously dumps his old harem to cuddle up to the two new girls on their chosen perch.

P.S. While I'm on the topic of poultry, I was so happy to read today that the Tasmanian government has decided to ban hens in battery cages and start phasing out pigs kept in sow stalls.

One of the new girls showing her pretty feathers in the sun

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