Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The annual moult

I ordered another dozen fertile Barnevelder chook eggs from a local breeder with the hope of hatching a second batch of chicks before summer is over, but received a message over the weekend saying that her hens had gone into an early moult and stopped laying. Apparently other local breeders are saying the same thing. So no more eggs for at least a month, by which time it is too cold in Tasmania to think about raising chicks. My own two Barnevelder hens stopped laying more than a week ago and the two black Australorp girls (see one of them below) have slowed down to just one egg every few days. It's usually due to weather patterns... but I'm not exactly sure what it is this year that has caused an early start to the annual moult.

In anticipation of collecting the dozen eggs from the breeder, I had also collected a kind donation of nine extra eggs from a friend down the road. Not wanting to waste them, I have set them in the incubator over the weekend and we now start the egg-turning routine again in the hope of boosting our little flock. We are down to only two eggs for eating and it looks like we will have to BUY eggs again soon. Shocking! But I guess the hens deserve a rest while they grow new feathers for winter. Meanwhile, the chicks hatched in January are now five weeks old and at the "ugly teenager" phase - weird bald heads with tiny combs emerging, long gangling legs and feathers sprouting all over. We'll transfer them from the garage to the outdoor chook tractor soon.

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