There’s a New Rooster in Town

Squatter

Ever since we got rid of the roosters I noticed the hens starting a new pecking order, arguing with each other and jockeying for the best position on the roosts every night. Of course I THOUGHT I was top hen now. Every time I walked into the coop or run they’d stampede up to greet me! I was wrong! There’s a new Rooster in the Hen house and he’s the man I married! This just started, but every time my hubby reaches down to the girls, they stop acting like proper ladies! He starts to pet them on their backs, they squat down, then if he gets to really scratching they stick their butts in the air and start purring!  Okay, so they do this with me a little too, but they absolutely LOVE him.

I found out this squatting is a sign that they are ready to start breeding and start laying eggs! That means any day now!

Enjoy this video of the ladies squatting on their YouTube Channel:

 

Unveiling of the Nesting Boxes

nesting boxes open

The chickens are getting so big! When the vet was visiting she commented on how big and healthy they are looking. Only one thing missing! Eggs!

Someone online recommended keeping the nesting boxes closed until the chickens got old enough to use them. It took the chicks long enough to figure out the roosting bars and I guess having the nesting boxes open would just give them an option to sleep in them.We don’t want that! We want those boxes super clean for super clean eggs! They are going to be 5 months old next week and they say chickens start lay eggs between 5 and 6 months. Now that the ladies have roosting down to a science, I decided it was time to open the nesting boxes!

I started by tearing down the cardboard we covered them with and cleaned the dust out of them. I haven’t complained to about this to you yet but chickens create a LOT of NASTY dust. You can clean every surface and within 2 days it has another thick layer of heavy dust.

Next I put shelf liner in the bottom. Since the boxes are wood, I wanted to make the base easy to clean. Like the linoleum I put on the floor.nest box liner Then I put some straw on top as soft bedding for the egg.

Since my herb garden hasn’t produced enough herbs for drying yet, I bought a batch specifically for nesting boxes. Not only does it smell good, it also repels insects and the chickens can eat them as snacks too!

nest box herbs

Finally, I bought a very expensive teaching tool……Fake Eggs!  Sound funny? I thought so. These fake eggs look exactly like regular eggs, including weighing the same. How does this work? Apparently you leave them in the nesting boxes and the chickens figure out “Oh! This is where these things go!” I couldn’t help myself. I had to hold one out so the chickens could take a look at it. Unfortunately they tried to peck it open! Now I’m getting worried. Does this mean I’m going to have the dreaded chickens who eat their own eggs? I’ve read about it and I heard when one chicken starts, the others decide it’s a great idea too! Ugh…another thing to worry about! I decided to leave a few sitting out for them to inspect for awhile. Hopefully they will get bored of them and not care so much when they drop one and I carry it away. Here’s crossing my fingers!

Fake eggsWhen I let the chickens back into the coop after unveiling the nesting boxes I got nothing. They glanced in and walked away. There is no interest to investigate at all. I even picked up a couple chickens and put them in a box, but they immediately jumped back out. Oh well…..just like the roosting bars, I guess it will take a little time for the instincts to kick in. Now it’s just a waiting game. As my chicken daddy likes to say….”stop being a bunch of freeloaders and get to laying!”

If you want to see the video of the unveiling of nesting boxes, check out What the Flock’s YouTube Channel:

 

 

 

 

 

RIP Little Miss Peeps

Little Miss Peeps

It was a tough week. My mother has been in the hospital and the doctors have been challenged on what exactly is going on with her.

As I escaped into my flock to bring me a little peace and laughter I noticed Little Ms. Peeps hanging around at my feet. I found her the morning before sleeping in the poop tray laying under the other chickens. She is always getting pecked by the other hens.

It suddenly dawned on me……the chickens will be laying eggs soon and I have a special chicken with a medical problem and don’t know how laying eggs will impact her. I decided it was time to have Ms. Peeps looked at by a professional. I started looking for a vet who would work with chickens and I could not believe how hard it was. Pet vets don’t deal with chickens and farm vets only deal with livestock. I finally reached a receptionist at a farm vet  who told me about a mobile vet who worked with chickens. I researched her and she was a perfect match for us. She was educated and specialized in wild birds, having also done wild bird rescue and she has her own chickens. We also have one thing in common. Her focus is doing the right thing for the animals.

The vet was the best! She picked up Peeps who immediately took to her. After her exam she had bad news. Little Miss Peeps had a bone disease that caused micro-fractures to occur with any significant impact. She was probably in pain. The reason her body was smaller than the other chickens is her body was using all it’s nutrients fixing her fractures. I was devastated, but knew in advance we might find something that would lead us to let her go to the golden roosting bar in the sky.

Rest in peace Little Miss Peeps, we are going to miss your strange little antics.

A Tale of 5 Roosters

The white ones

When we mail ordered our chicks we ordered 30 of them. 12 Buff Orpington, 12 Black Australorp and 6 Araucana hens. What I noticed on my order form is there was a FREE MYSTERY CHICK with every 25 or more order. I also read that while they will try their hardest to give you hens versus roosters, a rooster may show up due to the difficulty of detecting the sex of day old chicks.  As a matter of fact do you know they have a high paid position for a talented person who can tell the sex of 98% of the chicks? Can you imagine having that job? Every day, blowing on little chicks butts to see what junk they have. After handling chicks, I can definitely see how tough it would be!

What I DIDN”T read in fine print at the bottom is that they reserve the right to add extra chicks to the box as packing material for the safety of the birds through shipment. Huh? When did I figure that out? About the time we pulled 35 chicks out of the box. We talked about the freebie birds and I swore to the hubby that they should all be hens because I checked the HENS box, NOT the Rooster box. They wouldn’t dare send me 5 roosters! Wellll…….I was wrong.

We could tell 4 of the chicks were something I hadn’t ordered. They were bright yellow which meant they were going to be white. After 6 weeks we started to suspect that not only did we have 4 white birds we didn’t order, but they started to get obnoxious. They pecked everyone, they jumped on us, and they were loud. That should have been the first clue. Then the crowing started. 2 of the white ones were at it. But then something unexpected happened. The mystery chick we got, a checkered Barred Rock, started to crow as well. That was the beginning of the end. It was non-stop drama!

We decided to give away the 4 white roosters to a nice family who just bought a farm. Then there was 1!

The Barred Rock was a very nice rooster. He was very cooperative, ate from my hands, came running to me when I came into the run. Everything seemed to be working out great. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. Mr. Barred started getting a little big headed with the white roosters out of the way. The poor girls didn’t see it coming! He’d grab a hen from the back of the neck and then jump on her! “SQWAUK! Ohhhhh…….they were not happy. Now it was a different kind of chaos!  Poor girls!

Barred Rock

Back on to craigslist we found a guy who loved the picture of Mr. Rooster. Apparently his hens had an issue with their rooster. He was found dead underneath the bird feeder! Yikes! We advertised Mr. Barred to be docile which he generally was. The guy asked “so how docile is your rooster?”. We opened the box and he was huddled in a corner just staring at us. “Yup…..that’s pretty docile alright!”  Gosh, I hope he doesn’t turn into a puddle with these new hens! Ahhh….but he’s going to love it. He’s going to be free range! No boundries! Just like the white boys got.

So that’s my tale of 5 roosters……and then there was none! The boys got great new places to live, and our hens? Well……they are much more friendly with us now! They are letting us pet them a lot more and not pecking nearly as much. It’s a win win for everyone!