Here is a picture from this week with the setup of our layers. We have them protected by electrified netting from http://www.premier1supplies.com/ and a coop that we built here at the farm. The ladies put themselves up at night on one of the 4 roost poles in the little 6’x6′ coop.
Well, the ladies have been laying for a month or so now and we’ve transitioned from having them free around the house to being in electrified netting (from Premiere1 fencing). After a couple of weeks I realized that the construction of the nest boxes was not going to work long term. The nest box was too shallow and the chickens were scratching out the straw and sometimes the eggs into the coop. A lot of the eggs were cracked since they were laying directly onto the wood floor. Yesterday we were able to add about 4.5 inches to the bottom of the coop! We’ll see going forward how well this adjustment works.
We now have Black Australorp chickens! We currently have 9 hens and a Barred Rock rooster (Rocky) and they have just started laying. The Black Australorps are beautiful with their feathers so black and they have a green tint to them when the sun shines off of them. We built a chicken shed that was originally planned to sit on a small trailer, but the small trailer was not stable enough, so we moved the shed to a regular wagon running gear. The setup has a slant roof that pours rainwater into a gutter that funnels it into a five gallon bucket that gravity feeds the waterer. It also has shade / hawk cover and a dog feeder attached to keep the pyrenees close by. The range feeder is on the ground behind the wagon. It can be moved by hand on relatively level ground, and the 4 wheeler helps out when it’s heading uphill. We got two little eggs yesterday!
During the moving process, our last laying hen, a Rhode Island Red, “Red”, as she was affectionately called by our neighbor, was taken by a predator. She was over three years old and was still producing an egg a week. Yes this would be considered a “welfare” chicken, not producing as much as she was consuming, but she was a lot of fun to watch!
Well, Buffy (our Buff Orpington) went broody on us a couple of weeks ago. Broody is when the chicken wants to sit eggs to hatch them. We don’t have a rooster, so the eggs are never going to hatch, but she was sitting on them anyway. We started kicking her out of the nest and closing off the nest box and after a couple of days she got over it and started acting normal again. She didn’t lay an egg for a little over two weeks. I had a talk with her about those who don’t work end up in the slow-cooker and she seemed to straighten up and is now back in production 🙂
We started off the new year with new animals! I worked a deal with CJ Sentell of Ecotone Farm and purchased four laying hens. We now have two Barred Rocks (not Domineckers), one Rhode Island Red and one Buff Orpington. They are providing us with eggs and we’re all learning each other, chickens learning us and us learning the chickens. I got the coop built at the end of last year and now it is finally occupied. There will be some modificaitions coming to make things a bit easier, but it all works well for now. Hopefully we’ll have pictures up soon.