Tag Archive | hens

Meet Saltie’s 6 Chicks

It’s been a busy summer here with our backyard chickens.  We’ve had a slew of chicks, we’ve had a skunk come in and kill chicks, we’ve had a friend give us a hen and 2 chicks and recently Saltie hatched 6 chicks out of 7 eggs….which during the broody processed ended up to be 10 eggs, 3 of which are in a borrowed incubator.  Also, we had one of Mamma Blackie’s chicks die from an unfortunate freak accident.

So, thats the low down on everything.  And now, meet Saltie’s chicks!

Originally when we started with chickens, we started with baby chicks which we had in the house under a heat lamp, like most folks do when they first start out.  So, our original 10 were the friendliest of all our chickens because they were human raised.  Mamma Reds, Goldie & Saltie are from those original 10.  They make the best moms and being the friendliest they teach the chicks to eat out of my hands, where the others don’t.  So, with Saltie this was a first for me, I actually lucked out and got to see one of her eggs pipped and videoed it.  In the video, the beginning is a little jumpy, sorry for that I was trying to focus my  phone in the dark henhouse, but make sure you have your sound on, the first chirping you hear are the 11 chicks running around outside, then if you listen you’ll hear Saltie in a very low soft cluck, talk to the chick in the egg and the chick responds.  Then you will be able to see the chicks little beak.  I was so excited to be able to see that, close up and personal.  Enjoy!

Salties egg pipping

Here’s a picture of the 4 eggs in the incubator.  I know I said she hatched 6 out of 7 and that she ended up with 10, but I never marked the 1st 7, so I didn’t know which one didn’t belong in the incubator.  I finally candled the eggs last night, 1 looks close to hatching and 2 look like they have a week or so to go and of course 1 needs to come out.  This is the 1st time I’m using an incubator so from what I’m told the outcome might not be good.  But at least there’s a chance.  The one that should hatch soon, if it does I will take it out and put it in with Saltie, I’m sure she’ll take care of it.  I will most likely do that with the other 2 should they hatch, unless someone goes broody in the meantime.

incubating

So here is how Mamma Reds chicks sleep at night.  Luckily my broody box is a triplex, I have the lid locked open and some of the chicks are roosting there, 1 has taken it upon itself to move to higher ground is is way high up on a little perch above the nest boxes!  If you remember back to my post I do Believe I have a Crazy Flock! Mamma Black was trying to move her very young chicks up to higher ground and they we’re not ready, so she moved herself up and tried sticking the chicks in with broody Mamma Reds. Eventually after Mamma Reds 7 chicks hatched she adopted Mamma Blacks 5 and Mamma Black moved back in with the flock.

 

So our flock count goes like this: 1 Rooster (Prince Charming). 12 hens and 19 chicks!  32 Total!  Wow!  And you know as well as I do, that most of those chicks are going to be roosters!  Take a look at the 2 I named Lucy and Ethel, now I believe its going to be Ricky & Fred… 😦  Look at the photos below (if you click on them you’ll see a bigger picture)  let me know your thoughts, roosters or hens??

By the way, Goldie has not been the same since the skunk incident (Sad Day in the Chicken Yard).  My poor girl.

I hope you enjoy my posts.  Please feel free to comment and tell me your stories with your backyard chickens.

 

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New Additions to Buddy’s Flock

Well, a new friend of ours, Bill, heard what happened to our 5 chicks (see Sad Day in the Chicken Yard) and he offered us one of his broody hens with chicks!  I thought it over for a couple days, tried to entice my gals to go broody by not picking eggs for 3 days, then decided to take Bill up on his offer.  Bill has a small yard and small chicken yard with at least 1 rooster & 12 hens (3 of whom we’re broody, 2 with chicks and 1 sitting on eggs, I wish mine would go broody like that) and he said he was willing to get rid of them because he felt he had to many.  So, late Monday night my hubby went over to Bills, and brought home a mama with 2 chicks.

We put her in the hen house on the floor in the corner where they all raise their chicks.  She settled in with the chicklets with a growl.

Next morning I went out early because I didn’t know how our flock was going to take to her, but really wasn’t worried to much, because you don’t mess with a mama hen.  I opened the door to the coop and my gals and Prince Charming came out, I looked in and mama and chicks were just fine.  I offered them a small bowl of starter feed and water and left them alone.   She kept them in the hen house all day, but walked them around and came close to the door.

New Mama & Chicks

This morning, Wednesday, she brought the chicklets out in the chicken yard!

Later today I went out to check on her & the whole flock was near her and Prince Charming giving her the once over.  You’ll see in the photos, Wuzzy, Prince Charmings favorite, was giving the new mama the stink eye, when she caught Prince Charming looking at her!

She’s a great mom, one of the babies got stuck and I retrieved her and mama was NOT happy that I was handling her chick and came at me.  She didn’t hurt me and all is well, she doesn’t know me yet, so its acceptable right now.  When we let the flock out to free range one of the cats followed my hubby and me into the chicken yard, mama hen was not happy and had the cat move on!

So, that’s the update on Buddy’s flock.  We now have 12 hens, 1 rooster & 2 chicks.  Stay tuned!

Killer Skunk!

and an ugly one at that!

 

The skunk has been caught and dealt with.  We will put out the trail cam again tonight and see if anything else is lurking about.

All the flock is doing well, hopefully egg production will now go back up.  Nothing like being terrorized to make egg production drop.

We thought we lost Goldie yesterday, we went to close up the flock for the night and usually the flock is in the coop on the roost ready, but last night, they weren’t, what was worse, they we’re acting out of the norm.  They weren’t acting like they were spooked or anything, they were extremely quite and still,  just hanging around together.  My hubby counted them (as we always do, especially after coming in from free range, Lillie sometimes lags behind) and noticed their were only 11, he counted again, as did I and then I did a quick scan of the flock and realized Goldie wasn’t there.   We checked the hen house, no Goldie, panic started to set it.

I was worried, I never got to check her over, knowing she lost some feathers trying to save her chick and was going to give her a good going over when they went in to roost.  We had seen her through out the day, in the morning she hung in the hen house mourning, then in the afternoon she hung with the flock.  When we let them out to free range she was right there with the flock every time we checked.  So, knowing she might have an injury or worse maybe died from an injury/stress/heart break or I thought, possibly she found a small nest of eggs somewhere(when they free range sometimes they get lazy about running back to the coop to lay and create a nest somewhere) and decided to sit on them.  We searched and searched and searched, no Goldie.  Every time we searched we went back to the chicken yard and counted, went into the hen house and looked, it was cloudy yesterday and the hen house isn’t lit so at dinner time it was a tad dark in there, but we checked every nest, looked high and low and no Goldie.

Well, we didn’t find her.

This morning when we went out to see if we caught our predator, my hubby let the chickens out of the hen house and there was Goldie!  My hubby says “There’s Goldie!” “Do you see her”  I said “Yes!” he said “Good, I thought it was a ghost!” LOL!  We still can’t figure out where she was in that hen house, but we both missed her and we both checked that hen house at least 3 times each.

Anyway, she’s here, she’s my best hen, so I’d hate to loose her.

Update on Goldie

Well, I just came back from the chicken yard.  I just let Prince Charming and the girls out to free range, while I let Goldie out of the broody box for her free time.  A broody needs to be off her nest at least once a day to eat, drink, poop and of course dust.  Goldie heads right towards her dusting spot every day and then to the water bowl and dips her feet while she drinks.  I think she’s multi tasking since she has just a short time off the nest.  Broody’s generally are off the nest no more than an hour, Goldie is usually back on the nest within a half an hour.  I also give her a handful of starter feed to get some vitamins into her.  While she’s off the nest I go in and collect eggs, so when she goes back into the coop, she doesn’t see other eggs and sit on them by mistake.  While I collecting the eggs, I took a look into her box and noticed that one of the eggs was broken open and there was a dead chick, still in the sack with a lot of yolk around it, 😦 so I’m assuming, possibly Goldie broke the egg??  So, I had to clean out the nest, when I did that I inspected the eggs and had to gently clean up a couple, I noticed that another egg was broke, so I got rid of that one and there is another that looks like its pipped but is also cracked, I did put that one back in the nest, not sure if that was the right thing to do or not, when my hubby gets home maybe we’ll make a decision to remove that egg.  So, at this point Goldie now has 6 good eggs.   The chicks are due to hatch on the 31st, I’ll let you know as zoon as that happens.

7 months old and still no feathers, but she is laying.

7 months old and still no feathers, but she is laying.

Also, an update on Fuzzy, Fuzzy is a rooster!  LOL!  His comb is now very big and he crows, that’s how we know he’s a roo the crowing.  He is still downy and limps but getting around just fine and his crow is still developing, but not too bad.

Meet Prince Charming & Fluffy

Yeah, Yeah, I know, Fluffy is generally used as a cats name….well, LQQK at her/him!  I’m calling Fluffy a her for now until proved otherwise.  Look at little Fluffy, she is now 3 1/2 months old, she hatched on November 18th.  She is the only chick left all the others we’re taken by hawks 😦  anyway, she’s doing very well, except she’s still mostly covered in downy feathers rather than being full feathered, which she should be by this age.  NO, she does not have any silkie in her!  I’m just thinking it had to do with the extreme cold this winter, if the other chicks had made it to go through the winter with her we would have had something to go by, but now its just speculation.

Meet Prince Charming, isn’t he just so handsome?? He’s our up coming rooster in training.  Buddy is still the hierarchy of the flock.  Remember last spring poor Buddy took a beating from Reds.  I’ve learned allot since that battle of the roosters for hierarchy.  I’ve learned, that I shouldn’t have re-homed Reds, I should have re-homed Buddy.  It was too hard though, I truly love my Buddy.  But, Buddy hasn’t been the same since.  I took control of that situation and put Buddy back in the patriarch position, which he had undeniably lost.  He’s still a great rooster and does all his roostering chores, but just not to the level he use to.  If you didn’t read my post on that you can get caught up here: I Just Can’t Believe It

This spring, now that we know the signs, we will keep a better eye on the guys and when it looks like Prince Charming is going to challenge Buddy, we will just re-home Buddy at that time.  We like have 2 roosters with all the predators we have around here.  The flock hasn’t been able to free range all winter, we did make the run larger to compensate for the lack of free roaming, but you know, its just not the same.  And we had to totally enclose the run this year, the hawks were just too many and too determined this year.  I truly can’t wait for the crows to come back.  Why? you ask am I waiting for crows to come back?? You can read about that here on the Common Crow, but long story short, they help big time in keeping the hawks away.  So, until the crows return we only free range under our watchful eyes.

This spring I’m planning on adding Jersey Giants to the flock.  They’re a bigger chicken, hoping that will deter the hawks a little.  I’m not sure weather I’m going to get chicks or hatching eggs.  I’m leaning towards hatching eggs, but I don’t have an incubator, would like t get one, but would rather a hen go broody and just put the eggs under her.

What are your plans with your flock this year?? Getting any chicks?? Adding a different breed??  Are you discouraged due to predators? Lets talk!

Terror in the Chicken Yard!

Eb and Prince CharmingGirls in the alleyLacey and CalNew blockOwl overlookPrince Carming
Roos and hensrustyYardfull of roos

Too many Roosters, a set on Flickr.

The past few weeks here have been horrible! Our chickens have been terrorized daily by Red Tail Hawks and Sharp Shinned Hawks. We’ve lost 5 out of 6 baby chicks to them. See, I told you, its been horrible. The chicks squeeze through the fence, we added additional smaller fence, they still managed to get out, one time though the hawk got in, we have fishing line strung across the yard, which has worked for the past 2 years, but not this year. So, we added netting. There are just so many hawks and looks like their food is getting low and of course chickens are an easy meal. We haven’t seen any rabbits around any more nor do we see any ground hogs, we use to be loaded with both. One morning I went out to let the chickens open the hen house and a Red Tail was sitting in a tree by the chicken yard eyeing my cat! Anyway, we’ve now added fabric block to the lower fence area, which will help block wind for the girls too. Our plastic owl that we move around the yard regularly isn’t doing his job either.
So, how’s your flock this winter?? Any problems with predators? What are you doing to keep predators away?? Our girls won’t even free range, my hubby opens the gate and they stay in. In the photos you can see some of my girls in the little alley way between the hen house and the shed, its fenced in with the chicken yard, they hang in there allot anymore, and of course they’re staying in the hen house allot.  I have to tell you, I’m very close to giving up on having backyard chickens.  If the new netting and fabric doesn’t work and the terror continues, I will have to rehome them all.  They’re not laying hardly at all, I know some hens are old and hardly laying, and with winter they’ve cut back, but we’re only getting 4 eggs a day out of 16 layers??
Back in July I posted about Goldie going broody and added a link for choosing the right eggs to produce females or cockerels, well as stated in that post I tried to hand pick my eggs(Finally, We Have a Broody Hen). The results are in, it doesn’t work! Out of 2 broods of chicks, 11 chicks total I think we have 6 roosters! So this weekend we will be rehoming some of them as well as a couple of our older hens and Buddy.
Buddy hasn’t been the same since Reds and Buddy had their big rooster challenge, where Buddy lost. If you read my post I Just Can’t Believe It!, followed by Update on Buddy, then Everythings Back to Normal in Buddy’s Flock, the new normal for Buddy isn’t the same. He’s not the Buddy he was before the challenge. He doesn’t take care of the hens the way he use to, he doesn’t let them eat first, he doesn’t stand his ground with predators, he’s actually the first one back to the hen house. He does alert, but he’s just not the man he use to be. So he will be rehomed and one of the young roos will have to take over. We are going to rehome a few of the new roos but I will keep probably 3 for the time being. I will keep Prince Charming, Eb and either Rusty or Cal, haven’t decided yet, so stay tuned.

Geez! Already!

Dottie and chicksDottie n chicks 1st day outGoldie n chicks

Free ranging the chicks, a set on Flickr. You can click on the photos to see them larger.

Well, I just can’t believe it, but every hen is different and Dottie is no exception to the rule.  The chicks were 1 week old yesterday and she took them from the confines & protection of the chicken yard outside the fence to the side of the  chicken yard where we have a row of pine tress.  So, the chicks are learning to free range.  Now we have to be ever more vigilant.

Hawks are definitely around, we’ve heard them, we’ve seen them.  The crows have left.  What, you ask, do crows and hawks have to do with one another???  I read way back when we first had hawks and wanted to find out how to deter them, it said, that if there are crows around you won’t have hawks.  And for us, that’s true.  While we have nesting crows here in the spring and they hang around thru July early August, we truly don’t see any hawks.  Now that the crows are leaving, the days we don’t hear any crows, we hear and see hawks.   You can read about that here on the Common Crow.

Well, a couple weeks ago, I posted that Goldie took her 5 chicks out to free range at 11 days old, now Dottie’s 6 chicks are only a week old!  They never cease to amaze me.

Another thing going on, is Dottie has decided to leave the broody box with the chicks and take up sleeping in the same corner that Goldie and her chicks are sleeping in.  There’s plenty of room and as long as the moms are butt to butt theres no problems.  If they can see each other, especially Dottie, if she even sees one of Goldie’s chicks on her back she pecks the chick, then pecks Goldie, then Goldie pecks Dottie.   The 2 nights I’ve seen this happen, I’ve grabbed Dottie and put her back in her broody box and put the chicks in with her.  Last night after I did this (it was still early, my moms take their chicks to bed about 5:30, so theres plenty of daylight yet) Dottie took the chicks back out.  I rolled my eyes, thinking more trouble coming in the hen house, just a few minutes later, she was back in the hen house, so I followed.  To my surprise, she took the chicks back into the broody box! Yeah!

Goldie & ChicksShared CornerMama Hens & ChicksDottie with chicksGoldie with chicksSo cute

Mama hens not sharing, a set on Flickr.

It won’t be long before Goldie moves her chicks up to the nests where the hens lay.  We have an old metal 12 nest unit from the old chicken farmer days.  It’s on the wall and safe.  All our broody’s move their chicks up there and sleep with them in the nests until the mom leaves the chicks.  Then the chicks stay in the nests and perch on the perches on front of the nests until they are old enough to work their way into the roosts with the other hens.  You know how that pecking order goes.  It takes a while.  Goldie tries about once a week to see if the chicks can get up there.  It should be any day now, I think they’re ready.

So how ’bout you??  Do you let your mama hens free range with their chicks??  We have decided that when the moms leave their chicks we will this time, take control and confine the chicks to the safety chicken yard, until their bigger, way bigger.