Summer arrived suddenly this week. We got a couple weeks of spring weather, and then on to summer weather. So it has been hot…for us. It is all about perspective when it comes to weather and temperatures. 🙂
We had a lot of work this week moving the chickens around and sorting them out and deciding who stays and who goes.
We now have the older hens and the young pullets that we want to keep in our flock all together in the upper coop. We removed the rooster because we are not breeding right now and we want to give the flock a break from his affection, so he is in one of the rooster pens. We did leave the two younger Dark Brahma cockerels that we are considering for breeding roos in with all the ladies though. It will still be a little while before they start trying to breed the hens.
We sold and butchered all the young pullets and cockerels that we didn’t want to keep for our flock.
The bantams are back down in the lower coop, along with Alice, and a 14-week-old pullet I was calling Black Beard (I know, not a feminine name, but she has a black beard, so it just worked). Mtn Man and the kids have named her Cally, so I am working on changing it over in my head.
Black beard was the only 14-week-old we wanted to keep and we could not get her to integrate with the older birds since she was a single addition to an established flock. Alice, had been removed from the group of older hens, along with Batina, a few months ago because their backs were so torn up from the rooster and they needed to heal. They both healed up nicely, and we put them back in with the group last week. Everything seemed fine as they settled back in with the flock that they already knew. But then, one day this week Mtn Man looked into the barnyard and found the flock chasing and pecking Batina to death. He went in to save her, but it was too late. They then turned on Alice too. So we took Alice out and decided to see if she could live happily with the bantam hens since they had space in their coop.
She has settled in fine with them.
We have integrated hundreds of chickens with each other over the last 6 years of our breeding program and we have never had them kill one before. We followed all of our usual integration techniques as well. It was very upsetting and we are not sure exactly what caused the issue. But it seems like all the chickens are now settled into their new flocks and living situations.
It feels really good to have the chickens sorted and organized. We had way too many this year with our very successful hatch and it has been a tough job juggling them all around and trying to keep housing suitable. Now we can check that off the list and move forward with our basic chicken housing situations and the regular numbers of birds.
We also had a lot of naked spots on the birds both from rooster breeding and from feather picking in the younger groups that were crowded. So we are trying out “Peck No More” lotion. We applied it to all the bare spots on all the birds. It thoroughly dyed their skin purple, which looks a little crazy. Hopefully it will work and in a month or so we will have a fully feathered flock again.
Getting the chickens organized and downsized meant that Fergus could have his stall in the barn back. We are going to build him a new hay rack for in there this week.
All this moving of pens also meant that we were able to set up the creep feeder in one of the jugs so that the lambs can eat alfalfa and grain without their moms getting to it. We just open the door to the jug enough so that the lambs can fit through but not the ewes and we screw a board to it on the top and bottom to hold it in place.