Category Archives: Chickens

Pop’s new clothes

It is some weeks since I pictured Pop, one of our Rhode Island Reds, looking a bit shabby as she started moulting. Thankfully, most of our eight girls are now coming through their moult, with a just a couple with a few feathers still developing. In keeping with the Englishman’s inherent support for the underdog, Pop has always been my favourite – she was the smallest, at the bottom of the pecking order, and somehow not the finest of specimens, even though I got to choose which birds to take from a good selection, but has a great personality. Now, though, she has grown into a good sized bird, no longer appears to be at the bottom of the pecking order, and her new feathers are looking great – sporting that deep, rich mahogany red colour that the Rhode Island Red is named for. Thankfully, none of our girls opted for the oven ready look and seem to have come through the moult with the minimum of bother. Continue reading

Is it worth keeping chickens?

One might well be tempted to ask this question at 6:00am on a cold, rainy day when the chickens need feeding and letting out of the coop, but generally I do not really think about it. In terms of feed costs, the eggs, which are of really superb quality, are certainly cheaper than supermarket offerings. However, the typical backyard keeper does not enjoy the economies of scale of the commercial producer, and when one factors in the relatively large capital outlay, for enclosures, electric fencing, the coop, feeders and drinkers, and so on, as well as the additional products needed for keeping everything, including the chickens, clean and healthy and free from red mite, it becomes a rather marginal proposition. Continue reading

Improving egg shell quality

Recently, our girls have been laying the occasional soft shelled egg and even those with shells have been a bit thin and weak. A properly formulated layers feed is supposed to provide sufficient calcium for the production of strong egg shells. Additionally, they have access to mixed grit – a combination of flint grit and oyster shell – as well as extra oyster shell from time to time. That is usually considered to be sufficient, but clearly our girls were struggling, although they appear to be otherwise in great health. Continue reading

Brooding, moulting, and worming

Four broody hens crammed into the nest box

We currently have eight large fowl. When they are laying properly, they produce far more eggs than we can use. At the moment, though, we are only getting one or two eggs per day. For many weeks we had up to four broody hens stubbornly encamped in the nest box. I have read of various ways to discourage broodiness, but have not done more than turn them out from time to time. Of course, whilst brooding, and for some weeks after, no eggs will be laid. Even those still laying had some difficulties getting into the crowded nest box, and there would often be an egg or two just outside in the coop.

Continue reading

Happy Anniversary!

Our first egg – one year ago today

I have been wondering what my first chicken related post might be. We have been keeping chickens for more than a year now, but have so far been very fortunate not to suffer from any significant problems, although that makes for neither an interesting nor a useful article. Today, though, was our wedding anniversary. Coincidentally, it is also one year to the day since we had our very first freshly laid egg. Continue reading