Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘laying hens

Impressive Results

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I found myself inexplicably overjoyed upon reading news from Cyndie yesterday morning that “all [eight] hens ran out of coop” together when she opened the hatch. A short time later, she found them all still together, hanging out in our woods. Just as we had read would happen, after a mere two days in the “broody breaker” cage we built, the uncontrolled urge to constantly lay in a nest box has been dispatched. It worked!

The two Golden Laced Wyandottes who went all broody on us are once again foraging along with the rest of the flock.

We couldn’t be happier over the results.

If only we could enjoy success like this when trying to adjust Delilah’s behavior.

Unrelated to any behavior concerns for our almost perfect pooch, I got my thumb bitten more painfully than ever a few days ago, when trying to wrangle a pull toy out of her mouth in her favorite game of tug-of-war.

She didn’t notice she got me, which I am happy about, because it wasn’t her fault at all and I didn’t want her to feel bad. I just had my thumb in the wrong place at the wrong time and it cost me one heck of a bruise, right at the nail bed. I get a frequent reminder when I type.

Luckily, the pressure didn’t break the skin.

I certainly learned of the impressive results of her bite, though.

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Written by johnwhays

May 15, 2019 at 6:00 am

Not Sick

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Cyndie figured out that the behavior we are seeing in our Wyandotte –well, unfortunately, now two Wyandottes– is a case of them going “broody.” They want to hatch eggs. From what we have learned, reading up on the subject, Wyandottes have a noteworthy tendency for becoming broody.

The vision of that first hen splayed out in the nest box, when I initially spotted her there, looked completely different than normal. She seemed like a big water balloon, the way she spread out. Knowing now that she was trying to incubate eggs, it makes perfect sense.

Looks like we will have our work cut out for us to break the hens of the broody behavior. That mothering instinct kicks in and changes their hormones. Since there are no fertilized eggs to be hatched, there is the possibility that broodiness will continue beyond the average 21 days, given no reward of chicks.

Prior to kicking into gear with some of the more involved re-training suggestions, Cyndie has tried simply removing the hens from the nest boxes and putting them out with the others. Our second brooder grumpily sat right down on the ground and refused to join in the frivolity of a mealworm snack.

Her loss.

Discovering that they aren’t sick has been a relief, but there are still reasons for concern. We certainly enjoy getting eggs from our hens, but if one stops laying for a time, it’s not a serious problem. However, if the broody hen doesn’t get back to her normal self, it can be hard on her health over time.

Of even more concern to me is that going broody can get to be contagious, certainly supported by our recent evidence of the second Wyandotte taking to similar behavior in another nest box.

We’ll be intensifying our efforts to interfere with their brooding instincts until we can get things back to usual.

Just when it was feeling like we were getting the hang of this chicken rearing, another new lesson pops up to remind us how little we actually know.

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Written by johnwhays

May 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

Daytime Sighting

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Our dog, Delilah, has so many episodes of freaking out over something she sees or hears through our doors and windows that we have grown numb to her outbursts. It is rare that I bother looking anymore to see what squirrel/rabbit/bird is triggering her tizzy.

Of course, there was the time last summer when we finally checked and discovered she was barking about that group of 10 cows that had found their way up near our bedroom window. Her reaction that time was totally justified.

Last night, we were up in the loft when she revved up over something she spotted in the back yard through the French doors. Since I had a similar view without needing to get up, I turned to check it out.

There was a raccoon sauntering across our yard in broad daylight, unfortunately, directly toward the chicken coop. I rushed down to track its path and was able to see it climb up a large tree and disappear, high up inside the main trunk. Just a short distance further ahead, the chickens were calmly combing the deep leaves on the ground among the trees.

Our chicken coop, when buttoned up for the night, is well secured against raccoon intrusion. Regular readers may recall we got duped by a possum that snuck inside during the day and killed one of our hens over night after we shut the door at sunset.

Now we check all the nooks when we count the chickens and close the door for the night. The usual evening report used to simply list the number of hens secured, but now it always includes the affirmation of the coop being predator-free, as well.

Unfortunately, since we have chosen to free-range our chickens, they are easy prey during daylight hours. One reason a raccoon will be out during the daytime (other than maybe being sick with rabies or dysentery) is because of hunger. That is not a good omen in such close proximity to where our chickens hang out.

I tossed a treat of dried mealworms in the pan of feed yesterday afternoon.

It was a BIG hit. They came after me looking for more:

We collected seven new home-laid eggs yesterday.

At least the hens are putting those worms to good use.

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No Question

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We have raved many times over how amazing our free range eggs are. Cyndie coined the term, “home-made” to refer to the ones we collect from our hens.

Just in case you aren’t sure why we are always going on about how much better our eggs are, as compared to local “cage free organic” eggs from the grocery store, Cyndie took a picture for reference.

Can you see the difference we are talking about?

Trust me, they taste as good as they look.

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Written by johnwhays

January 11, 2019 at 7:00 am

Hardy Hens

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Temperatures outside have been a rollercoaster of up and down lately. There have been a few passing snow flurries to coat the residual ice we are stuck with in the paddocks, but New Year’s Day yesterday was seriously cold and dry.

Our hens seem to be dealing with it all perfectly well. They are troopers now about traversing the snow-covered ground between their coop and the barn.

It seems they have some extra motivation lately to make the trip. The chickens have taken a particular liking to the hay boxes. It looks like they were having a little party in the sun yesterday afternoon.

With the length of daylight gaining seconds every day, the hens are going a long way to mastering survival in the battle against the elements. It should just get easier from here, right?

The success in avoiding predation for these nine, reveals some wily cunning on their part, which I think goes along with some natural luck they’ve enjoyed that has helped to keep them from harm thus far.

The birds are living up to the billing that these breeds are winter hardy.

Before long, the added daylight will have them laying more eggs again, too, so, we have that to look forward to, as well.

They sure bring us a lot of love every day. Here’s hoping they keep doing this well for all of 2019 and beyond!

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Written by johnwhays

January 2, 2019 at 7:00 am