Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘raising backyard chickens

Making Modifications

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Our three surviving adult hens were presented with a big change in their sleeping and nesting quarters yesterday. In preparation for moving the new chicks out of the brooder in the coming weeks, we gave the coop a thorough cleaning and then installed some temporary barriers to subdivide it.

We opted for netting up above to allow the young chicks and adult hens to become familiar with each other behind protected space that will allow the youngsters to stay out of reach of aggressive gestures.

So the thinking goes, anyway.

Cyndie was reading to me yesterday from a multitude of internet sources on raising backyard chickens and introducing new birds to an existing batch of hens. There were very few where we meet all the precautions and instructions described, but I sense they were written with an overabundance of caution in mind.

Real-world situations are never as precise as the theoretical instructions convey. We are taking the information as a rough guide and will rely on good old trial and error to learn what works for us.

I will always remember the effort of yesterday as being burdened by the tropical dewpoint temperature and the looming threat of thunderstorm (that in the end barely slipped past to the south of us) which complicated my tasks and hurried several steps, capped with my getting attacked by a hornet as I rushed to put things away.

My shirt was plastered against my skin, saturated thoroughly with sweat, and my arms were ridiculously full with tools and equipment I was rushing to return to the shop when the angry beast of an insect unleashed its burning venom as I stepped out of the barn. I screamed into the thundery dark sky and frantically contorted in attempt to pull my shirt loose from my skin to eject the attacker.

After failing twice as the burning increased, I dropped something and finally got a grip of slippery fabric behind my neck and yanked violently. That’s when I caught a glimpse of the almost humming bird-sized monster as it instantly found a second perch on my bare forearm. At that point, everything I was holding went flying in every direction, and flailing of arms and wailing of curse words dwarfing the ominous weather in ferocity were unleashed.

As quickly as possible, while ducking the continued threat of the hornet, I grabbed everything I could find and ran to the shop to lay down on my back on the cold concrete in hopes of soothing the fire raging in the flesh of my back.

That grand finish will always be my memory of fixing up the chicken coop for the soon to be mixed batch of our free-range backyard chickens.

Today’s project will involve mitigation, and hopefully, removal of stinging insect nests near the barn.

Oh, joy.



Written by johnwhays

August 9, 2020 at 10:22 am

More Chicks

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New chicks arrived this morning!


It was a two-day trip to get here through the U.S. Mail and all but one appeared to be in perfect shape. The lone weakling initially appeared as one who didn’t survive the trip but she did eventually take a drink and stand up on very wobbly legs. We are hoping for the best that she will gain strength to keep up with the rest of the rambunctious brood.

Because our previous familiar breeds were not available at the time Cyndie placed the order, she went with four that are completely new to us:

New Hampshire, Dominique, Barnevelder, & Light Brahma.

Here we go again! Despite the current battle with a fox that has boldly made a daytime attack on our 3 adult hens.

Sometimes heartfelt decisions defy logic in favor of hope.



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.



Written by johnwhays

May 10, 2019 at 6:00 am