Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Heniversary to me!

It's been just a little over a year ago now that we became chicken owners. We started with 26 little chicks in July of 2010 and as of today we have 36 chickens. Of those 36 chickens we only have 12 of our original 26 left. Early on we lost 1 EE chick to a crossbeak and 1 Welsummer chick to a mysterious illness. Our original rooster, Winston, was the next to go. He was ill tempered and after he snuck up behind my 8 year old niece and attempted to flog her, he sealed his fate. We had Winston and dumplings a couple of days later. I sold 3 of our 6 Silkies. I'd ordered a straight run hoping I'd get at least 2-3 females, and they all turned out to be hens! Who would've guessed! I also sold one of our RIR hens to the same guy that bought the Silkies. When I checked on them a few weeks ago, they were all doing well, and the RIR apparently likes to ride the tractor! I asked for a picture but haven't gotten one yet.

In October I ordered some chicks from a breeder in NY. I'd asked for 8 Welsummer chicks and 8 Ameraucana chicks, but the hatch went bad and only 5 Ameraucanas and 3 Welsummers hatched out. We had to euth 1 of the Wellsie chicks upon arrival because it couldn't walk, so that put us down to 2 Welsummers. Of those two one was a roo (yay! I needed a replacement) and one was a pullet. The Ameraucanas were 2 females and 3 males. Not so yay.

On Christmas day while the flock was free ranging a HUGE hawk came down and attacked them. The 2 EE roosters (who were supposed to be pullets) fought him off and the hawk left empty handed. But the chickens came out from cover and we did a head count, we noticed we were down one New Hampshire Red pullet. I don't know if she ran off in the woods and got lost, or the hawk inflicted a mortal wound, and she died while hiding in the wooded area around our house.

When the Welsummer male from October came of age I gave away the 2 EE roosters and 2 Ameracauana roosters to a friend of my brother. I kept one gimpy Ameraucana roo. He is now in our freezer.

While the 2 EE's were running with the girls our 3 Silkies went broody we had 8 chicks hatch out among them. We lost one to a coon, but the others are doing well. Of those 7 chicks left there are 3 roos and 4 pullets. I expect the older two pullets to start laying soon as they were born in February. The other 2 pullets are about a month younger.

One of the Ameraucana pullets started laying beautiful blue green eggs in March. Shortly after she started laying she disappeared one evening when the chicks were out free ranging. She just never showed back up at the coop at night time. I'm sure a predator got her, but there were no feathers or other indicators of fowl play (sorry. couldn't resist!)

During Welsummer rooster 2's reign 2 of our Silkies went broody again, so I put Welsummer eggs under them for them to hatch. They successfully hatched out 13 chicks - 11 Welsummers and 2 Welsummer/gimpy-(but sneaky)-Ameraucana-rooster chicks. I gave my mom 5 Welsummer chicks and I kept the rest. We lost one Wellie chick due to an unknown illness. But the remaining chicks are going strong. We have 2 Wellie roos and 1 Welsummer/gimpy-(but sneaky)-Ameraucana-rooster roo. The rest are pullets.

A couple of weeks after the chicks listed above hatched out we lost a New Hampshire Red and EE hen and our rooster to an unknown poultry assailant. The EE hen (named Kooky) made it back to the coop where she later died of blood loss from a nasty gash under her neck. I imagine our rooster was lost making a valiant attempt to save her from the predator. We're not sure what got them. We didn't hear a fuss or commotion on the evening it happened, and we never found any feathers.

Right before my Weslummer rooster died one of our Delaware pullets went broody, so we put an assortment of eggs under her. Of the 8 eggs we put under her 8 hatched out. All three of the eggs that hatched were Welsummer eggs. I was hoping that at least one Kooky egg would hatch, but sadly none did. :(

About the same time that my Delaware hen went broody some Ameraucana eggs I ordered from a breeder arrived. I borrowed an incubator from a friend and used them to incubate the 16 Am eggs. I also put 8 Welsummer eggs in the incubator. I made a completely bonehead move on Day 18 when I put the eggs into lockdown, so unfortunately only 2 chicks hatched - 1 Ameraucana and 1 Welsummer.

A couple of days after the rooster died our 3rd Silkie went broody again. Since hens can lay fertile eggs up to 2 weeks after they've been around a rooster we collected some Welsummer eggs and put them under here. Of the 8 eggs we gave her 4 hatched out. So far the Silkie and Delaware's foster chicks are too young to sex. We should be able to do so here in the next week or so. Welsummer roosters' combs and wattles develop at an early age, so I won't have to wait much longer to be able to sex the young chicks.

So that's the shorthand version of our chicken losses and additions over the past year. I never really planned having this many chickens. And I know I'll thin the ranks and eliminate unwanted roosters. Eventually I want to get more Ameraucana hens, because I like opening the egg carton and seeing eggs of varying colors. And I'm also considering getting a couple more Silkie hens and a Silkie rooster. I just have to figure out how to tell my husband that he's going to have to add on to the coop....

1 comment:

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