Tuesday, October 19, 2010

They've Started!!

Woohoo!!! I'm getting pullet eggs. The dark brown one is the first that I received the middle of last week. And the last couple days I've been getting two a day. Even more exciting.
I've bought eggs twice from the store and oh how I hate doing that. Ever since ( I think it was Salmonella scare), they said they were spraying the egg shells and they may continue to do that with all eggs from then on. For that reason the store egg shells are not going into my garden. Don't know if they are spraying but since egg shells are porous, that means chemicals are seeping inside. Combine that and the chemicals in the feed and anti-biotic needed to keep mass numbers of chickens in confinement healthy, if you can call them healthy and I cringe each carton I buy.
So these pullet eggs are especially welcome since the old girls are still busy with their moult. Oh the one I showed you the other day that looked like something from a freak show is very quickly gaining her feathers back but the egg supply from these old girls is minimal at best and somedays none at all. That makes every new hen that starts laying endeared to me. That means this hen!! I kind of favored her anyway with her plump, matronly looks. Her comb is turning a lovely rosy red. Not as red as last years hens, the Wyadotte or the two Barred Rocks, but red enough she must be laying. This young hen is either a Wyadotte or Barred Rock /Austrolorp cross.
The Austrolorps are touted in the catalogue to begin between five to six months and mine have but this is a cross and she could have taken longer. I'm glad to see she and the other hen like her are both taking after the Austrolorps in speed of laying eggs.
{This batch of chicks began to hatch on May 14th and the first eggs was almost to the day on schedule of five months.} Now I do have this pretty little hen that is the right size but her comb is underdeveloped and she doesn't show any signs of laying anytime soon. In fact, she looks to be months away. She may be chicken noodle soup as I need to begin being picky about my hens. Why have an Austrolorp that I bred because they lay early when this girl won't. Also since my experience is that they moult and completely quit, then she won't be as productive of a hen so why keep her to have chicks from? That would just perpetuate the problem and multiply it. I'll give her just a little while before she looses her head over the deal as I don't have the time to butcher her right now anyway. This is the Buff Orpington/Austrolorp hen I've kept watch on. She's not laying either. Notice the light comb on top with all the white flecks. Her waddles are becoming bright red and her comb should soon follow after so I'll keep an eye on her as she should hopefully change soon and begin to lay.
I really like the Barred Rocks despite their ugly featherless head. The two Barred Rock hens are still laying evern though they are missing lots of feathers. This breeds over all performance has pleased me for they lay well in cold and hot weather, and a little during their moult.

This Barred Rock is rather boring but her sister is a hoot. When I open the coop's door, she comes a running and sidles up next to me jabbering away non stop. Haven't a clue what she's saying but that doesn't matter to her. She's going to tell it to me anyway. The way she clucks and croos to me, I can just imagine she's telling me all the coops gossip. She's still talking away when I leave too. I hate to interrupt her but I'd proably be there all day if I didn't. I've tried to stroke her a number of times but she'll have none of that. Since most of the hens are rather boring, this character is a welcome change.

With only one Wyadotte (the other one died the other day - she must of done some internal damage somehow from the way she acted before she died) and two Barred Rock hens all a year old, I'm wanting to buy a few more of each as I really like them. I've plenty of Austrolorps so I won't be needing any more of those. Of course I've always loved Wyadottes. We had a pet rooster named Chanticleer who rode on the backs of the sheep when it snowed. He ran loose with them and stayed in the shed at night warmed by their woolly coats. In the morning when I fed, he'd ride on top out to the hay feeder, hop off eat, and bum a ride back when he was done. I'd feed him chicken scratch by the milking shed but he was real reluctant to go there when the ground was covered with snow. He was such a sweet and amicable old character.

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