Chicken update – Spring 2015

An update on the chickens is long overdue and particularly relevant now that spring is arriving in the North Pennines.

This last winter has been a real eye-opener because both flocks of chickens went through a fairly drastic moult. We hadn’t seen that at all during the first winter here so it was a bit of an education.

Hybrid layers

The rescue hens arrived just before Christmas and are making great progress. They have been with us for 3 months now as company for our last remaining pet hen – one-eyed Adele.

She had been kept separate from the others for safety after an unfortunate incident in 2013 and had been on her own since the unexpected demise of her side kick – Aretha.

Spot the rescue hens
Spot the rescue hens

It has been great to see her adjust to the new arrivals even if she was less than welcoming at the start. It wasn’t easy for her to keep the new arrivals in line, particularly with just one eye!

They are now a proper “gang” though, marauding together around their pen, the courtyard and even the large hay meadow too.

Taking free-range to the next level
Taking free-range to the next level

The “inherited” flock

We took over a flock of white chickens on moving in here and I’ve never known the breed name. However they have a very sneaky nature and are certainly not interested in being handled.

The cockerel keeps them in line and tolerates our presence a little but mostly because we bring a little corn near the end of the day!

A fine looking specimen
A fine looking specimen

The regular event of hunting for egg laying sites has begun but we can now draw on the experiences from the past so I’m getting better at that.

There’s nothing wrong with their nest boxes and occasionally eggs are laid there but instinct tells them to sneak off and lay elsewhere.

This year the plan is to find the hidden eggs and only remove a few eggs while marking the ones left behind. This seems to be working in one site for the moment and I don’t think they’ve noticed yet!

Two can play at being sneaky
Two can play at being sneaky

With the longer days and warmer weather the egg production from both flocks has increased noticeably – This is very welcome given the cost of feed

However it has now reached the point where the quiche tins will need to be brought out from the back of the cupboard.

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