The chickens are laying again… at last!

After an extended period with no egg production from our chickens, last week we finally got some more eggs out of them. Despite our regular supply of layers pellets and plenty of corn for the long, cold winters nights they had obviously decided to close the egg production down until the days start getting longer.

First egg for 2019
First egg for 2019

As a result we’ve not had our own eggs for many weeks and eventually had to buy some which was a real novelty after all this time. The pleasure of eating eggs from our own hens was becoming a fond but distant memory.

In the past we have bought a few new point of lay hens in early Autumn with the idea that they might produce some eggs during the winter months when out older birds have stopped. This worked well for the last couple of years but unfortunately we never got around to buying more hens last autumn and we took the opportunity to adopt some locally as their owners were emigrating to New Zealand.

Some of the motley chicken crew
Some of the motley chicken crew

The adopted chickens – Colin the cockerel plus his 3 hens – settled in very well and fairly quickly integrated into our existing flock with very little trouble. They all share the same hen-house now without any problems although some seem to prefer the next boxes over night and don’t want to join the rest on the roosting bars which are higher up.

Perhaps they’re too tired to flap up┬áto them at night or maybe they’re just scared of heights?

 

There’s always more to learn!

After the anticipation of an impending farrowing and my failure to spot some key telltale signs, I eventually had to admit that Sissy was not actually in-pig as I had originally hoped.

It would seem that she was just taking advantage of a lapse in concentration, my own (incorrect) assumptions and the chance for a few quiet nights on her own in the shed

Once I realised that nothing was going to happen, it was obviously time for Sissy to take the Walk of Shame to a new pen in the woods. I wasn’t interested in mucking out that shed anymore for a freeloader!

On her way to the naughty step
On her way to the naughty step

To her credit, Sissy was extremely well-behaved and happily led the way round to the woods so perhaps she is trying to get back in my good books. She also adopted a very apologetic expression on arrival at her new accommodation…

Suitably apologetic I hope
Suitably apologetic I hope

As it happens, the remaining 4 meat pigs have now reached the age where I need to separate the 2 non-castrated boys from their 2 sisters. Taking the path of least resistance is always the best option when moving pigs and the first one I got into our trailer was a gilt so that decided the way the move would go.

Now Sissy has a couple of 5 month old gilts for company and, since one of them could potentially replace her if necessary, maybe she will pull herself together when I next try the AI

After all, this unfortunate situation can’t all be my fault or can it?

Friendly company or rivals?
Friendly company or rivals?

And so we’re preparing for farrowing again…

It seems like no time since the last farrowing but after some thought I realise that was actually back in August 2018. I probably should have been more aware of that because we still have 4 meat pigs from that litter and they’re doing really well

Happy families in the woods
Happy families in the woods

Preparations for the farrowing shed were going well earlier this week and included some minor repairs to the piglet corner protection which takes a bit of a beating each year. After putting down some fresh straw with the food and water troughs nicely organised, the quality control team assessed the results and gave it a 5 star rating!

Inspection team hard at work
Inspection team hard at work

Moving Sissy in from the woods was thankfully relatively straightforward, apart from a minor detour when she decided to explore the next door field rather than head back to the farrowing shed. This caused a brief moment of panic because I know that our Tamworths love to explore new places and we didn’t have the time for that sort of excursion today.

Luckily my glamorous assistant was on hand with a pig board to steer her back in the right direction and normal service was resumed very quickly…

No exploring allowed today
No exploring allowed today

With impeccable manners as always, she (the pig not my assistant) simply trotted alongside me all the way back to the outbuildings. She wasn’t even particularly interested in the feed bucket that I was carrying and almost seemed to remember the route all the way to the farrowing shed.

Almost back to the shed
Almost back to the shed

So now we’re all set and the waiting begins. My calculations can be fairly accurate since I know exactly when the artificial insemination happened and using an estimate of 114 days, I’m hoping for a Sunday farrowing. As I recall Sissy seems to favour farrowing during the late afternoon/evening based on past litters so maybe there won’t be any sleepless nights!