I gave up on trying to break the broody hen and instead set her on a clutch of eggs. Out of my flock of 10 laying hens, one is raising chicks, now 2 1/2 weeks old and very adventurous. When I toss scratch in the hens’ run, scurrying through the fence to see if they can have some too.
The littles are developing feathers and beginning to stretch out in size. This afternoon I caught Mom teaching them to dust bathe. It was amusing watching them imitate her as she rolled in the dusty edge of their run.
Three are sitting clutches of eggs. We started out the week with 28 eggs total under them, but somehow they broke three and lost one, so there are 24 incubating. The first hen started on May 30, the last on June 3, so we will soon be overrun with little fluffy chicks running around the pens. This is severely impacting the egg production. The coop and chicken tractor will suddenly be way too small to accommodate that many chooks, even for the 16 to 20 weeks until they are large enough to sort, cull, and butcher for the freezer. In that end, Son #1 is headed here tonight to work with a plan he drew up to utilize the reclaimed wood from the compost bins, extra roofing from building the house and a couple of rolls of hardware cloth to build a simple cull coop in which to house them. The plan will be a coop about 90+ square feet with a couple of low nesting boxes for raising babies or for egg laying by the more mature hens that are being culled.
I love that we are going to be able to use this old lumber, saved from an old farmhouse that was torn down and repurposed as the compost bins and now to be repurposed as the frame for the coop. In preparation of these efforts and due to the tall grass outside the gardens and coops, I moved the new compost bin to a spot adjoining the garden and mowed the nearly knee high grass. All of that was done before morning chicken chores were accomplished so as not to upset the chooks too much with mowing right around them.
The hardware to make the assembly possible was purchased today, tomorrow, we will assess where this new coop will be placed and construction will commence. If we get it done, the sitting hens will be shifted to the new coop prior to hatching and will be contained within it until their chicks are large enough for the sort and cull. The hens who are being good Moms are being doubled banded so that we know which ones brooded this year and decisions can be made about which of the mature hens will be saved over for another year and which will be replaced with new pullets. Next year, Romeo will likely be replaced with another Rooster to keep some variation in the gene pool.
The egg production is down, but the potential meat for the freezer is up. I will keep you on the farm to see how many little yellow fluffy butts will be running around in the next few weeks.
Love our life on the mountain farm.