On July 3, Brown Dog, belonging to our neighbor feasted on two of my United Nations flock of cull chickens, after causing significant damage to the chicken tractor in which they were housed. On July 4, eldest son and I killed the remainder of them and frozen them for stewing chickens plus 1 rooster, the Buff Orpington, the King of the Domain. He had gotten too aggressive toward the hens and toward us. Neither of the then 14 month old hens was showing any signs of broodiness though I really had wanted a self sustaining flock and hen set chicks. The next day, Brown Dog managed to scare the teenagers enough that one flew out of the pen the dog couldn’t get in and he trotted home with a young Buff Orpington pullet in his mouth. Brown Dog hasn’t been seen since then, and the Buffs are maturing to a point where I expect the 3 that are 22 weeks old to start laying very soon and the 20 week olds to begin within a couple more weeks. Since July 4, we have averaged only 1 egg a day from the two adults.
Beginning night before last, when I went to check for eggs and lock up the girls, I found one of the mature hens sitting in the nesting box that they both use. I chased her out, took the egg and closed them up for the night. The next morning, she didn’t come out to eat with the rest of the girls and sure enough, she was on the box again and puffed herself all up at me. I chased her out again and found her there again last night, this morning and this afternoon. This evening, though there are no eggs to collect, I put an upside down bucket in that nesting box. She is quite indignant with me, puffing up and trying to peck my hand when I shoo her away. She probably won’t be too amused to find the bucket in her space, but now that Cogburn is in freezer camp, it is pointless to let her continue to be broody as there are no fertilized eggs for her to sit. Silly chicken.
I have 15 Rainbow Ranger chicks due here the end of the first week of August to raise in the second pen and chicken tractor and I don’t need Buff Orpington chicks in the coop that won’t mature enough to put in the freezer this fall. Perhaps next spring I will replace Cogburn with a new young rooster and let one or more of the hens go broody and see if we get chicks in the coop. For now, I just need to break Buttercup’s heart and her broodiness.
This has been a tough couple of days for my flock. Yesterday morning, a neighbor’s dog who is generally chained up slipped his chain and caused enough damage to the chicken tractor where the culls were for them to escape after which he caught and killed two of them. This necessitated a change of day’s plan and eldest son and I went to work to make the coop pen more secure, start the work to make a more secure cull/meat bird pen with the chicken tractor inside of it, and to start planting posts to run the electric fence not just around the garden, but also around the two chicken pens.
Today was the day we had planned to kill and clean the cull birds, now down from 8 to the 6 we did get in the freezer. They were the original chickens I bought last year before I settled on the Buff Orpingtons and I called them my U.N. flock as there were 6 different breeds represented. We put 18.75 lbs of chicken away today.
After clean up and dinner, we decided to go into town for ice cream and while we were gone, the same dog again got loose and got one of my young Buff Orpingtons. This is now a problem as the dog has discovered he likes chicken and they are easy to catch. I don’t see any damage to the pen, so he can either jump a 4 foot fence or one of the young buffs got out and he caught it on the outside. We hadn’t finished setting the posts for the electric fence yet, so that barrier wasn’t there to deter the dog. The dog’s young owner is upset that his dog has killed 3 chickens in 2 day and I am perturbed about it but only to the extent that the dog isn’t secured well enough to not wander down the country road to our farm and get the chickens. I had thought about some free range time, but can’t do that with the dog in the area.
I don’t know what to do now. Son and I will see if we can figure out whether the dog can get in the pen and I guess I will have to cover more of the top with netting to try to keep the young buffs from flying over the top until they get too heavy to escape.
In our freezer camp event today, we also killed my rooster as he had gotten too aggressive with us and with the hens. This also presents a dilemma as I wanted a self sustaining flock and though the hens lay eggs without a rooster, they obviously won’t hatch, so I will either have to buy another rooster and hope that he is less aggressive or buy fertilized eggs when a hen gets broody to let her sit to hatch. I don’t want to have to keep buying chicks every few years and raise them in the brooder. We already have to deal with the brooder for the meat birds once or twice a year.
We currently have only two mature birds to provide us with eggs. Hopefully the 17 and 19 week old pullets will start laying soon, assuming I can keep Brown Dog out of their territory.