Sunday, December 11, 2011

Operation Chicken Drop or Chickens Can Be Real A#@holes!

I wanted to increase the number of chickens in our flock because my 17 chickens have not been producing enough eggs for us or for my egg business at work.  On a good day lately I would consider myself lucky if I got 4 eggs.  The eggs usually vary from day to day so I know that many of the chickens are laying but too few and far between to keep up with demand.  Supply was low.  I can't blame it on the cold either because this had been going on since the summer when a good number then was 7-9 eggs/day with that number slowly decreasing.  In the spring most of our chickens will be 2 years old which is arguably approaching the end of good egg laying days for the girls.
When we initially bought our chicks in the spring of 2010 we picked a variety mostly for looks and not necessarily all heavy layers.  We get many big eggs and many small eggs from the smaller, but unique looking chickens; variety in chicken and variety in egg is nice but I really want consistency now that I've gotten the unique chicken thing out of my system.  Chicken feed certainly isn't getting any cheaper and the girls need to earn their keep.  Periodically in every flock chickens die and over the past almost 2 years we went from 20 or 21 down to 17.  Time to get more chickens.
There are several means to get chickens: buy as chicks on-line or at a local feed store (not possible this time of year), friends of friends that raise them, craigslist, or rescue.  I opted for the last, well thought I would look into it anyway.  Within the last couple weeks I contacted the Erie County SPCA (where we adopted our pot-bellied pig in January 2010) to see if they had any hens that might be looking for homes.  At the time they did not but a few days ago I got an email from the barn manager to tell me that some hens became available.
There were 5 in all: 4 white chickens (possibly White Orpingtons or White Rocks) that were found as strays in Elma (Elmanian chickens-since my parents live in Elma my mom and I will periodically discuss whether or not they are Elmanians (read terrorist sounding) or Elmanites (Amish sounding) as my mom prefers) and a Red Star that came from somewhere else.  They all seem to be laying eggs quite nicely so I decided to go check them out.  Drove out to the SPCA yesterday and the place was a hive of activity as they were in the middle of their annual Radiothon to raise money.  I was happy that most of the dog kennels their had signs on them saying "Adopted: going home soon" or "Adoption Pending."  I didn't get to see the cats because the place was full of people waiting to get processed and take their forever pets home.  We have plenty of those furry types for now so I was the guy adopting chickens.  Yep, I like what I saw so they came home with me.

2 hens in one dog crate and 3 in the other.  2 of the white hens had some feather loss; who knows why since they were strays.  Could be normal molting or weather related.

The chickens remained in the crates until nightfall at which point I added them to the flock of "sleeping" chickens.  Flocks are much more likely to accept new members if added at night because they are in a way tricked into thinking that they were there all along.  Chickens are not the brightest...or always the nicest.
First thing this morning I checked on how things were going and if the new girls were assimilating, being allowed to is more like it, into the flock.  The coop was very loud as the girls were trying to figure out what happened overnight.  For the most part things were going well but of course the chickens were picking, literally, on the one that had the most feather loss.  Not sure how long this will go on but once chickens lock in on something they tend to not give up on it.  It can take months for them to accept a chicken, and will beat up on it in the meanwhile.  Not all chickens survive the hazing process.  I hope that is not the case here.  Chickens CAN be a#@holes!

The 4 chickens on the ground are 4 of the 5 new ones.

And the 2 white ones to the right are new...

Breakfast in the coop is always fun to watch!

And Czar, backlit by the morning sun coming through his window eats his breakfast and wants to know what all the ruckus is about.

As does Divo.

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