I don't know about you but for us, the summer is extremely busy. Before the garden starts to provide bounty, the berry bushes do. And before the berry bushes hang heavy with fruit we had chicken drama.
The first weekend of April, we spent the afternoon at a relative's house and when we came home, we had a lot of chicken bodies. That is right, about half of our chickens were no longer. A dog attack that happened close to dark decimated our flock (including last fall's new baby, the mother hen, Big Mama survived).
One week later we purchased 10 new chicks. Two weeks later, as our rooster, Mr. Roo, whose entire harem of girls were destroyed by the dog (yes we know which dog) decided that his new girls i.e. the rest of the flock, needed to be protected from our one year old, enthusiastically jumped onto his head and knocked him down. Needless to say, he was butchered that Friday.
Four weeks (the first weekend in April) after the initial attack, we again, went a relative's house and came home to three bodies and the rest missing. A fox attack. One of the bodies was Big Mama and as I rushed up to her in my upset "Oh My God Big Mama!" exclamation, she raised her head. She couldn't walk or stand and could barely stand up. My poor baby. (Yes I am seriously attached to this hen. She is the one who always lets me pet her and pick her up and needless to say she is also an amazing layer.) Out of 13 chickens, Big Mama was alive and we had 2 of the new girls, a Red Comet and a Buff Brahma) in the coop. With heavy hearts, we went to bed. The next morning, one of our new girls (the second Buff Brahma) and our Golden Maran returned. The Golden Maran promptly sat on a nest and went broody. After a week of being broody, we slipped 12 hatching eggs under her. It was an incredible sight to behold the 9 healthy chicks she hatched. (The eggs were from a nearby farmer, 6 were purebred Sumatras and 6 were mixed.) We also purchased 7 new 6 week old chicks and 3 laying hens.
|Our two grown Buff Brahmas rolling in the flower beds.|
Of the seven new chickens, we got 4 Red Comet hens, a white something hen, and two Polish mixes that both appear to be roosters. I say appear because one of them we have seen try to mount the hens only once or twice, while the other one tries to mount anything and everything.
Toward the end of July, Big Mama, much to our surprise, went broody. After a few days of her staying broody, we got two more eggs from our local contact and slipped them under her. Exactly one week later our Golden Maran also went broody. This time we decided to check the eggs from the day before to see which were fertilized. We selected three we knew should be and left the one that the Maran had laid herself, which we weren't sure if it was or not and waited.
As we have had issues with the Golden Maran having lice while broody, I began checking both girls as soon as they went broody. The Golden Maran never had a problem. Big Mama on the other hand was terribly infested. I have never seen lice so bad and now realize that the little bit we saw before was nothing. So once a week, until a few days before the chicks were due to hatch, I washed Big Mama in a big pot of peppermint soap, soaking her for 5-7 minutes. I then rinsed her and blow dryer her a little (broody hens don't have as many feathers.) to help her dry more quickly. I would wash her when she came out for her food and drink run and put her back into the sun as quickly as possible. She would sun bath for a short while then return to the nest. With the Golden Maran, I never dared wash her for fear she would abandon the chicks. We didn't discover the problem until after the chicks hatched. For the first week, we rubbed a little wood ash under their wings, Mama and babies, but once they moved back to the coop at the one week mark, the Maran quickly took over teaching the babies to dust. It is important to note that none of the girls had mites, only lice. I have read that mites can kill baby chicks although I have not had experience with this so far.
|Our energetic although not too skilled rooster.|
|Big Mama and chick at 10 days old.|
This past Friday, the Maran's egg hatched. Then on Saturday another one hatched. Two out of four, fertilized by our own rooster. The other two were not viable.
Even though I had nothing to do with it, I feel very proud of my flock. Silly I know but the truth.
|The two babies running around the coop with their Mama close by.|
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