Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Eggs Are Here

The eggs arrived yesterday!
They were well wrapped in lots of bubble wrap.

The temps dropped yesterday and we had a huge snowstorm with 8+ inches of snow.
The eggs are from Utah.
What a long, cold trip for 6 tiny babies!
So far, the eggs look good!
None were cracked or frozen.
I let them sit on my counter at room temp. for 12 hours.
The experts recommend 12-24 hours, but I couldn't wait any longer!
Letting them set at room temp. helps the air cell (in the egg) settle. The eggs are all shaken up from their trip. I just hope they're not scrambled.

Lavender sitting on her 6 new silkie eggs!
I moved her inside.
The broody hen pen in the garage was too cold for her.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Broody Hen Pen

Lavender is broody.......again.
She is broody about 4 times a year.
I've decided to let her (try) to hatch some eggs.
Lavender in her broody box.

I don't have a rooster, so I bought some fertile eggs from a BYCer

They are silkie eggs. Hmmm, the poodles of the chicken world!

The broody hen pen.

It has a light that turns on a 8am and turns off at 8pm.

Food and water, although she's not very interested in eating.

And a cozy nest. She's still sitting on her golf balls, but soon there will be eggs!

Star of the Day

Today's Star of the Day: Zelandia aka Zela

Zela is an Australorp.
Her breed was developed in Australia from Orpington stock in the 1920's.
She has the Orpington's sweet, loving nature and amazing green/black plumage.

An Australorp set a world record by laying 364 eggs in 365 days without added winter lighting.
Zela very regularly (maybe not every day) lays a large sized brown tinted egg.

She loves to be held and cuddled.
Zela and Honey fight to be the first to sit on my lap.
Zela usually wins.....she is the flock mistress after all!

Chicken Feet

Tappity! Tappity! Tap! Ta Da!!

Chicken feet!

Can you believe people eat chicken feet?
Don't they know where those feet have been?

Gratuitous Egg Pic

Just a pic of eggs from the ladies.
-Left to right -
Pippa's egg, Lavender's egg, Zela's egg and either Butter or Honey's egg (being twins, I can't tell their eggs apart).
From Tiny to Jumbo!

What Is Grit?

Pippa looks for grit.

What is grit? And why do my chickens need it?

Chickens (like many birds) seek out and swallow small stones. The stones stay in the gizzard and help the bird grind and digest its food, much like a human chewing.

Chicks will not need grit until you start giving them treats or they go outside.

Chickens will naturally pick up stones and swallow them, but you should provide some free choice grit just in case weather conditions (snow/ ice) prevent them from finding stones.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bathing Chickens?

Yes! - You Can Bathe Your Chicken!
After a long cold winter, I gave the ladies a bath.

Use gentle baby shampoo and warm (not hot, chicken soup?) water.

Gently blow-dry the chickens' feathers dry or let them dry naturally.

Don't put your ladies back outside wet!
They can't keep warm with wet feathers!

Baths make chickens sleeply.....

Air dried tail feathers!

Ahhh - what a nice chicken spa day!

How Long Will Chickens Live?

The Guinness World Record for oldest chicken is/was held by Matilda. 16 years old!
Just like any other pet, chicken age will depend on their care.

How long will chickens lay eggs for?
Chickens molt at about 18 months of age.
Molting is where they lose all or some of their feathers and stop producing eggs for a few (2-4 months).
This is a natural shedding of feathers.
Factory farms usually cull their hens at this time, BUT if these are your pets you don't have to cull your hens.
They will continue to lay eggs after their molt, until they die (hopefully, like Matilda at 16+ years old!).
They may not lay as well as they did during their first year, however they will still be sweet and cuddly pets.

What's A Broody?

What's A Broody? Or Why Does My Hen Hate Me?

A hen lays only one egg every day or two.
She does not start to incubate them until the whole clutch is laid.
This way all the chicks will hatch at the same time.
When the instinct strikes, and the hen believes she has enough eggs in her clutch, she will go broody.
Hens can not count, so if you are taking the eggs away every day this will discourage broodiness, but not necessarily stop it. If she feels like it she will go broody!
Lavender demonstrates broody behavior
A broody hen will make muttering, growling sounds if disturbed, and may even peck or otherwise try to defend her nest. She will only leave the nest once a day to eat, drink and defecate. You should make sure the hen does do this at least every other day so she will not starve.
Watch out!
Broody hen droppings usually come out in one large, very bad-smelling glob.
They save it up just for you!
Some hen breeds (silkies, cochins or other bantams) are excessively broody. They will try to brood anything, including rocks, golf balls, air, other hens, kittens, ect.
If you want chicks:
It is best to move your hen to a protected nest once she has been sitting tightly for a few days.
This protects her from being chased off the nest by more dominant hens, leaving the eggs to chill and die.
Move her gently at night and keep the new nest dark for the next day.
Place a few golf balls in the nest.
If she stays on these tightly for a couple days, then give her the eggs you want her to hatch.
You can order fertile eggs from someone with a rooster. Maybe you want a variety of chicks - order a variety of eggs!

A hen is also called broody when she is raising her chicks, protecting them, teaching them to find food, and hovering over them to keep them warm.

Can I Make A Broody?
In a word - No.
Hens decide when they want to be broody. It's instinctive for some breeds, other breeds (Leghorns, sex-links, ect.) will never be broody, because broody tendencies have been bred out of them.
These non-broody hens will lay more eggs, but they won't be broody mothers.