Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I am excited to have found a hatchery a couple of hours from me that hatches different, rare and bantam breeds. Most of the hatcheries people in my area have to order from are 6 to 8 hours away and only carry the sex-link, white leghorn and meat breeds.
For people in the Ottawa area the most popular hatchery is Frey's Hatchery. All my laying hens came from there, plus most of the hens I had as a kid came from there twenty years ago, so they have good stock and a trusted name.
The other one I just stumbled upon is Performance Poultry, they carry a much larger variety of breeds. I will put links up on the right as well for these hatcheries. Performance Poultry also offers poultry supplies which can also be hard to get in this area.
If someone from the Ottawa area or Ontario has any other information they want me to link to feel free to comment.
Monday, December 15, 2008
This is just a hobby for me so it is not that important if the hens lay well, I just like trying different ideas. The point of this post is if some one stumbles onto it and was wondering about trying the lighting trick, I say do it. Jump start the hens to 12 hours of light and work it up to 14. My lights come on at 5am and go off at 8am then they come back on at 3pm and go off for the night at 8pm for a total of 15 hours. Good luck.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I added another window for more light and air flow in summer, there is a large window in the back. The pen is about 6X8, it has heavy gauge 2X4 wire to stop big animals like raccoons and foxes, plus smaller chicken wire on the outside to stop smaller things from getting in. The wire goes under ground and I placed large flat cement blocks to stop anything from digging underneath. The coop is near a busy highway so I can't let them run free-range as I would like to, maybe one day I will own a hobby farm and then they can run free. The little door stays open all the time so that they can go out as soon as they wake up.Right now it is -20C or -4F depends which temp you read so the door to the out side is shut with shavings piled against it to stop any cold drafts. On sunny days if the temperatures rise closer to 32F or 0C I let them back out.They have wooden laying boxes and seem to favour one box for a few weeks and then switch, I guess they like a change. I use straw in the boxes and I was using shavings on the floor. The shavings I find keeps them cleaner but I have been using straw on the floor the last few weeks, I find they move around more and scratch more with straw on the floor, they say to keep them active like this helps get them to lay over the winter.
They have food ahead of them free choice, I placed a heat lamp over their water container and that seems to keep it from freezing, it is a metal one so don't try that with a plastic water container or it may melt. I also keep the water container up off the floor on a thick block of cement, less debris tossed into it when the girls are at work scratching around. I also have a light that turns on with a timer, I was told to give them 14 hours of light so it comes on at five in the morning and then again at three until eight in the evening. The heat lamp comes on a half hour before and a half hour after the other 60 watt bulb. This way they know it is about to get bright or dark and they will get up or get ready for bed just like the sun rising or setting. At the moment with the extreme cold, I am leaving the heat lamp on almost 24 hours but I heard this is not good as they may not sleep well and it could affect their laying. As for laying the girls had stopped, two started to molt and two were too young to lay. When I put in the lights, after a week they started to lay again but not as good as in summer. Two lay every other day and it seems one of the younger ones has started to lay. I try to keep it that feeding, watering and cleaning only really have to be done once a week and most other times I'm just checking up on them or giving them treats. Well any way this is the building where I spend part of my hobby time now.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I was a little worried how my hens who were a little older would treat the new comers, I did not see the disaster that was about to unfold. My hens are not aggressive, they also had their beaks trimmed as chicks so they could not pick each other. The new hens turned out to be much larger with full beaks. It would also appear that I grabbed the more dominate hens out of the large group, the results were four nasty mean hens that made life miserable for my poor girls. After a week things were only getting worse, my hens were not allowed to eat, drink or go outside unless I was there to protect them. My girls stopped laying and I was afraid they would be ganged up on and killed which can happen. I decided to re-sell the new hens.I began to notice that it seemed to be two hens that were the worse. The other two smaller black hens were not as aggressive and also were picked on by the nasty bigger two. One after noon I locked the smallest black one in with my girls, after an hour or so, she was fine with my girls, I tried with the second smallest and it worked out as well.
Above you can see the smallest black hen is larger than my red hen, so imagine the largest black hen and the difference between red and black. Here they started to get along but the red hen keeps her distance. After a couple of hours together, and without the back-up of the nasty two, the black hen settles in with my girls below. You can also see my little Silkie rooster preening his feathers, I named him Chico-chicken. He, being a Bantam bonded to my smaller girls right away, he stays with them and has even tried to protect them from the larger black hens, of course this only make me like him that much more.After I tried this with the second smallest hen and it worked well. I tried to do the same thing by separating the bigger hens and keeping them alone with my girls, however with the bigger hens, they were programed to attack and so I had to sell them. I think what happened is that when getting the chickens, we grabbed the first hens that came into the coop not knowing that the first two were the dominate hens out of a flock of fifty, I guess they had to be that aggressive to be top dog amongst fifty but against four smaller hens it could have turned deadly. The smaller ones were underdogs that just happened to run in when the lady chased a bunch to us. Within hours of selling the 'mean girls' the black hens left were totally fine with my hens and now everyone gets along. Four red sex-links, two Black sex-links and one Chico or Silkie.
Still, I feel bad about having to let them go as they were nice quiet big healthy birds but I had no choice, below is the final picture of them and this story... as the girls show you...the end!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
It was hard to get a good picture of him as he always ran away and never stayed still long enough to get a good shot. In the sun he was much better looking than I caught here. I called him Fred. The girls when they came to me had been spoiled with treats and so, loved the sight of humans. Fred on the other hand was raised free-range on a farm by his mother and had almost no human contact, the result was a rooster almost as wild as a partridge. I felt sorry for him as every time I went to the coop, he had a melt down.
Soon however I was not very impressed with his behaviour. The girls had understood right away he was male and did not mind him. Fred on the other hand in spite of being one or two years old, was afraid of the hens and would attack them as if they were other roosters instead of courting them. It became bad enough that if Fred came outside the girls went in and if Fred went in they came out, they took a vote and wanted nothing to do with him.
It took a long while for him to finally settle in, he began to act like a rooster after almost two weeks but the stress had caused the hens to almost stop laying. He was better with them but still would not sleep near them at night, he was so flighty that he still was afraid of the girls, if I was not around them much for a day or two, he would become like the day I got him all over again, his melt downs were causing the hens to become nervous as they could never figure out what he was seeing to make him so upset, which of course was just me.In the end I kept him for about a month or more, I liked his crowing in the morning, loud enough to be heard but soft enough that he never bothered the neighbors. He had been good for a couple of weeks and was king of his castle, suddenly his mean streak came back and he would attack the hens or pull their feathers out, often I caught him grabbing them by the tail and there was no reason for it as the hens would let him mate with them. I decided since the girls were such sweet hens, it was not fair to them to live with such a bully so I took him back, since he wants to fight all the time, there are about ten other rooster there to fight with. He is free to range again there so I hope he is as happy as a chicken can be.
Monday, December 1, 2008
They kept laying after I bought them in September, I did not push them and was only feeding scratch feed but I still received three eggs a day so not bad I think for four hens. They love clover, grass and earth worms so I gave them what I could. These girls were my start back into chickens, I watched to see if I could add to the flock. The house is only 8X8 so not many but I did want a few more. At least a rooster, I like the sound of a rooster crowing and the way they strut around. I also like the colours a rooster often has and the big fancy tail, at least a rooster would give me the feeling of being back on a farm even though I was not. I decided to watch for a bantam rooster, I figured that since a rooster can sometimes put stress on hens and affect the laying, a small rooster would be easier for them to have to put up with, plus I did not want to be attacked when feeding and in the past all my banty roosters were nice. I guess that is because of their small size.