Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Update

Our chickens are mostly all doing fine.  Many of them are finishing up molting now, and egg production is way down.  It's getting very cold here, I don't know why chickens molt at this time of the year.  If I was a chicken I'd want to molt in the heat of summer.
Here's Freckles - she was the first adult hen that we bought who came with a batch of chicks.  She was a great mother to those babies, she taught us alot, and she never went broody since we have had her.  We would have let her raise more chicks if she wanted.  We thought she was old when we got her, but she's still doing fine.  She's the wildest of all our chickens, since we didn't raise her.  Freckles has a special place in my heart; she's the old wise woman in our flock.
Freckles, our original hen
Here's Bella, one of Freckles' chicks.  Bella goes broody all the time and has always raised our guinea keets for us.

 Muffin is the best rooster I've ever known.  He's a hard working man.  He feeds his hens, he protects them when needed, and generally does everything he can for the flock, taking care of himself last.  He doesn't like other roosters, but tolerates Leggy, his assistant.  The other (new) roosters are enemies.  In the springtime Muffin likes to push me around, but I've learned how to manage him and we both really love each other deep down inside (even in the springtime when it appears he wants to fight and kill me and I'm taking the broom to him).  I like to hold Muffin in the evening inside the coop to keep him tame.  He always tries to peck my eyes out; I've learned to keep a hand on his head when he's being held.

Muffin, the lead rooster
This summer we got 4 Cuckoo Maran and 4 Rhode Island Red chicks.  We didn't know the sexes of the chicks- we picked them out of a big box at the local farmer's market.  We ended up with 2 Cuckoo Maran roosters and 4 Rhode Island Red roosters!!!  The Cuckoo Maran  roosters have just started crowing. So far we haven't seen the Red roosters crow yet.  One of the 2 Cuckoo Maran hens has laid an egg this week - our first dark brown egg!  But it was broken open and made a mess in the nestbox.  This week we gave the 2 Cuckoo Maran roosters to a friend, and once we prove to ourselves that the 4 Reds are roosters, they too, will have to go...  

Cuckoo Maran rooster

Rhode Island Red rooster
Cuckoo Maran egg in upper left of basket broke in nestbox - first Cuckoo egg!!

I always take my favorite hen, Lucy, out to scratch for worms outside the chicken pen.  Lucy is so sweet and works so well with me when we look for worms, and she comes to me when called, she never runs.  If I don't watch her, Lucy tends to sneak out of the chicken pen when I leave the gate open.  She'll push the gate open if it's pulled closed but not locked.  But she doesn't run away, she just walks a couple feet and stops and scratches for worms.  She would be fine living separate from all the other chickens, she's very independent.

And that's all from the chickens today!
Have a nice day!


Kessie said...

Aww, your girls are so sweet. My chickens always molted right when it got cold, too. Some of them would "explosion molt", and all their feathers would fall off all at once and they'd be naked for a few weeks. I always felt so sorry for them.

Farm Girl said...

I love the update on your chickens. I love chicken posts. I wish I could have gotten a Cuckoo Maran rooster. I love my 3 hens. I would love to have a whole flock. They are the best natured little hens. Though my Welsummers lay dark brown eggs too and really are better layers. I am down to 20 hens now and I am getting 3 eggs a day.
I have wondered why the poor things molt in the winter too. It breaks my heart to see them just freezing and no feathers.

LindaG said...

You all have a great day, too! :)

Chai Chai said...

I've been thinking about giving the hens here some kelp and cat food to get more protein into them - what do you think?

It is getting very cold already and the hens need feathers - bad!

Carolyn Renee said...

I never understood the moulting in winter thing either. Mine are looking reeeaaalllly pathetic. Like I should go and knit them sweaters or something.

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

How nice to meet your chickens! It's a good reminder that I've introduced a couple of mine but not all. I should get busy with that:-) I chose Sex Links this year rather than hatch out my own because I do not want another rooster. Toby is a good boy most of the time, although I struggle with him in the Spring too. More roosters is just too much for me to deal with. Fortunate that you found a home for yours.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Being new at raising chickens, I don't understand the molting as the weather gets cooler. Is it that then they grow in more down-like feathers to keep them warm?

Razzberry Corner said...

Kessie - Molting speed and type is genetic. Chickens are bred to molt fast and get it over with quickly. Or so I've read. It's bad when a chicken molts slowly, because then she doesn't lay eggs for a while. I've read not to raise the biological eggs from bad molting hens. So I think the ones that do the "explosion molting" would be good chickens because they get it over with, right???

Farm Girl - Our Cuckoo Maran hens keep breaking open their eggs and eating them. What's up with that? I'm thinking maybe the shell breaks somehow by mistake, and once it's broken, then, well, minds well eat? Or maybe someone else eats it once it's broken. I put more calcium in the food yesterday. ...The Cuckoo roosters were very rough with our little bantam hens in the sex dept. They really didn't know how to have sex, but they'd get a hold of the hens neck and the hen would jump around - she didn't want sex, and eventually the hen got tossed around like a volleyball, with the roo still biting her neck and the hen screaming the whole time. All the other roos would come running and start a general "throw down" in the pen. It was too much, the 2 extra roos had to go.

LindaG - Thank you! You too!

Chai Chai - That always helps. We also found some chicken food that had extra protien. It was for show chickens and other show poultry. It was supposed to make their feathers shiny and pretty and thick. Our chickens loved it and it really made them grow in FAST!

CR -My chickens HATE to wear clothes of any type. They like to be in the buff! I've tried! :)

Denise - Oh yeah, I've struggled a lot with roosters. But I've come to understand them now, and therefore I tolerate their behavior because I know they are doing their job, they can't help it. And in the springtime, I carry a broom with me in the pen and coop.

CAGrammy - Chickens lose their feathers and grow new ones in the autumn. The down, the outter feathers, all of it. Some birds totally lose all feathers so that their skin is showing, some only lose feathers a little at a time. Some grow in new feathers fast, some take months. It's all genetic, I believe - the speed of the molt and how many feathers at a time are lost. Some of my birds have a really bad time picking at their new feathers - they pick them out as the new shafts grow in! :( If a bird has already lost feathers due to a rooster, the new ones will grow in during the molt. I had one hen that was naked from rooster activity for like 6 months until her molt. And, during the molt, egg production slows way down, as the birds are using all their energy to grow new feathers, not make eggs.


Knatolee said...

The chickens are all looking great! Glad to see Lucy doing well too. Mine are all out free-ranging with the ducks right now. Gordon and the dogs have been out there all day keeping an eye on them.

Love the little video!

I've got a broody hen right now who won't listen to me when I tell her winter's coming!

Robin said...

Most of our hens have molted already. Our egg production from the older hens is down too. I have a feeling that come next year it will be time to retire them.