Charlotte's Chickens: new girls on the block

Three newbies waiting for release

Three newbies waiting for release - Credit: Archant

Charlotte has some new arrivals

My differently coloured eggs

My differently coloured eggs - Credit: Archant

A few of my older hens have passed away recently so am always on the lookout for hens that might need new homes. I found a family whose hens were causing problems by free ranging into a graveyard next door and had been told off by those responsible for maintaining the land. The family didn’t like keeping their hens locked up in a run so I offered them a new free-ranging life! They have now arrived: a large Light Sussex hen who is about four years old and two ISA Warrens who are extremely friendly and rather pushy as the brown hybrids often are! They will have to stay in their own hutch and run for several days; this is a quarantine period in case they are carrying any diseases. I think this is unlikely as they look very healthy and are just itching to get out. There were immediate fights through the wire with my hens which were quite amusing to watch. My hens didn’t really need to pick a fight since their large area of free-ranging land was not being compromised! The family were hugely comforted to see that their hens would hopefully have a very happy life with me; the one drawback for these hens is they will have to get used to my cockerels – one has to remember that many hens are kept for years without knowing about cockerels!! I’ve had eggs from the newbies already so they were not too disturbed by the move!

Ice cream making

It’s been a great month for eggs but as always I have to increase my ice cream making and find more people who might like to buy my eggs. Of course they are very useful as little gifts when visiting friends! The colour of my egg shells does seem to be important; people, on the whole, like my dark brown shells best, followed by my blue/green shells from the Araucana crosses. The least popular colour is white, which is quite bizarre – of course in America white is the most popular colour for egg shells! Why is it I can never sell small eggs? Everybody wants eggs as large as possible, even though I think my bantam eggs are rather special with their proportionately large egg yolks! I use my small eggs for cooking and admittedly you have to work out how many to use in a cake recipe that uses three large eggs but it’s perfectly feasible!

Hen with eye looking a lot better

Hen with eye looking a lot better - Credit: Archant

A recovered hen

One of my beautiful Silver Duckwing Welsummers had a swollen eye for many months. Her face was so badly puffed up that you couldn’t really see her eye. She seemed healthy in all other respects. Miraculously the swelling has completely disappeared and her eye is pretty much back to normal. I am not sure whether she can see clearly out of the eye but I am so glad that she has recovered and is laying well!

Going broody

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My trusted little Orpington hen, Florrie, is sitting on eggs, due to hatch soon, but many of my hens would not make good mothers so I have to be very selective. My Fayoumi crosses keep going broody and I have to put a stop to it. I was not expecting my little black Ayam Cemani to go broody; but she is very persistent and I have had to put her in my special airy coop to try and break her maternal instinct. This coop has air circulating around it and should cool her down and stop her broodiness.

Green vegetation

This is the best time of year for your girls with an abundance of green stuff growing out there. Grass is a must, of course, and this is most nutritious at this time of year. Hens will peck at the growing tips. Although chickens will decimate grass if confined in a run, it seems my 40 odd hens cannot keep the grass down in my paddock, which is about ¾ of an acre. The grass is growing longer and longer while I wait for five sheep and their lambs to appear. These are being loaned to me, which in theory means I won’t have to mow the field. Whilst hens won’t eat your nettles they absolutely love chickweed, will peck at dock leaves and other green weeds. It’s the carotenoids in all this green vegetation that will help to make your egg yolks such a deep yellow colour.