“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Socializing Hens

Yesterday was a nice, leaf peeping trip to Meyersdale, PA to pick up four new pullets. Just arrived and confused.
Before you Google map it - yes- its a long way to go for four hens, but these are locally raised and ready to lay. Twenty weeks old on October 7th. When I first wanted pullets six years ago, I went to David Suder and was happy with what I got, so I keep going back. Otherwise its mail order or a huge search. Plus, I finally know how to find his farm, and its a nice drive.
Getting ready to roost their first night in the barn.
For those that want to know, if you hatch an egg and get a hen, twenty weeks is how long you have to wait for your first egg. That's a long time. We raised the Araucanas from day olds and that was experience enough for me. David Suder raised 12,000 chicks to 20 weeks this year, so that he sells me a mere four is great.
As you have seen, our hens are free range, happy girls. But that does not happen overnight, so the new hens will spend a little time moving in and out of the barn in the dog crate. These hens seem pretty calm, which is a good start.
Also, to avoid any ugliness in the joining of the two groups, they are being socialized for a while. As with all animals, hens have a pecking order, and in their case, they peck each other to figure it out. One sign of blood or weakness, and we can have a dead or injured chicken.
So instead of the usual feeding in the trough, I am putting the food along the edge of the crate This way, both groups are eating together, but with a barrier between them. So far the only bickering has been amongst the older hens. Also, I want the new hens to get wise to the barn cats, especially Snickers. She has actually gone after a couple of the hens lately. We want her to hunt, but there's plenty other stuff out there.

So lets see when we get a first egg from this crew. They were outside all day eating grass and feed in the sun. That's about as good as it gets for them.


No comments: