Every box of eggs we sell in the run up to Easter will be accompanied by one of these ladies, guarding their clutch.
Keeping the chux in during the avian flu scare has been hard for all of us. The one benefit is that the girls have had to lay in the nest boxes so we’ve been able to collect all the eggs without every day turning into an egg hunt.
Once the restrictions are over, we’ll need to turn our attention to isolating Bilbo and his girls so we can collect hatching eggs. We didn’t breed any chicks last year as 2015’s bumper ‘crop’ of 13 out of 14 incubated eggs caught us on the hop so we were pretty close to the limit when we have to notify DEFRA and become ‘official’. This time we think we’ll only do four French Copper Marans and three Cream Legbar or vice versa.
My ambition to enter a trio into the Llanrwst Show / Sioe Llanrwst has been thwarted for yet another year! Bilbo French Copper Black Marans and Tim “Nice But Dim” Cream Legbar have started to moult. Most of their girls have followed suit, in fact only Jude has no bald patches and she has just gone broody – again – so would probably be disqualified for attacking the judge. Soon, the garden will look like the scene of a giant pillow fight and Megan will be permanently wandering around with a feather or two in her mouth, giving me the abdabs as I think she has been a very, very naughty girl. “Comme ci, comme ca!” as Bilbo would say.
It hasn’t been the greatest start to the year, has it? Not even in our chicken pen.
Lulu, our Black Rock, was looking a bit mopey compare to her normal cheerful ‘beak in everything’ mood on Monday. She didn’t leave the pen at all yesterday so I checked her over and she looked fine, but she refused a handful of corn. I knew that was a bad sign and, sure enough, she died in her sleep overnight. She was our oldest hybrid so it wasn’t entirely unexpected but it’s still a sad day when you lose one of your favourite (don’t tell the others) birds. Still, she had a fab life.
On a brighter note, I’ve just waved off one of my French Copper Black Marans cockerels to a new home up the road. He’s got six girls to look after so he’ll be a happy boy!
Some photos I took on Saturday when the sun was out.
Four of our youngest chicks, French Copper Black Marans. In the photo there are two cockerels and two pullets. The other two girls were chilling out under an azalea bush,
Two of our three month old Cream Legbar cockerels.
The Beekeeper in action!
I have been so remiss in updating this blog, but we have had various visitors and a change in working routine.
Two weeks ago – Tuesday, 28 April – the French Copper Black Marans started hatching. The first five were out by Wednesday midday but one was struggled to crack the shell. We thought it had died several times but it kept moving so eventually we decided to give it a helping hand. The last time we did this it did not end well so it wasn’t a decision we took lightly but, twelve hours after the initial breaking of the shell, the chick emerged. I called it Vi and the following day it rejoined its siblings in the cage. It was a little unsteady for the first day but it’s now caught up, to the extent that I’m no longer able to tell it apart from the others! It will still be some time before we know whether they are girls or boys but at the moment they are all doing well.
Out of fourteen eggs we set in the incubator altogether, thirteen hatched which is pretty amazing.
The Cream Legbar chicks have been relocated to a brand new home in the shed. They were due to come off the heat last Saturday but I’ve kept the light on overnight as it has been a bit chilly. However, they are doing so well that I’m hoping to put them outside at seven weeks.
We also acquired a couple of Brown ISAs (Warrens) to bolster our current egg layers but more about them in a later post.
We candled our French Copper Black Marans eggs at seven days on Tuesday night and, although it’s really difficult to tell with dark brown eggs, we thought all seven may be viable. God help us if they’re mostly boys!
On a sad note, Sonia, one of our Black Rock hybrids, died in her sleep Wednesday night. She and her ‘sister’, Lulu, were chosen for their friendliness and they were always the most delightful, if nosey, birds. They were named after UK contestants in the Eurovision Song Contest, one of the greatest events in the year in my humble opinion. Sonia hurt her leg a couple of weeks ago and, although she appeared to be coping and really enjoyed being made a fuss of, things took a turn for the worse on Tuesday. RIP.