Monday, 26 November 2012

Incubation dos and don'ts

What better way to spend a lazy Sunday morning than dust bathing in the sunshine -- with your sister and her chicks.

These two first time mums are doing a great job. 

Last year they were both good aunties; and now that they've been allowed to hatch some chicks of their own they've turned it into a bit of a team effort.

Look at the tail feathers on the little black chick.  That's definitely a pullet! 

If you have girls setting eggs this season a few rules to follow:
  • Ensure they have water they can dip their underside in (not just your usual drinkers) -- they may need to raise the humidity in the last few days before the chicks hatch
  • Remove the water dish when the eggs begin to hatch or fill it with stones -- chicks can easily drown
  • Ensure you clean up the broody's horrendous smelling poo every day -- it will attract flies which can then make her flyblown as her skin is fragile after spending week incubating the eggs
  • Don't feed her a diet too high in protein
  • Ensure she has access to plenty of fresh greens
  • Dust her chest and under her wings with Pestene when she begins to incubate then again once the hatching is over
  • Remove any eggs that fail to hatch within 72 hours of the first chick hatching -- she needs to get the chicks out and drinking; don't sacrifice their health and well being on a 'maybe' that hasn't hatched yet
  • It's the longest 21 days of your life but don't interfere with the hen in the last few days -- picking her up to check the eggs will just spoil the perfect humidity and temp she's working ahrd to achieve
  • Enjoy!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Gold! Gold! Gold!

It has been a while between posts so there's much to report on...

Introducing the first ever gold designer backyarders.

There is a silver laced on the left for comparison, but her brothers and sisters are the first gold laced.

They're going to a lovely garden in Montmorency when their mother decides they're big enough -- right now they lift her right off the ground when they snuggle up for a nap.

I splashed out on new accommodation this season for the broodies to sit in peace and raise their babies for the first few days.

The problem with keeping them separate is that when they all head in at dusk there's a bit of confusion about who belongs with who.

It think some of the cousins have been having few sleep-overs but no-one seems to mind.

We have lots of chicks at the moment (I stopped counting at 40) -- but Miss P is making it her business to ensure they all receive an equal share of love, handling and attention.

Note to self: must buy MORE watermelon today.

She cuts it into tiny pieces then rolls it in chick crumble for their special snacks.  I really should plant some as it's costing a fortune.

Speaking of gardening...

Plant mint -- I have discovered that rats and mice hate the stuff, which is great news for us!

Your comfrey and tansy should be growing at a great rate right now too -- as soon as the tansy begins to flower put a bouquet in the layer boxes to make it unattractive to lice and mites.

Mites are cunning little things that only come out at night so the first you'll even know they're a problem will be because the chooks are suffering from anaemia.

Bunnings also have a new triple strength pyrethrum spray that remains effective for 20 days. I bought it on the weekend and am going to make it part of my routine to spray the inside of the chookhouse whenever I do a clean-out -- just in case.

Some of these little lovelies may even be yours if you're on the waiting list.

My plan is to touch base with people this week. Keep your fingers crossed that there are plenty of pullets and not many cockerals.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Heading out into the world.

It is hard to beleive that 6 weeks have flown by and the girls were ready for rehoming on the weekend.
They went to lovely homes but it is always a bit sad to say 'goodbye'.

It was nice to see the little girl at one home pick them up ever so gently and carry them around the garden whispering to them as she went.

I know they'll be happy and loved!

I know they were ready to go. Salt and Pepper being her very predictable self went back to roost in the main chookhouse on the Thursday night before the girls were leaving.
She heads off top roost with the roosters, calling them with her gentle motherly cluck but doesn't look back if they don't follow -- and doesn't go back to collect them.

That's a sure sign that her mothering is complete and they are ready to head out into the world.
I just have to share this!  It's a cake a talented colleague of mine made me for my birthday. She's silver laced (the cake, not the colleague)!

The next chicks are due to hatch on Sunday.  Keep posted for some super cute photos...

Monday, 6 August 2012

Inundated with eggs

This pretty little designer backyarder will help me move through that waiting list. (She's one of yours Denise)

On the weekend my curious 3 year old son was peering through a crack in the veranda and sat bolt upright screaming "Eggs, eggs."

My first thought was blue tongue lizard eggs becasue I know they live under there but to my surprise we pulled out 26 smallish white eggs. It seems Sunflower started to lay a lot earlier than expected.

We might have to change her name to Sneaky.

It was the weekend for finding eggs.  I also found a dozen or so in an old box in the laundry tucked up beside the hot water cylinder.  It kind of made sense to nest there so I have turned it into a proper broody area.

Hopefully the warm, humid environment will prompt a few more hens to sit and hatch some of these gorgeous eggs.

The initial results of the great commercial layer pellet challenge are almost ready for release...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Are you my mother?

This fluffy chicks has no dobuts about who its mother is.

She is the one who keeps it warm.

She warns it if danger threatens.

She teaches it how to behave.

She feeds it every morsel it consumes.

Watch this video to see how, despite sometimes standing ankle deep in food, the chicks wait for their mother to select every speck of food for them.
No incubator or brooder box can every replicate or adequately replace this care and affection displayed by a mother hen.

They look to her for guidance, protection, food and water.

This is why every one of my designer backyarders are hatched, raised and taught by specially selected mother hens. The alternative ways of hatching and raising chicks are too awful to think about.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Here we go again!

This first pipped shell for 2012...

Closely followed by the first chick of the season...

And I knew there had to be more under Daphne when I found these...

They were having a bit of a meet & greet at the back of the mower catcher...

These photos had to be taken in the dark so as to not frighten them or their slightly anxious mother.

There are 9 more eggs in this lot yet to hatch, and Salt&Pepper's eggs should begin to pip in the next few days so an exciting week ahead.

This will help get that waiting list moving! 

Let's all pray there's plenty of pullets and very few cockerels.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Why keep chooks?

Someone asked me the other day, "Why do you keep chooks?"

A picture is worth a thousand words and this one speaks for itself.

The children feed the chooks last night's left overs for breakfast and in return the chooks provide the children with breakfast!

These eggs are an hour old.

We know what has gone into them. They are loaded with Omega3.

They have zero food miles.

My question is: Why wouldn't you keep chooks?