In the past three weeks, our family has had a lot of fun cuddling and caring for our little flock. Each of the chickens now has a name, and because of this they have most certainly been spared from the pot. While we are raising them for purely practical purposes, these beautifully adorned hens have become our pets.
The only two laying are the year old Bantam Wyadottes, each giving us an egg every other day. Our four twenty-one week olds have caught up to and exceeded the size of the Bantams, and three of the four have a very red comb, compared to the pale pink they were when we bought them. This indicates that they are getting close to laying; we are anticipating an egg from one of them any day!
We also have a 15 week old Austrolorp. We were worried that she was getting picked on those first few days because she was younger and smaller, but our Maran has befriended and defended her, and she has since caught up in size to the 21 week olds. She will likely out-grow them too, as Austrolorps can get up to nine pounds!
Learning that Austrolorps are mild mannered and very good layers, we purchased another two last week bringing our flock up to nine girls. They are now eleven weeks, and still smaller than the Bantams, but they have adjusted quickly. The older Austrolorp has become a bit of a mother to them. They follow her around the coop, and she defends them if necessary.
We have let the girls out to free range on the grass the last few evenings, and we have seen a whole new side to their personalities. They have been practicing flying, jumping over little plants, and even each other (not always with great success). The Orpington seems to have made it her mission to be the fly catcher of the group. She chases them with persistent vigor.
Our youngest sprouts have become quite the little chicken ranglers these past few weeks, as you can see. It isn’t uncommon for one of them to be in the coop first thing in the morning, cuddling one or two birds, gently swaying and singing to them. Our youngest is perhaps the most fearless of them all. She is into the coop scooping up two birds in under ten seconds flat.
Have you had an experience with a backyard chicken coop? Any advice for a novice chicken ‘farmer’?