Thursday, August 21, 2008

What, More Chickens?!?

Susan asked, a while back, if the fancy-schmancy chicken tractor might be too confining for the chickens. Well, yes and no. Here's the saga -- to date.

We had started by putting the new little guys in but they seemed to be having trouble figuring out going to roost upstairs and were sleeping in a pile on the grass.

So we moved them to the big chicken house and selected three full-grown hens (the three who were most aggressively picking on our young chickens) as the new occupants of the chicken tractor. They moped a bit but seemed to be settling in. Still we felt kinda bad -- they'd spent years in the chicken yard with the rooster and the other two hens -- and now they were in a smaller space wondering what happened. Hmmm.

Eureka! We decided to try some bantam chickens -- a rooster and six diminutive hens. They'll get bigger but they'll still be half the size of regular chickens. They will lay small eggs (I can't wait to make deviled eggs with them!) and a bonus is that bantams will go broody (sit on a nest for the 21 days it takes to hatch out eggs,) a trait that has been bred out of many full-size hens. We can put big chicken eggs under them and raise our own replacements! If nothing don't happen that is -- don't want to start counting my chickens before they hatch -- or before the bantys get old enough to go broody.

The bantys are really cute -- and they seem happy as can be in their new home. Meanwhile, the three hens are back with their friends after the enforced time-out -- and not near so intent on pecking the young chickens.

I think that the key to having the chickens happy in the chicken tractor is to put them in before they're full grown and used to more freedom. John is building another chicken tractor for Justin and Claui's garden and we'll put three of the young Ameruacanas in. At least that's the plan.

Stay tuned for future chicken updates!
Posted by Picasa


Tammy said...

It's refreshing to read about other people 'wearing themselves out' to make sure the critters are 'happy'. :-) My Mom and Dad used to have banties and Mom always used their eggs for deviled eggs. So cute and so good! Of my first four hens, three were tough little banty crosses, that lived forever! I love your chicken updates, by the way. :-)

Tammy said...

Also, are the banties a certain breed? They are very cute.

Vicki Lane said...

There are four Dutch Browns (the larger older ones all hens) and three Old English Game 'Brassy Backs' (a rooster and two little hens. All are still quite young. I'll get better pictures when they mature.

Susan M. Bell said...

Hey, thanks Vicki. Nice to see how that goes. Maybe the new hens will start standing up for themselves as they grow up. I like the idea of having bantam chickens. I think the hubby would be more open to me getting a small breed as well. Do you ever use their eggs in baking? I imagine there has to be a bit of conversion since they are smaller.

I love the photo of the dog "guarding" the hen house. :)

Vicki Lane said...

These are my first true bantys -- like Tammy, I've had some banty crosses in the past. I'm sure the eggs are just like regular eggs -- you would have to measure to see if it took two or maybe three to replace one regular.

That's Maggie (Elizabeth's Molly) taking an interest in the bantys.

Nancy M. said...

Your bantys brought back memories of a horrible banty rooster that my Grandma had - it would run after me and nip at my heels. I would walk down in the holler to Grandma's house, dreading that banty rooster the whole way. When I got within "hollering" distance, I would holler for Grandma that I was coming and to open the kitchen door (she was always in the kitchen). Then I would take off as fast as I could go. Sometimes he caught up to me before I could get to the door but sometimes I got the better of him! To tell the truth, I was glad when he was gone------he absolutely terrified me and I found it odd, even as young as I was, that he never bothered my sister or two brothers. Mama always told me that my red hair made him run me!

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks, Nancy! Great story!

Fortunately we've only had one mean rooster. He jumped on and flogged a visiting child who went into the chicken yard -- frontier justice was meted out soon afterward by my husband.

Gregory Peck, our current rooster, has long scary-looking spurs but is actually quite shy about people. Good thing.

Anonymous said...

I love chickens!!! And their meat..and their unborn children... >_>