We started keeping chickens back in July 2009. My husband had been unemployed for a while and we were fed up with life. We had wanted chickens for a while and oldest daughter in particular was desperate for a pet of some sort. A dog wasn't practical, OH can't stand cats and I refuse to have rabbits, guinea-pigs or anything I will end up cleaning out so chickens it was. What could be better than productive pets.
We purchased an Omlet Eglu - we liked the idea that it was easier to clean and we got three chickens to go with it - Korma, Tikka and Bhuna. Korma and Tikka were brown Rhode Island hybrids (Gingernut Rangers) and Bhuna was Black rock type (a Little Miss Pepperpot). Our first egg arrived within a week and we were hooked.
|We have chickens!|
|Is that a chicken?|
These first three chooks did prove to be problematic though - Bhuna went broody for weeks and was just coming out of it when I found her one lunchtime v poorly in the nest box (she had we think been attacked by the others - don't know why - chickens can be like that). A few days later it was RIP Bhuna. The other two got on OK for several months and then Korma suffered a similar attack (although not quite so severe - we tried to save her but failed).
So new chickens were needed - we re homed bully Tikka to a bigger flock with a cockerel and we got Masala, Balti and Pasanda (a Black Rock, a Speckledy and a Light Sussex). These got on well and we were soon back up to full egg production. They survived through all the snow and cold last winter (although they didn't like it much!) and then one very wet day in June I noticed that Pasanda (the Light Sussex) was looking very poorly. We separated her and cosseted her but a few days later she went to the great chicken coop in the sky. She had not been attacked and had nothing immediately obvious wrong but chickens are often very poorly before they show any signs of illness.
|New chooks - Masala, Balti and Pasanda|
So we were back down to two chickens. We kept promising the girls (the kids that is - not the chickens) that we would get some more but somehow we didn't get around to it until about 2 weeks ago. We set off to the chicken farm and had a wander around the fields full of funny looking chickens before choosing our two. We chose another Light Sussex and another brown Rhode Island hybrid so we would have four different colour chickens - easier to identify.
Pathia and Dopiaza joined our small flock. Now, although having had several chickens we had never had to introduce new chickens into the flock before and we were told to just put them in the house after dark when they were all roosting. As it was a long time until dusk we compromised and shut the new chickens in the run and let the others out. This was OK until we opened the door so they could mix and go to bed - the new chickens both escaped - one into next doors garden. After rather a lot of squawking she was recovered and I put them both in the house after dark. The real problems started the next day - we were up to let them out fairly early but we couldn't let them out of the run as the new chickens kept escaping and there was massive amounts of squawking, feathers pulled and even some blood shed. I felt soo guilty about introducing the new chickens - the poor things spent most of the first few days cowering in the house.
|More new chickens! Pathia and Dopiaza|
As soon as we could we built a makeshift roof on the outer run and chicken wars have finally seemed to settle down a bit as we can now let them all out together. They still aren't entirely happy but an uneasy truce seems to have been called, although there is definitely still a them and us situation! Balti in particular seems to be Head Hen and she still likes the odd squawk and flying at the other poor things but they are slowly getting braver. It has been a rather traumatic two weeks for us (let alone the chickens) and I won't be rushing to do it again! Rather belatedly researching introducing new chickens, I would probably do it differently next time and I have also learnt it usually takes about 6 weeks for them to settle down - yikes - 6 weeks - it'll be Christmas before they are friends. Oh well Happy Christmas chickens!