Rollercoaster Mum: Nov 7th - #NaBloPoMo - Post 7 - Chicken Wars

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Monday, 7 November 2011

Nov 7th - #NaBloPoMo - Post 7 - Chicken Wars

As some of you may know from reading other posts (or from my twitter tag @chickensandkids) we have chickens. I have wanted to write a post about them for some time but this is the first one - bit slack I know.

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!

10 comments:

  1. I've always fancied chickens and the bigger garden to go with them. Yours has obviously been a complicated journey - hope they all settle happily. Love the names too.

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  2. Gosh, all so complicated. I'd love to have chickens but we have no garden and they're not allowed on our allottment ;-(

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  3. I love chickens. I don't have any myself but my neighbour does and when they go away (a frequent occurance in the summer) I get to chicken sit - lots of lovely free range eggs :)

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  4. We do really enjoy our chickens but they have created a few stressful moments! Our neighbours chicken sit ours when we go and I think they appreciate the eggs. There is nothing like finding a freshly laid egg - the kids still get excited about it. Shame you're not allowed them on your allotment Fiona. Our garden is pretty small Gemma - they don't need a massive amount of space - glad you like our curry themed names!!

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  5. I have wanted to keep chickens for AGES! I have never heard of chickens attacking each other before though - not sure how I'd cope with that. But I did learn a lot from this post - thank you so much!

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  6. Hope I haven't put you off having chickens!

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  7. Oooo we want an eglu!
    We kept chickens in a standard wooden chicken house and run but it became infested with mites and despite all our efforts the chickens began to die :(

    Next time we're opting for an Eglu - do you recommend one ?

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  8. Yes I would we do love our eglu - very easy to clean - but possibly better with only 2-3 chickens unless they have a bigger run as well.

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  9. We have an Eglu too and love the simplicity and the ease of cleaning. Only two chickens which is a nice number for us. Which farm did you go to when you bought more? Sounds like you have a good variety of hens. I hope all tension has disappeared now and they are all friends.

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  10. We went to Golden Valley poultry near Godalming last time. The tension has gone now - although original 2 are def still top of the pecking order - but now we have a poorly chicken (one of the new ones) - she's still eating and drinking but can't stand properly - taken her to vets but they haven't been much help so feel a bit useless really - not sure what to do for her. We have separated her to avoid more bullying but don't know if we can ger her better :(

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