Thursday, 4 April 2013

Birdie Stocktake

The star of the flock our Mille Fleur Cockerel - Caldwell II
(Still a bit bedraggled from his bravely defending the flock but getting back on form.)
See HERE for more information on this.
I decided to change the header photograph yesterday as I realised that one of the Hylines that was pictured was no longer with us.  It made me look at Chicken World with fresh eyes when I went over, and see just who we still had. 
 Going over to clean out the hen houses, give the birds some corn or veggies as a treat or just to top up the drinkers or feeders is a natural thing and I talk to the girls and boys as I go about the jobs in hand, although I am sad whenever we lose a bird, it has become a way of life to lose the odd one every now and then, it does when you have so many, I usually document it on here when we do but just recently we have had a few deaths and numbers have gone down.
Some of them through the terrible weather, which is always harder for the more elderly birds, and some with the fox strikes that we have had recently, this is also caused by the bad weather, when a fox has to eat and feed it's young it will be extra wily in trying to sneak in when our backs are turned. 
We lost our little Bantam White Hen last week while I was away, she had an unfortunate habit of hopping over the electric fence to roam around and was taken by an opportunist fox, the sad little pile of feathers near the fence shows she was trying to get back to safety when it happened.
So yesterday armed with my camera and a good memory I went over to snap just who we do have left.  (I couldn't quite get all the birds in shot so some are representing their sisters.)
3 Black Marans - no names I don't know why, they are just known as 'the gang'

Our eldest Hyline -  Gorgeous Girl
(the only one left of our rescue girls, she's a real character)
1 Amber White - Amber
3 Bluebelles - Belle, Beauty and Brandy
3 Lavender Pekin Bantams - Newbie, Poppy and Daisy
2 Black Maran Bantams - Titch and Tiny
1 Light Sussex Cockerel - Harold
His number one wife - 1 Light Sussex Hen - Harriet
Another Hyline - Mother Goose
(she hatched and raised the geese and as you can see is still busy playing Mother she is nearly always to be found sat on eggs!!)
Her children - 3 Chinese Grey Geese - Harry, Larry and Mo
(all girls....phew how lucky was that!)
They are usually to be found together as a group, but if I'm in Chicken World Larry and Mo hang out together ...
.. and Harry is to be found at my feet, or following close behind me.
So the Birdie Stocktake has revealed we have 20 birds.
10 full sized Hens
5 Bantam Hens
2 Cockerels
3  Geese
So Chicken World is a slightly emptier place than it used to be but they are all getting on well at the moment.  Harold doesn't like Caldwell near his 'girls' but with 5 bantam hens to choose from Caldwell has been able to gather together his own little harem with some sneaky moves when Harold wasn't looking now that he is almost back to normal.
We are currently getting about six hens eggs, one or two bantam eggs and at least one goose egg every day, so we have enough for our own use and we can sell between two or three dozen a week, which means this pays for the feed and supplies for all the birds.  At the moment we charge £1.30 for half a dozen hens eggs (we eat all the bantam eggs so the eggs we sell are similar to 'large' supermarket eggs) and £1 for two goose eggs.
It's lovely having our own chickens and although we have a lot less than we used to when we sold at Farmers Markets, our top ever figure was 50, it's nice to be still 'in the business' of supplying others with good free-range eggs.
I don't think I will ever be without chickens in the future, even in a tiny garden I would keep two or three.  If you have a bit of time for them they make lovely pets, you simply can't beat cuddling a chicken, and the taste of a freshly laid hens egg for breakfast makes it all worthwhile.
Sue xx


  1. End of the year, ive been promised ill have 4 of my own. I cant wait. Going to a farmers fair on weekend just i can look at them. The geese have such elegant necks. Love the new banner.

  2. We just haven't room and anyway, apart from our raised beds, the garden is all gravel (the only way to grow things here as allegedly, we are the driest county! It must be nice though to have fresh eggs 'on demand'.

  3. I loved reading about your chooks! They make the BEST pets!

  4. A wonderful post Sue,I have 4 chickens-MY GIRLS,I live in a house of males,need I say more.I love sitting with them and they follow me around everywhere.I have room to have more,but don't need anymore eggs so it would be to only sell eggs if we have more.I keep getting nagged to have more so your post has been helpful.

  5. Lovely catch up Sue. I've always liked reading about your flock & I love Harry Larry & Mo !
    Miss my girls but won't have any more ( yet )

    And I'm so glad that Caldwell has recovered and is holding his own with the ladies again. All down to your good care I'm quite sure.
    Welcome back Sue x

  7. Lovely post! Particularly admiring your Lavender Pekins - I'd quite like some of those! We've got four chickens at the moment - two Cotswold Legbars (Sandy and Whitestuff), and two French Morans (Scaredy-Cat and Josephine).

    The two Morans are nearly four though, and not really laying...can't bear to dispatch them, despite everyone teasing me for being soft.

    Do you guys ever 'see off' a chicken if she's no longer producing?

    1. We never 'see off' a chicken for no longer laying, they live out their retirement with us, indeed we bring in some rescue birds whenever we can, after a year of laying less and less they just enjoy life. Older hens are usually good to have as part of a larger flock as they are more laid back and calm, they can help keep cockerels in their place by making them show respect so it nurtures a happy flock. Younger more insecure birds are usually happy to mix with them too.

      Of course there can always be the exception to the rule and sometimes they can be a bit grumpy, but we have never had this happen to us.

      The only birds we have ever despatched are in pain and we feel it kinder to wring their necks here than put them through the trauma of travelling to the vets. (Lovely Hubby has been shown the correct way to do this on one of our chicken courses).

      Our birds and all our animals are part of the extended family and stay with us for all their lives.

  8. I love reading about your little flock, my grandaughter no longer has any chickens as the landlord sold the spare land they used. I'm really lucky to be able to get my eggs fresh from the farm gate where the chooks come to the fence to see who you are and make me feel guilty for taking their eggs lol I pay £1 for 6 but would be happy to pay a bit more, you just can't beat a really fresh egg.... no pun intended!

    Karen x

  9. I would love to raise hens, but the start up costs seem a bit high to me?

    Gill in Canada

    1. It can be done extremely cheaply.

      You can convert part of or all of an old shed for their use, all they really need is a draught-free place with a small door for their use and a large one for you to be able to get through to clean it out. Put in enough perching bars for all your chickens to sit on at night, these can be made out of chunky wood or even branches from trees.

      A nesting box is good to encourage them to lay in one place, this can be made very simply from any high sided box or even by using a corner of the house and placing extra bedding in there. Bedding can be shredded or sheets of newspaper if that's all you have.

      A fenced area is good and safer for the birds but not essential if you only have a couple of birds and do not mind them free ranging in your garden. Their feed can be put down daily, we started off using metal pub trays that we picked up from car boot sales for £1 each, these are still in use to this day, five years later, when we need to put down corn and the land is too muddy or wet for them to find it. Water can be put out for them in old bowls from the house.

      It can be done cheaply and using things that you find around the house and garden. They really don't ask for much and give so much back in return.

      We started off with 10 rescue free rangers that cost us £2.50 each and a home made house and run. We only worked our way up to 'posh' henhouses and feeders etc when we knew we were in this for the long term.

  10. A lovely but bittersweet update Sue.

    It is something we would consider when I go part time or retire.

    These eggs will certainly help your housekeeping challenge.

    Sft x

  11. Lovely update..sad but we have to accept the circle of life eh?
    I keep 3 chickens in my small garden (Yolko & Mo the polish bantams & Fernanda the Araucana cross) and they never fail to make me smile daily. How could you not feel loved when they run to greet you every time you step out of the back door :o)

  12. Caldwell looks remarkably like my blind rooster cogburn.....very handsome....

    Lovely to see the breakdown....

  13. I must say Harold looks very suave. :)


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