A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine known as Green Dean was wondering why on earth his chickens were squabbling more than usual. Not to mention they were gobbling more feed down than ever before. A head count soon revealed the suspected truth: five extra chickens! Someone, somehow had taken it upon themselves to surreptitiously swell his flock of 13 to 18. Now on acreage that may not have been such a bad thing, but on an urban block it posed a problem. An increased feed bill, potential quarantine issue and introduction of infection or infestation was not a happy prospect so the chooks needed to go to a new home.
I had been thinking of getting new chooks even before the loss of Wheelie about a month ago. Declining egg production in my ageing flock meant we were nearly running out of eggs over winter, with the eggless period stretching for longer and longer each year. The dilemma of ethics was what had delayed me increasing my flock thus far - to buy fertile eggs for the Cluck Monster and risk hatching a rooster; to buy sexed pullets or point of lay in heritage breeds; to rehome unwanted chooks from RSPCA and end up with more chooks without really solving the eggless period. All this resulted in persistent pondering rather than decisive action.
Hearing of Green Dean's conundrum provided a solution. He estimated the chooks to be less than a year old and he wanted all five to go together. I had the space and was prepared to quarantine and feed them while they got used to my existing flock.
|The new chooks not too impressed after their car trip|
Quarantine aside, the only problem with the whole flock escaping has meant that the five of them now gang up on my existing 3 chooks when it comes to food time. They are slowly starting to integrate with my 3 now beginning to challenge Hopscotch for food but the two flocks stay separate during the day. Although one of the five laid an egg while I was collecting them, we have yet to find any more. Perhaps once they're settled in and finished their moult we will have eggs again.
|Here's hopscotch - she's a little darker than the others|
|Feathers McGraw (after the penguin in The Wrong Trousers) Her comb extends over her head making it look a bit like she's an imposter with a rubber glove stuck on her head|