Saturday, November 27, 2010

Starting production: laying and making whoopie

I bought six pullets and one cockerel from a local farm at the end of May. The ladies are layers. The roo has one job: keep the girls alive.

From May to August they assiduously converted feed to poo. They also learned that when I approach with something in my hand that they will get a delicious treat like a grasshopper or cricket. Amazingly, I still have most of my fingers.

They filled out during late July and early August. The cockerel started to look like a rooster and began crowing. The pullets began to develop fluffy butt and red combs & wattles.

Mid-August the rooster started trying to mate. He first tried to subdue a hen by biting her comb. She shrieked and I chased him off. After several similar false starts he got the hang of neck biting and hen mounting. The hens were confused and just went along for the ride.

About a week later the first hen laid an egg next to the ceramic bait egg in the nest box. It was small, had a pale yolk, and tasted a little "thin". Within a week she was producing great eggs.

Two days after the first, a second hen started laying. She also made a "start up egg" and then settled into a laying routine.

The only hen to deviate from this pattern was the Buff Orpington who had a surprise egg while on the roost. She was the only hen to cackle when laying. The others were either silent of just clucked a little.

The rooster was not idle during this time. Every time a hen came off the nest he was right there for a quickie. At the same time the hens got pretty good at running away, so he has been hit-and-miss with the mating game since September.

Except a detour for illnessand another for a feistysneaky, broody hen, my hens have been producing four to six eggs a day since early September.

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