You Little PICKER!

The last 2 weeks have been the most frustrating I have had with my chickens.  I felt like Foghorn Leghorn, ready to grab a paddle, pick up a few bratty Maran cockerels and pullets and whoop their asses, shouting “I’ll spank ya where the feathers are the thinnest!”.

Like I have with all my batches this season, I grow my chicks out in my chicken tractors and I never had a problem.  This time was different.  It all started 2 weeks ago when I went to get all my birds out in the morning, everyone stays in the coop overnight (except my breeding Roos), some are separated in breeding pens.  I went to get my Black Copper Marans and Welsummers out, (who all stay together in a breeding pen at night and the tractor during the day), one Welsummer had feathers missing off the back and a bloody sore.  I immediately separated him and went about my day.  A day or 2 later I went to check on the birds out back and found a dead Maran pullet with her feathers stripped off one side and her tail eaten off. I panicked, what the heck was going on!  I immediately separated the males from the females, putting all the Black Copper Marans and Welsummer boys in one tractor and the BCM and Welsummer pullets in the other tractor.  Everything was fine for a day or two then one morning I found a Welsummer pullet with feathers missing off the back and a bloody sore, I isolated her.  A day later I went to check on the birds out back and almost all the Welsummer cockerels had large patches of feathers cleaned off their backs, a bit of blood and one poor fella had his tail feathers broken off or ripped out and lots of blood.  I got in the car and drove out to the farm store and bought a bottle of “Stop-Pick” ointment.

image

I further seperated the birds, all the Maran boys together, the Maran pullets together and then all the Welsummers together (as the obvious offenders were the Marans). I slathered the Welsummers backs in the ointment (which smells like a dirty old BBQ), to prevent them from picking at each other’s bare backs and sores.  For 3 days I slathered the Welsummers’ backs 2 or 3 times a day, during this time the Marans did not pick from each other.  I put my Splash Maran rooster (Seamus), in with the Maran pullets.  A day or so later I watched them for a bit and saw one pullet intent on pulling some feathers out of Seamus.  I have isolated her and will do so for about 2 weeks, maybe longer.  Then I will put her back in and see if she goes for it again, if she does, she’ll have to be culled.  Some old timers will tell you that once a feather picker, always a feather picker, but because she is young I want to see if a bit of alone time will resolve her bad habit.

image

Now all is calm, the Welsummers are not picking from each other and the Marans haven’t continued with their bad behaviour in their new arrangement.  My new issue is that I have 9 cockerels who won’t be filled out enough before December and I have no where to put them once they get bigger and the weather gets colder.  I have had them on Kijiji for weeks, no interest, i can’t even get anyone to take them for free!

Lesson here is, plan for your cockerels, heritage breeds take at least 6 months to fill out to be table birds and in the Fall no one will want to take them off your hands.  Rule of thumb, do not get straight-run chicks after May, this ensures your cockerels will be ready for processing no later then November.  Any later and the cockerels are filling out in the cold months and their growth will slow down and they will not be putting on any fat.

At this moment, every inch of space I have is filled, and I am picking up 2 new BCM pullets on the weekend.  I will have to make a tough decision in regards to these cockerels 😦

image

I’m not sure what started the whole issue, there are lots of possibilities.  The interesting bit is that once the Marans were separated from the Welsummers, it all stopped.  Maybe Marans don’t play well with other breeds, time will tell.

I continue to learn and I’m really looking forward to next season, because I won’t make the same mistakes I made this one, and that’s really the whole point anyway 🙂

 

P.S. Keep a bottle of Stop Pick ointment in your First Aid kit!

 

 

Advertisements

Cock-a-doodle-doo

Summer is over, the kids are back in school, the neighbouring camp ground has closed its gates for the season, surrounding cottages have packed up…….and now it is so darn quiet, except for the trumpeting of many roosters, I mean many roosters.

We had a great season, lots of our healthy, beautiful birds found new homes, including many roosters. I think after this season that was my favourite part, finding homes for many gorgeous and sweet roosters and then hearing how their new owners love the addition of that roo to their coop. I’d like to think that I changed a few rooster fearing people into rooster loving people 🙂

You know, I never had one compliant about the roosters from neighbouring vacationers, in fact they loved hearing them. (Mind you, our Roos sleep in the insulated garage and I don’t have an issue with a middle of the night screaming roo, thank goodness, or I think I would have some upset folks). The only compliant we got was from some “fuddy duddy” lady who did not like the happy “exclamation” from our goose Jessy, once she comes out of her coop in the morning. In fact, most people said they wished they could hear more roosters about, as they reminded them of simpler times.

image

The filling out of our first batch of birds presented the most gorgeous rooster I have ever seen, he has to be the “Brad Pitt” of the Ameraucana roosters. He is taller and bigger then his father, his feathers are glossy and reflect brilliant hues of metallic green and purple and he has a soft looking face on a massive head and his comb is short and a deep red, he is stunning and I made the quick decision to keep him all for myself! We call him Angus. I found another breeder on the island who is involved in poultry showing, and I am hoping next season that I can purchase some of her gorgeous Ameraucana chicks, these will be Angus’s females when they are grown and I am truly excited about that line in 2018.

image

We were very lucky to be able to acquire a Splash Maran rooster over the summer, he is a lovely boy who doesn’t say or complain much. He is tall and skinny with beautiful powder blue legs. He really loves to munch on clovers. We named him Seamus.
He will very soon have a haram of lovely Black Copper Marans, giving us the opportunity to possibly offer Blue Copper Marans next season (black feathered crossed with splashed feathered produce blue feathered every time). We may also be able to offer our Blue Olive Easter Eggers next season as well with the acquisition of this rooster. Hopefully he will do well over the winter, I am a little nervous because he is so tall and lanky. I give him some corn and other grains with his pellets to try to fatten him up a bit, but he has no interest in them. Fingers crossed for this fella.

image

We kept one of our Blue Olive Easter Egger pullets from this season and wow, is she ever a looker! She is so, so beautiful and we named her Annie.


She laid her first egg yesterday and it is quite a dark olive green colour, and so tiny. It will be neat to see what her following eggs will look like after she’s laid a few. I expect the colour will even out and the eggs will get larger. Below is a picture of the eggs from our Ameraucana, Welsummer, Maran and then Annie’s.

image

As mentioned before, we purchased Welsummer and Black Copper Maran chicks from a breeder in Nova Scotia in July. We did very well and have more pullets then cockerels. I am very excited about watching them fill out over the remainder of this year and I’m excited about their potential next year.

Our Welsummer rooster Cletus (my daughter calls him a giant marshmallow because he is such a sweetie), had a bit of a health scare this summer (I think he ended up with a bit of sour crop, as after I purged his crop, he recovered immediately). But, it got me thinking about how we suddenly lost Ragnar earlier in the season, leaving us without a breeding Splash Maran roo, and I don’t want that to happen again. So I have joined forces with a breeder in Fredricton, NB and he us going to send me one of his Welsummer cockerels in exchange for an Ameraucana cockerel. This is an exciting match for us because there are very few Welsummer breeders in Canada, together we can continue the Welsummer chickens in the Martimes by helping each other out with clean blood lines.

So let’s count, I have Charlie, Angus, Cletus, Seamus and another roo at the end of the month, that makes 5 and I have room for 3. What the heck kind of craziness am I getting myself into!

You’ll find out….keep checking onto our blog for updates.

Happy September

(P.S. They are predicting a holy hellish winter here in the Maritimes, long live fall!)