Let Me Introduce You…3

Let Me Introduce You … Part 3

 You have already met my main breeding flock, but I have a few other members to introduce you to…

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Angus: This lovely boy is a son of Charlie’s from last season.  I had lots of little boys left over from my experiment into offering pullets and once this lad hit about 15 weeks old, he stood right out.  In comparison to his other brothers, he was remarkably handsome: he was much taller, completely black and his feathers had a higher gloss to them, his comb was bigger and more red and his eyes were big and his face more appealing.  I watched him closely to see if his behaviour matched his good looks and I was so happy to see him defending hens from his brothers and respecting his father’s space and authority.  I even watched him show some hens some treats and allowing them to eat before himself.  There was no way he was leaving us, I would keep him, I didn’t know the how’s of keeping another rooster, but I would figure it out.  His brothers are gone now and he and his father run the main coop together, he continues to respect his father’s authority and by doing so, Charlie tolerates him very well.  I think it is important to have your main roo “teach” a willing new cockerel his ways, so that if something were to ever happen to him, you have a good replacement.  Charlie is an exceptional rooster and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have him nurture his own offspring to hopefully be almost as good as he is.  I have ordered a new bloodline of Ameraucanas from another breeder and hope to have a new line with Angus next season.  This season I may use Angus to help out with some Olive  Easter Egger chicks.  Unfortunately for all the other hens in the coop, Angus has a serious girlfriend, and you’ll meet the lucky lady in a moment.

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Seamus:  Last year we had a lovely Splash Maran rooster named Ragnar, he was a gorgeous boy and we bred him to a few of our Ameraucanas and we hatched the most beautiful Olive Easter Egger chicks.  Early in the season I went out to the garage in the morning and very sadly found Ragnar dead in his bedtime crate.  We were all devasted, and I had no warning that anything was wrong with him.  His offspring all grew into amazing birds, his girls were beautiful and his boys were all big, strapping lads who each were gentle and sweet.  I sold all his boys to good homes and easily found homes for his girls.  When you cross a black feather to a splash feather you get a blue feather every time, and they all proved to be stunning, I wanted to have another Splash Maran roo, but they are not that common, or easy to find. As the Law of Attraction would have it, a lady contacted me via my ad for Guardian Roosters to purchase an Ameraucana rooster, but she had a proposal, she had a few Splash Maran roosters and wondered if I’d do a trade.  So, this is how Seamus found his way to our place.  He is a bit of an odd duck, he doesn’t have much of a personality, but he is very gentle, not at all aggressive.  He is very tall and lanky and has lovely powder blue legs.  He does not like being held and it is no fun carrying him from place to place because he is very strong and likes to flap his giant dragon wings, I can’t believe he hasn’t knocked out one of my teeth yet, although he has given me a few fat lips 😁  I called him Seamus because he absolutely loves clovers and I wanted to give him a proper Irish name. Hopefully he will not be too much of an oaf and he can get the job done so we can hatch out some lovely OEE chicks this season.

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Dottie:  We got this little lady when we got Ragnar, she is a Blue Maran and she is tiny, but boy can she lay a big egg.  She is a funny little hen and a complete slag!  We forgot how beautiful she was until after her moult this past fall 😆. We matched her with Charlie last year for some Olive Egger chicks and all of her hatchlings were boys, and ironically they were enormous!  Her boys were also gorgeous, as they were blue, but also had layering feathers of various shades of tan and yellow.  They were also very sweet and gentle and I can’t wait to hatch out some more of her babies this season.  Side Note: It is winter and her Hen Apron is already tattered!

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Raven: This lady is Charlie’s very first baby.  Originally we had Charlie, then we got him 2 Easter Egger hens to keep him company.  When spring came we thought it’d be fun to hatch a few eggs, so we built an incubator with a lobster cooler and Raven was the first chick we hatched.  Her mother was a real character!  We had to re-home her because she thought she was the Supreme Leader and would not let anybody into the brand new coop, she would chase them all out.  Not only that, but she would not let Charlie leave her side, if he’d leave, she would through down an epic female tantrum and he’d come running back.  I needed him for breeding, so she had to go!  When Raven gets her spot on the top roost and some brave hen makes the mistake of sitting beside her, she reminds me of her mother as she pitches that poor hen off the roost! Raven does not contribute to our breeding program because she is a hybrid, but she lays lovely green/blue eggs.

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Elvira:  Last season I had one Ameraucana pullet left over and I kept her for myself.  I wanted to see how our Ameraucana line turned out, and she has grown to please me.  She is tall and all black and a really good looking girl, she has started to lay ahead of her mom and aunts and her eggs are a lovely blue.  She presents herself as a sweet hen to me, but I think her coop mates would strongly disagree.  At the end of the day, I finish by cleaning out the coop in preparation for the next day, while I am doing this the hens are sorting themselves out on the roosts.  I dare say each night I have a bit of a chuckle watching her be a complete be-ach to the other hens, particularly the Welsummers. Some of the Welsummers group up on the drop board of the roost at bedtime and I noticed there was a lot of screaming and flapping, and then I witnessed what was going on.  Elvira would jump on the board, lower her head and like a raging bull she runs towards the Wellies, ploughing them off the board like a bowling ball with legs.  She does this every night, then the next day, when I come out to the pen, she runs out to greet me and lets me pick her up and give her a hug.  What can I do?

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Annie:  The moment has now come, please meet Annie, Angus’s one true love!  Annie is one of Ragnar’s babies, I was so sad to lose him and I had lots of reservations for OEE pullets, but I wanted to keep just one of his girls, and she is the one I kept and she is truly a gift.  She is and always has been an absolute sweetie, she lets anyone pick her up and give her hugs, she is such a baby.  She is also Angus’s one true love!  They are always together and at dusk he sneaks past his dad in the coop and sits up beside her on the roost.  When I come in to take him to his crate at night, he tries to look inconspicuous so he can stay with her for the night, it is hilarious!  Annie won’t be contributing to our breeding program because she is a hybrid, but she lays beautiful olive green coloured eggs.  I can only hope that Seamus can help us offer OEE chicks as lovely as Ragnar did ☺

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Incarcerated!

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I currently have 2 naughty hens in lock up due to the heinous crime of feather picking!

My sick beds also double as jail cells when necessary, when you have a bird displaying bad behaviour… lock’em up!

Feather picking is a common infraction amoung our Chicken friends and it is unacceptable.  Feather picking is habit forming and the habit can transfer from bird to bird, and if left alone, can lead to cannibalism, so you want to stop it immediately.  Winter is the time of year when this behaviour rears its ugly head, why… well what would you do if you were stuck with a group of people day in and day out with nothing to do?  We’d pick fights, they pick feathers; they’re bored and they’re irritating each other.

During the winter it is good for them to get outside a bit, they don’t mind a bit of snow and cold.  It is ideal if you have a small door open to the coop that they can come and go as they please.  If you can,  throw some kitchen scraps or chicken scratch on the ground to give them something to do. A variety of options throughout the winter will help elevate those boring winter days.

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Why I Lock’em Up

An old timer will tell you the only way to fixin a feather picker is with the sharp edge of an axe, but I have put so much energy and even money into each bird, that this was not an option.  The first time I had a feather picker, I tried isolating them for a good chunk of time, then I put them back in the coop to see what happened, and behold, no more feather picking.  My reasoning is that when you remove them from the flock for a period of time (solid 2 weeks), they lose their position in the flocks’ hierarchy. Their re-introduction sees them reduced to the bottom of the pecking order and now there are no lower ranking members to pick from and the behaviour stops.  Sometimes, you will re-introduce and the bird will continue, take them back out and isolate again for another 2 weeks, try again.  If the habit continues after that, we’ll you tried…

Cue the executioner!

Let me Introduce You…

When I originally got my Ameraucana chicks, the breeder also had Welsummers, so for variety I ordered 4 Welsummer chicks.  They grew into 1 hen and 3 roosters.  Those 3 roosters were the sweetest roosters I have ever had, not a mean bone in the one of them, I decided to keep one because they were so lovely.  That was difficult, I didn’t know which one to keep and I really don’t know why I have the one I do, but he is wonderful all the same.  The other 2 boys easily found homes.   We named the rooster we kept Cletus and named his sister Henny Penny, but if we were going to breed we needed a new blood line.  We were lucky enough last summer to find a lady in Nova Scotia who had them and we finished the season off with 7 pullets.  In the early fall I had an opportunity to get another cockerel from a different breeder, not wanting to regret passing up the chance, we now have a second rooster, and I am very grateful for that, as you’ll learn.

Let me Introduce You to my Welsummers:

 

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Cletus: My daughter accurately calls him a big “marshmellow”, he is the sweetest rooster ever, not a mean bone on him and not even a little bit aggressive or regrettably assertive either.  Yes, I did say “regrettably not assertive”.  Taking a special interest in roosters has helped me understand their behaviours, this summer helped me understand that there are some behaviours that are necessary in building the most ideal rooster.  A rooster should not be aggressive, but should be assertive.  It is in my opinion the most important attribute be assertiveness, and sweet Cletus lacks this.  His fertility was not spectacular this past season, and he got fired from overseeing the main run as he  was unable to keep a bunch of cockerels in line because he lacked assertiveness.  He is a wonderful sweet character who is adored by each member of this family, so he is safe here, mostly as a pet.

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Merle: We got this young lad this fall from a breeder in New Brunswick.  I was happy to see that even though I did not raise him from a Chick, he was very lovely and sweet.  He is very easy to handle and not at all aggressive.  Down by the Bay Backyard Poultry made a couple TV appearances on the local news and we were also featured in the local newspaper and Merle was the star.  I also put on a Backyard Chickens Informational Seminar in November and Merle accompanied me and allowed several people to hold him.  I will most likely take Merle to the local school when I participate in the Agriculture Department’s education day.  He definitely is assertive, but he needs to work on his romance skills cause his ladies are not big fans of his just yet, they like Cletus better, and I guess if I was a hen, I would like Cletus better too!  I have great expectations for Merle this season!

The Ladies:

Henny Penny: She is Cletus’s sister and she is quite a character. She is a bit of a loner, not in a sad way though, and was the lowest ranked hen, but she has never looked pathetic, never whallowing in self pity. I think she quite enjoys her solitude, not playing fiddle to the hierarchy of the other hens, and staying out of reach of the rooster.  I would enjoy her company some mornings, as she’d join me as I sifted through their bedding to clean up the poop, she’d be happily beside me scratching away.  In the early fall she fell rather ill with a respiratory infection and spent almost 3 weeks in a sick crate in the garage.  Life was miserable for her when she got put back in the coop, she was the target of significant harassment by all members of the flock.  It was difficult, but the only way she could regain any position in the flock, she’d have to  endure and I’d have to leave her to it.  One fantastic day (for her), I introduced the new Welsummer and Maran Pullets to the coop.  I don’t think I have ever seen a happier hen, back to her old self, except now she takes great new found pleasure in being a complete jerk to the newbies, as if she’s earned the right 😉

Vivian: We haven’t had much of an opportunity to get to know our newest members, but this lady has stood out.  She is not at all shy and wants you to notice her.  While you are in the coop, she will get up on the roost so that she is face level with you and you cannot resist picking her up and giving her a bit of a squeeze.  If you find a hen at your feet and it is a Welsummer, you instantly know it is her, it’s always her.  She is a sweet little hen who has very quickly become a family favourite.

Marj and Fern: These 2 ladies are busy trying to fit in and hold their own with the older flock members.  With caution and respect, they approach the food trough and eat quickly, and they’re not afraid to attempt perching on the second level roost, very brave if you ask me.

Lucy, Billy Jean and LouLou: These 3 wee girls are the smallest of the pullets.  They were spending their days seeking shelter from the older members of the flock, who revelled in their smaller stature.  I have since put them in a breeding pen with Merle for the winter so I can ensure they get fair share of food and water.  I must say though, they are thick as theives and band together to stay away from Merle, poor Merle!  Lucy has always been know to curl her feet up and snuggle in when you pick her up.

I look forward to getting to know my newest members better over the new season.