Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Chicken Update and Odd Behavior

I continue to just play catch up on various odds and ends that I put off during the hay harvest. There really seems to be no end to them. Today I gathered up some left over hay from last Winter that was laying around in preparation to get rid of it. I was hoping the remnants of the big round bale would hold together enough for me to dump it into the drainage ditch I have running through the middle of the nag pasture but no such luck. I brush hogged the overgrown failed pumpkin patch hoping it will dry enough in the next few days that I can till it up and leave it sit over Winter and I began making the first marks for the next stage of my never ending fence project.

We actually got three eggs today and sometime yesterday we got another one of those shell-less eggs too. I don't think there is a lack of calcium going on I think the shell-less eggs are the young hens beginning to lay. Or I hope anyway.

The general stress level seems to have bottomed out and I neither see nor hear much bickering out of the hens at all. Rocky struts around like he is king of the universe but seems to only have the four Barred Rock hens fooled into actually caring one way or another. I haven't seen the rooster mount or chase a hen in well over a week. He seems too busy trying to convince the un-impressed hens he is something special and failing. All but the Barred Rock hens pretty much just ignore him.

Each morning the chickens are anxious to be let out of the coop/stall. They are all pressed right up against the door waiting for it to swing open but then most of them just mill around in front of the coop in a little hallway or go to the stall next door and hang out all day. Each of them have a little resting pit dug and all they seem to do is snooze. A few venture out into the main barn area and one or two (including Rocky) will sometimes poke their heads outside but by and large the hens just seem content to lay around all day.

Then about 3 or 4 in the afternoon about half of them will begin wandering out into the barn yard.

I swear they are the laziest chickens I have ever seen.

I know for a fact at their old home the Black hens couldn't wait to run around the yard. When their owner opened that door they were all off and running like crazy birds. Now that they are let out every day I guess the novelty has worn off and they would rather hang out inside snoozing.

The only chicken that constantly seems to be on the move is Littlebit the Hamburg hen. She is constantly poking her head out but never goes far from the barn cover.

I really had hoped to see them out and about more. They do seem to be making a real dent in the various bug populations but honestly before late afternoon you wouldn't even really know there were chickens on the place. Rocky doesn't even crow but maybe once an hour these days either and then half the time he is so deep in the barn you really have to listen to hear him.

Maybe there is just so much rich pickings in the barn that it takes most of the day for them to work their way outside or something? It is a pretty good sized barn and they have complete run of the place as I shut the front door so nothing can get in with them except the sheep through the back. I just find this afternoon only walk about thing kinda strange is all.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!


  1. The occasional soft-shelled egg is fairly common with young hens but, if it continues, toss them some oyster shell.

    Your rooster reminds me of my "Dudley". Originally, I had a dominant, sex-crazed Barred Rock rooster & Dudley (a Speckled Hamberg or something like that). The Barred Rock crowed often & probably spent more time on top of the hens than he did on the ground. I opted to give the hens a break & sent him to freezer camp.

    Evidently, that was a mistake. I let the hens sit on 25-30 eggs this summer & not a one hatched. That told me that my rooster is a dud & he's been Dudley ever since. Hope you have better luck if you plan to hatch a few.

    Keep Preppin'!!!

    1. Anon - Well Rocky used to mount the hens often then after I did in Bullwinkle he started chilling out and then after the hens got comfortable they began ganging up on Rocky. He's a big bird though but I think he got tired of chasing them. I do see him court the Barred Rock hens though so maybe when they get a bit older we might get some chicks from them.

      I have oyster shell out for them in a hanging feeder and they have been partaking as I have used an entire small bag over the last month. As you say and I have read the soft shelled eggs are common with new layers and most all of these hens were not laying yet when I got them. I hope they grow up a bit faster though.

  2. It is hard to figure them out as we had a decline in egg production recently and blamed it on all kinds of things but when I switched food sources it picked back up in a few days. But who knows, light has a big effect on them as well. They may be afraid of the dogs or sheep and only go out in the afternoon because somehow they have figured it is safe in their little brains. Maybe they are just fat and happy after all you are running a welfare system. You could put a radio in and play music or better yet put Rush on.

    1. Sf - Well if they need direct sunlight then perhaps them staying inside all day is the problem. They hide in the darkest stall and even when roaming around in there get little to no sunlight. I open a big door that lets sun into the coop area but that is not where they hang out.

      The damned varmints.

  3. I think Sunny is right, the girls may be nervous about all your other critters, that they aren't wanting to come out. Sunlight and all that stuff plays into the egg production as well, a friend of mine put lights in her coop to trick her hens. While you are doing the oyster shell for extra calcium, are they getting enough protein?

    1. JuGM - Well this afternoon I left the front door open and about half of them wandered out to the front for a little while. They don't seem too frightened of the sheep any longer and they are not a bit concerned about the rams at all.

      I assume they are getting everything they need. Besides the regular feed we give em all kinds of treats, table scraps, and they are constantly eating grasshoppers and crickets that find their way into the barn. Today I saw a hen eat a lizard.

  4. PP,

    I say it's time to chase them all out of the barn, and close the door. Leave them that way until you're ready to chase them back in the barn, lol......

    It sounds to me like it's time for some pot pie, or baked chicken......watcha think??

    1. Sandy - Well I am hoping all of them but Rocky will lay eggs at some point.

  5. Your chicken aren't lazy, they are just Liberals.

  6. Hey, PP, on the shell-less eggs, they need more calcium. Try setting a pan of oyster shell for them. It don't matter what the feed companies say on their labels, their feed is not complete when it comes to calcium. Generally, when young hens start to lay the eggs will be odd shapes or on the small size not usually shell-less, but it can happen. Shell-less eggs are a good sign of not enough calcium in their diets so maybe they just aren't used to your feeder system and a pan would be better for them.

    And don't forget - your hens will need around 14 hours of sunlight to lay eggs. Some people never let their hens get a rest during late autumn/winter and will keep a light on in their coop during the night to keep the 'daylight' hours longer so their egg production never drops. That is why commercial outfits keep their barns lit all night. I figure if the poor things are going to lay eggs for 8 months and even during the hot summer months that they can have a break! Plus they go through the stress of molting, which will stop egg production, too.

    I think your chickens just like the barn. It is cool, safe from predators and there is probably lots of good chicken snacks in there. Chickens will eat mice, snakes and frogs, too, so you never know what they'll find in a barn. And they are probably done hiding their eggs in the barn by afternoon anyways. hahahaha

    Don't worry about your roo. He's just being a roo. Ours don't do too much now anyways cause it is either too hot or cold, the hens are too crazy (due to molting) and they're about to molt, too. Hard to be a studly roo when you are missing your tail feathers and have bald spots with patches of spiky new feathers popping in. Oh, and your roo needs a break, too. ;-)

    1. Hobo - I have oyster shell out for them. Have had it out since day one and they have eaten it. Most of these hens were not old enough to lay yet when I got them and everyone I got em from said the shell-less egg thing was normal when they first start laying. I know they are getting calcium or at least it is available.

      They do like the barn but they are not getting any sunlight which I think is the real problem with the eggs not coming. I have seen em capture a couple of mice and a lizard personally.

      I have checked all over so I don't think they have a secret egg laying place yet but they could be back in the hay bales were I can't get to I guess.


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