Thursday, March 24, 2016
Chicken Update and Egg Mystery Solved?
Basically we have chickens EVERYWHERE!!! Seriously there are chickens wandering around pretty much the entire compound between the Westernmost yard and the Easternmost pasture area during daylight hours. They typically do not travel very far from the structures however and generally stay within 20 to 30 yards of the outbuildings. They especially love parked vehicles and the various Small-Hold trailers. They do get a little too close to the road sometimes but usually a large truck will come screaming down and scare the whole lot of them back into the barn before they are out there long.
I have noticed that the Red sexlinks from the poultry barn are mostly just stupid while the others we have appear to be a bit more survival smart. However a couple of the Reds have actually began acting more like the original home raised birds now while a few seem to be just loners but will now come out of the barn and wander around.
Despite their stupidity they have a certain cunning when it comes to food. They can literally smell me moving something from the other side of the place and will come running to eat pillbugs and worms. They pretty much have replaced the cats in the supervisor role and generally keep the felines scarce during daylight hours too. As an experiment I started pulling wood grubs and beetles out of the wood when I am splitting and just randomly throwing them around rather then trying to toss them where a hen can see em. These hens have some type of bug radar though and will pick up on a grub or beetle from yards away. It's actually pretty impressive.
Rocky on the other hand is letting his fame go to his head. Since I started my new job my son has taken over the morning feeding for me and Rocky has been getting aggressive with him and (reportedly) with my mother as well. In order to combat the aggressive rooster my son has started taking the dog with him in the morning which has put a stop to his shenanigans as the dog won't put up with it. Rocky hasn't made a move towards me in any way and still runs whenever I approach him however if I do have to shoo him away or walk in his direction too far he gets frustrated and will take it out on a nearby hen to kinda prove his dominance I guess. He will also come running to where ever I am working to see if one of his hens is close so he can attempt to force them to leave. If they don't leave he will mount em kinda roughly.
If he gets too aggressive with us or the hens his days will be numbered. Roosters are a dime a dozen around here and although he is pretty and entertaining I won't hesitate to open a position for a new rooster if needs be.
Chicken-Burger is basically a loner now. She allows Rocky to have his way with her occasionally but is usually just off doing her own thing away from others. She has also taken to roosting in the very top rafters of the barn rather than the coop/stall with the others. She also is the leader in the egg hiding department and moves her nest constantly but is followed by a few others pretty quick. So far I haven't noticed any hens laying outside of the barn but I keep checking to be sure.
We are averaging about 17 to 18 eggs a day from the 26 hens now. We did lose another Red Sexlink hen last week to natural causes I guess. I thought she was sleeping in the sun but when I went back later she was dead. That means we have only lost one chicken since November when one ran out in front of a car. I keep their feeders full at all times but allowing them to free range has kept us from using even a full 30 pound bag all Winter. They just prefer the other stuff.
Now for the great egg mystery. Since it's been warmer and I been spending more time around the barn I have managed to observe the hens laying a lot more and actually been able to witness them leaving their eggs behind. From the two Easter Eggers I am getting all shades of blue to green eggs. They are NOT the same color each time they lay but will vary in hue. The other hens (except Chicken-Burger) will lay eggs from almost white to dark brown but again the shades will vary from the same hen one day to the next. This perplexed me because many claim a hen lays the same color egg each time so I went to the closest thing I have to a chicken egg guru around here and this is what she told me.
There are actually only two colors of chicken eggs. White and Blue. Hens will either be a white egg layer or a blue egg layer but the tone can vary from day to day. Apparently diet plays some role in the egg shell hue and free range hens will show more hue variance than those kept in a pen and fed the same type of feed all the time. So one day I get a dark brown egg from a hen and the next I get an almost white one from the same hen. The Easter Eggers will give me a vivid blue egg one day and then an almost olive colored one the next.
Now I am no expert of course but I have witnessed the same hens lay different shades of eggs from one day to the next so there must be something to her explanation. I guess.
My guru had no explanation for the mysterious white with black speckled egg I get occasionally though but she did say that it maybe an odd hue variance from Chicken-Burger has some people have reported her breed laying a specked egg. She also said the pink hue was just a variance on the white color.
One thing I do know about these chickens though. Wood chips and free range chickens are not a good combination if you expect to keep the wood chips and mulch contained. A layer of wood chips calls to chickens like grain to a flock of sheep but the sheep don't typically throw the grain everywhere with their hooves.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!!!!