This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Monday, October 13, 2014

chicken update

Its been a long haul getting my two new pullets accepted by my two one-year-old hens. I got the pullets mid-August, mail order from McMurray Hatchery. I think this weekend, two months later, they are finally "getting along".

When the pullets first arrived, I kept them in a large metal dog crate next to the chicken run. Occasionally, I let all the chickens out in the yard to forage. At first the big hens chased the pullets and wouldn't come within 20 feet of them.

Over the next couple weeks they foraged closer together. After a month, they stayed together in the yard unless there was food around. If I put feed out, the big hens would protect it from the pullets, pecking at them and chasing them off.

Every week or so, I put the four hens together to spend the night in the coop. At first, the big hens would keep the pullets crowded into the back corner of the coop on a small perch. They kept them there day and night till I separated them and let them out. Gradually, they let the pullets move around the coop more but protected the food.

Frustrated by slow progress, I worried winter would come or the pullets would outgrow the dog crate before they could all live in the coop. So my husband and I enlarged the run. We added space to make the run about 3 times larger than it was before. At first, I left the old run walls up so I had two separate spaces. I alternated keeping the chickens apart and together and in one run or the other for a week. Then I cut open the old coop walls and let them all hang out together. With the extra space, there is so much room for the little girls to run. I left a small wall and some posts in the center, so there are places to hide. Its all good now. I suppose they knew my old coop was rated for 3 hens and just needed more space.

chicken coop IMG_9952 So the four chickens are getting along, BUT NO EGGS! When I added the new pullets the big hens were laying, but they gradually stopped. And the pullets haven't started laying yet. SO I have NO EGGS! I tell the girls they aren't earning their keep at this rate. I am guessing the problem is either the disruption of adding the pullets or its the fading sunlight. I put a light bulb in the coop. Its on from 6 - 8 am and 4 - 7 pm. I also fixed up the nesting boxes real nice with fancy hay. I put a fake egg (a golf ball) in one box. And now I am waiting.... waiting...

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5 Comments:

OpenID henbogle.com said...

I hope the chickens settle into a new pecking order soon! Ours usually take a week or so to settle into the new order.

I am hoping to connect with you regarding a group trip to the Belmont Victory Gardens. Will you drop me a quick e-mail so I can write to you in more detail?

Thanks,
Ali @ Henbogle

October 15, 2014 1:34 PM

 
Blogger Lara said...

Take heart...they will lay again! Mine stopped laying after a fox frightened them and then again after we moved. Eggs started coming a few weeks to a month later once they had settled down and adjusted.

October 16, 2014 10:12 AM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Ali, I sent an email. I hope it gets to you. If not, you can email me at kathy@skippysgarden.com

October 16, 2014 10:39 AM

 
Blogger kathy said...

Thanks Lara! I am glad to hear its not unusual or something wrong with them. Can't wait til I have 4 laying hens!

October 16, 2014 10:40 AM

 
Blogger lolamako said...

They usually stop laying in the winter/shorter days. Egg laying is VERY hard on their bodies and they need this rest. It will pick right back up as soon as the days start to get longer.

October 17, 2014 1:43 AM

 

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