Friday, August 28, 2015

Calcium for Chickens

Here's the chicken question for all my hen experts/friends.
Do you all give your girls added calcium?
I'm not just concerned with the egg shell quality but also with their physical well being as the calcium is depleted from their bodies.
Is the calcium added to their feed enough?  If I add another form of calcium to their diet, what is too much?

They're only 7-8 months old so I've been told their calcium level should be optimum right now, but I'm assuming that egg production depletes their system even at this age.

I have been saving our egg shells, letting them dry out, and grinding them up to add to their feed.

Had only one instance of the girls attacking one of their eggs.  Occasionally I'll find an egg on the coop floor and yesterday morning, as I walked in they discovered an egg on the floor and ate the whole thing up.  If it happens again, I'll have to resort to a different method.

Anyway, can some of you share your knowledge and experience.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Golda Finds the Nesting Hot Spot

Golda has clearly indicated her preference for nesting areas.  The primo spot (in her opinion) is the hay aisle of the donkey shed.

The other day I let the donkeys out into the pasture, then allowed the chickens out into the donkey yard (as is the new normal routine).  I was doing some clean-up and left the hay aisle open.  Golda saw her opportunity.

 If you look carefully you'll see her at the bottom of the straw bales on the right.  She started working on her nest immediately.

The other three were a little upset, standing on the other side of the aisle fencing.  Golda didn't seem pleased to have them there and was making an aggressive sound I've not heard before.  I left her alone, and sure enough, there was an egg.

So, clever me says, OK she must want straw bedding (I use shavings).  I cleaned out a nesting box, stuffed some straw in and she wouldn't touch it.  For days.  No one would.  Out comes the straw and back in go the shavings.

Yesterday we went through the same routine.  Hay aisle left open = 1 egg.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Golda in Peril

A few days ago, Golda, one of my favorite hens, almost met her fate.

I decided to wander out and give treats to donks and hens in the early evening, taking the dogs with me.  The two dogs raced up the driveway ahead of me as I biked.  When I approached them, I saw a loose chicken dive into the weeds with dogs in hot pursuit.

Now wait a minute, that must be one of the hens from next door.

Initially I didn't think I could do much to intervene between dogs and hen.  Then I ran for a whip, thinking I could screech (what I do best in panic situations) at the dogs and distract them.  Suddenly I see Golda appear from the weeds and dogs weren't going for the attack.

I scooped her up and she nestled right in.  Unscathed.  It was a miracle.

About two hours later I returned to the coop to lock up and the little girl was loose again.  I knew I had locked her up in the hen pen!  She didn't want to be picked up this time and was walking the boundary of the pen when, what do you know, there was a gap between side and end fencing for her to slip back in.  So I put a monkey wrench in her next great escape plans and slipped a motorcycle tire in that spot (we have them in the donkey yard to play with).

 Rick tightened that section up first thing the next morning.

I have to tell you the whole incident left me anxious for quite some time.
The hens have become an integral part of our menagerie and I thought I had lost one.
Took a while for my heart to resume normal operation...
The puzzler then was, what stopped the dogs.  Somehow I don't believe they know the chickens are not fair game for them.  But what else stopped the kill.