Chickens Out, Chickens In

One of the hardest things about farm life is the way we mustn’t allow ourselves to get too attached to our livestock, because inevitably, they die, they need to be replaced because they are no longer a working animal, we eat them (well, not us, but some people do), or one of myriad other reasons.

Chickens Out, Chickens In - Stone Family Farmstead

Before we closed on our home back in October 2014, we were told that with the closing, we would be inheriting the chickens in the coop. I was excited because, for one thing, they were beautiful! I had never owned any other type of chicken but red sexlinks, and while I loved my Lucy and Ethel, I was elated at the prospect of gaining the two Golden Laced Wyandottes and the Americauna who already lived here. As a bonus, they were still laying, which meant that they were a built-in source of eggs for us, in addition to what my girls were producing.

It didn’t take long to figure out that these girls were going to bully my Ethel and Lucy. Despite my efforts to integrate my girls into the old flock, after a few months my girls’ heads were featherless, they stopped laying, and their back feathers looked as if a rooster had been having his way with them for weeks. It was very sad for me to watch my previously-confident and beautiful hens looking beaten-down and featherless; and it was all I could do to feel like they were wondering why I wasn’t protecting them better. I quickly began thinking about how what I could do to help them all get along better.

Ultimately my best idea was to have Todd cut a hole into the side of our 8x8x12′ coop, which meant that the girls would be able to forage all day long out in the sunshine, rather than being confined to the coop. Even as large as the coop was, it apparently wasn’t big enough for the 5 girls to be in it 24/7. Their newfound freedom was much appreciated, and the ‘mean girls’ soon began finding other pastimes, leaving Lucy and Ethel to hang out together with no one to terrorize them.

Looking for the Chickens - Stone Family Farmstead

Last year, after Todd cut the door into the side of the chicken coop.

After a while, Lucy passed on which left Ethel all alone with the three ‘mean girls’. She has since come down with the same issue as Lucy had, which was salpingitis. Once it manifests itself, it’s usually too late to try to heal the infection, so we are making her as comfortable as we can at this time.

Ethel of Stone Family Farmstead

With the prospect of losing Ethel soon, and the realization that these girls are slowing down in their laying due to age, my mind began pondering what I would need to do to bring new girls into the flock. I had heard of many people doing this, but I couldn’t shake the memories of how beaten up Lucy and Ethel were when they were the new girls. While I was pondering these things, I discovered that I now had an egg-eater in the flock, and one girl has gone broody again. Neither of these things are things that can’t be dealt with, but at this point, I am ready to pass these girls along after a year of trying to figure out how to make this flock work for us.

Egg Eater - Stone Family Farmstead

Besides these girls laying fewer eggs, we’ve got an egg-eater.

Finally, I decided to put it off for the time being until I reconnected with a friend and her husband who said that they would take my flock off my hands so I could start over. They are very knowledgeable about chickens and have no problem integrating new chickens into their flock, having done it many times before. I’m so thankful for their help, because it means that I’ll be able to finally raise a batch of chicks that will allow me to catch them when they need medical care (ever chased a chicken around? It’s been no fun TIMES THREE here!), not to mention that in a while, we will have plenty of our own eggs. This would also mean that I won’t have to continue to purchase eggs from someone else for much longer whilst still feeding 4 chickens that are barely producing. It will be a good move for us.

Squash - Stone Family Farmstead

Now that I’ve got a healthy garden growing which is boasting lots of squash and promising tomatoes and peppers; now that milk production is picking up; and now that we are looking at getting a new batch of chicks, it seems that we are a few steps closer to doing what we planned on when we decided to purchase this place: meeting our goals of producing our veggies, milk, and eggs here on our farm.

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Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! šŸ™‚
Kristi Stone

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  1. gram Jody says:

    Love your blog, good idea to start over with new chickens, will you get baby chicks or full grown ?? Either way, I imagine Kieran will love. Good luck with new ones

    • HI Mom! We’ll get babies so I can hand raise them. It makes it much easier to train them for daily handling for medical reasons and otherwise. Kieran will love them, I’m sure! Thanks Mom!

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