Tag: welsummer

The Chicken Chronicles

Just like yesterday’s post, this one is two weeks in one.  I forgot to schedule both of them last week.  DUH!

The Welsummers are now about 13 (now) 14 weeks old, and they are FINALLY starting to venture out with the big hens some.  Up until this point we have wondered if we made a mistake putting them into the coop with the older hens, and perhaps we did, but now they seem to be coming out of their shell (pardon the pun) a bit.  😀  We are still cornering them by themselves in a separate cage almost daily to give them time in the sun without having to worry about the older hens picking on them.

One of the issues we have had with the Welsummers is that they just roost on top of the nesting boxes instead of the roosting bar.  Last night I put a branch in there near the nesting boxes and was happy to see a couple of them on the branch when I opened the door to the run this morning.

The laying is going full steam, and we have been able to bless family and neighbors with several dozen eggs so far.  It sure is nice to see the smiles on the faces of folks when you bring them a dozen fresh eggs, especially those who really enjoy them.

Speaking of eggs, the silly Welsummers are roosting on top of the nesting boxes, so there ends up being a mess in the boxes all-too-often.  I need to get another roosting pole put in the coop in an effort to prevent this – it’s not happening this week though.

Speaking of chicken projects, I also need to get the roof patched.  There are a few leaks, which aren’t causing trouble now, but I sure don’t need them to continue.  I doubt I will get to that this week either.  And that isn’t it.  I have another project I have been putting off for a while, though I will save the details of it until later.

The Chicken Chronicles

There is not a whole lot of new things happening with the chickens.  The biggest news right now is the babies (Welsummers) and the older ladies (Rhode Island Reds, primarily).  The Reds sure do pick on the Welsummers, so much so that they Welsummers stay in the coop away from the other hens.  This week we have taken the step of putting the babies back in the baby coop and a separate run when we can.  It doesn’t work so well when it rains, which it has been doing this week, but it is nice to get them outside.

One thing that is encouraging is to see the Welsummers testing one another.  No, I don’t relish the fact that they are establishing a pecking order amongst themselves, but I do like knowing that they are getting tougher and stronger, which means they will be able to hold their own with the older ladies soon enough.

The biggest problem with the Welsummers is they are roosting on top of the nesting boxes, and in fact they stay there much of the time, which means their droppings are falling into the nesting boxes.  We have to make changes because of this.  It isn’t hurting anything, but it is making the eggs more dirty.

One of the nice things about the hens right now is how they are fertilizing the garden for us when they are out running.  I like one way I have heard it said: chickens are a compost factory that just happen to lay eggs.   Surely they are not providing all the compost we need, but they are helping.

The Chicken Chronicles

Well, I meant to post this last week, but for some reason I forgot about it.  So, you will get last week’s post and an update to last week’s post.  🙂

Another week, another chicken problem. It seems Red has hurt her leg somehow. Red, by the way, is any one of the Rhode Island Reds, as we cannot really tell them apart. Anyhow, we have had to separate her to keep the others from picking on her, and to keep her from trying to go up and down the stairs in the coop. We’re also giving her half a baby aspirin at least two times a day. Right now she is avoiding standing on that foot, but I cannot see anything wrong with it. That leads me to believe she might have sprained it somehow.

 In other chicken news, we built a small coop for the babies (the Welsummers) so they can start staying outside all the time. The silly girls wouldn’t go into it the first night though, acting like young kids the first time they try to camp out. 😀 We finally decided to bring them in after listening to crying for an hour. Maybe they will get used to it decide to sleep in it. It won’t be long until it is time to integrate them with the rest of the girls.

 We had a good week of laying both weeks, including one day where all of the older birds laid eggs – that hasn’t happened often at all.

This week’s update: Red is doing much better.  She is now back in the coop with her sisters, and while she is still favoring her leg, she is much, much better.

Since last week, we have put ankle bracelets on three of the Rhode Island Reds, and amazingly we can now see who rules the roost!  There is one of them, tentatively named Pink (because of the pink bracelet) who is obviously at the top of the pecking order, and it seems Blue (you guessed it, a blue bracelet) who seems to be #2).  The Easter Eggers seem to not really care either way, but they do recognize Pink’s authority.  It’s funny how we could never notice that without some identifier of who was who.

The most exciting news this week, and a far change from what I expected given the update above, is that the babies, the Welsummers, ran into the big girls’ coop one day when they were out running around, and they showed no interest in coming back out.  The older ladies are picking on them some, but they seem to be holding their own, so this is where they will stay.  🙂

The Chicken Chronicles

As I mentioned yesterday, the chickens are earning their keep this time of year as they are becoming the fertilization factory.  The portable coop is helping with this tremedously.  Next I need to get the next phase of the project done which will allow them to run about in other spots in the garden more freely, yet with protection.  I can’t wait to share more on this.

The babies, the Welsummers, are doing very well, though I cannot wait to get them in with their sisters.  They are still too small to intermix them without supervision though, as the other hens will have some motivation to show them who is boss.  That is, to establish the pecking order.  I am writing this part of this on Sunday, and today we plan to let them all out to play together in the yard to see how it goes. Update: we let them out to play together with the older hens, and overall it went very well, though one of the Reds was taking every opportunity she could take to peck at one of the Welsummer’s heads. SIGH.

Egg laying is still not showing an impact from the loss of a bird, so I am thinking she might not have been laying a lot of eggs. We are still getting 51 eggs per week, or 5.67 eggs per week per bird.  Not bad.  This year we havn’t given as many away because are going through them like crazy in our house.  I guess everyone is enjoying the fresh eggs.

The Chicken Chronicles

I have to begin this week’s post with some unfortunate news.  For those of you who know my wife, I would ask that you not talk about this around her.  She is still taking it a bit rough.  We lost our first hen last week.  Snow White had become egg bound, and to make a long story short, she died from it.  Believe me, there is more to it, which is why my wife is not keen on discussing it, but it ws a good lesson for us.  In the future any hen who gets egg bound more than a couple of times in their first year of laying will be removed from the flock.  It seems this is a strong sign that there is something physically wrong with the hen, which ended up being the problem with Snow White.  This is why I want to add one or two birds a year to the flock though.

Speaking of new birds, the Welsummers are coming along nicely, and they are spending most of their days outside now except when the weather is bad.  They are loving it.  We still haven’t mixed them in with the rest of the flock yet, as we are wanting them to grow some more first.  In fact, I hope to make a make-shift small henhouse for them today so they can stay outside more, but still in their own cage.

Egg-laying is coming along nicely, and even with the reduction of one laying bird, we are still keeping up with our typical totals of 49 eggs per week or 5.44 eggs per bird per week.  I can’t wait to see that number go up when the Welsummers start laying.

Speaking of the Welsummers, how about a picture?

Aren’t they getting big?  It seems we bought them around the first of March, so they are nearing eight weeks old.  Lately they have been trying to establish their pecking order – it is almost like watching a bunch of teenage boys.  😀

The Chicken Chronicles

Our ladies sure are enjoying this warmer weather!  I cannot wait until we get to a point this summer that we can begin primarily feeding them out of the garden.  I am smiling as I write this thinking of how much they love tomatoes.  Those hens go nuts over tomatoes thrown into their run, but I am not sure whether it is the tomatoes they enjoy or the red color.

Speaking of hens, look at the size of their young sisters, the Welsummers:

Welsummers Growing

Aren’t the Welsummers getting big!?

They are growing by leaps and bounds, and by next week they should be ready to be introduced to the rest of the birds.  Whew!  I still need to read up on that.  I will do this as soon as possible though, as I don’t really think keeping them in a garage without fresh air and sunlight is the best thing for a chicken. Even so, they must be protected from the elements a bit while young.

The hens are really laying well now, averaging about 5 eggs per hen each week.  That means we are getting about 7 eggs per day.  When the Welsummer start laying, we will have an incredible abundance of eggs, probably near 70 or so a week.

We have been using the portable run to put the hens over grassy areas in the garden, allowing them to earn their keep.  🙂  The problem is that they are enjoying the worms more than the grass!  I had to smile when I went to check the area where the portable run is after putting them back in the permanent run for the night.  It was as if they overturned everything on the ground EXCEPT the grass.  Hmm.  Perhaps they need to be reminded that getting rid of garden grass is one of their jobs.


The Chicken Chronicles

There’s not a whole lot of new news this week with the birds other than their egg production is really going up.  This week we had 53 eggs, with the Rhode Island Reds laying 23 and the Easter Eggers laying 30.  That is 5.3 eggs per week per bird, and I am expecting that to go a little higher.  Go ladies!

Speaking of birds, check out the Welsummer chicks!  They are really growing!  It won’t be too many more weeks until we can begin to put them outside, and I think they will be more than ready.  By this time the container we are keeping them in is getting a bit crowded for them.  I cannot wait until these ladies start laying.  They are supposed to lay a beautiful dark-brown egg.

Welsummer Pullets

Welsummer Pullets

Oh, I shared a picture of the new portable run last week, but I wanted to share another with the birds in it.

Portable PVC Chicken Run

Portable PVC Chicken Run

You will notice the ladies checking out the milk crate, which I had hoped would be a good make-shift nesting box in case one needed to lay an egg while in the portable run, but they rejected that idea.  We’ll have to find something else today.  While you cannot see it in this picture, they love the roosting bars in this run.  I added them more for stability, but I am sure glad I did now.

As I mentioned yesterday, you are not going to want to miss tomorrow’s post.  My youngest son has drawn a comic which I think you will all enjoy.

The Chicken Chronicles

Whoa! Spring is here!  As I said yesterday, you can tell it in the weather, and the ladies must be able to also.  They are really increasing egg production!  We now are getting 8 eggs a day most days again.  Here, the totals speak for themselves.  The Rhode Island Reds laid 20 eggs and the Easter Eggers laid 30 eggs.  That is a total of 50 eggs or 5 eggs per bird per week.  Not bad!

Speaking of birds, the Welsummers are really growing!  It is hard to believe that they will have their feathers in just four more weeks, but I guess that should make sense, as we saw tail feathers for the first time a few days ago.  I cannot wait to get them out with their sisters in the pen, though I suppose that is some time away.  As I understand it, we will need to allow them to get to know one another first so they don’t get injured by the older hens.

Yesterday I wrote about the new run.  I have a few chicken projects underway, this being one of them.  The idea was this: a portable run that is lightweight, yet strong.  It must also allow the hens plenty of space so they can stay in it for long periods of time without overcrowding.  I must be able to move it at least once a week to keep the grass from being destroyed in any one area in the yard.  So, here is what I came up with:

Portable PVC Chicken Run

Portable PVC Chicken Run

This was made with 1″ PVC pipe, 2″x1″ fencing, and a 14’x14′ piece of bird netting for the top.  It is 10’x10′, which is more than enough run room for the fourteen total birds we have.  It is best to give them 10 sq. ft. per bird, which this is short of, but combined with what they already have and the movable nature of this, it will work.  Once you see the next project, you will understand why I say that.  A last minute addition was a roosting bar made of PVC on the inside.  This not only gives the birds a place to roost, but it adds stability too.  I don’t know what it weighs, but one of my sons and I can move it.  It is easier with four people though.  I am sure my neighbors are wondering how much more stuff I will put in my yard, but that’s okay.

As I said above, I have a few projects underway.  This was one of them.  I would also like to extend the chicken run under the coop on the south side, but that is the last project.  Before that comes, I have another secret project that I will share as I get closer to doing it.  Many of you already know what it is though, as you have seen others doing it and have shared it with me on Facebook.  😀

The Chicken Chronicles

The ladies have had a great week this week.  The warmer weather and the lack of snow has meant they have gotten to have time out roaming the yard.  With the completely saturated ground, the worms are abundant right now, and the hens act like they are starving and at an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Last week I was so excited to post the Unbelievable Egg Video that I totally forgot about the other big news of the week: we have new chicks!  As I wrote a few weeks ago, I wanted a couple of more hens.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t buy them in quantities of two, so we ended up with four.  We decided to go with Welsummers, which sound like a wonderful bird.  They are known for being more intelligent than the typical chicken, and they are great foragers.  Even more exciting is the fact that they lay a very dark brown egg!  I can’t wait to add that to the mix of eggs!  We will certainly have no shortage of eggs now.  😀

Welsummer Pullets

Welsummer Pullets

One of the other interesting things about Welsummers is that you can determine their sex by a couple of feather pattern characteristics,  First, a Welsummer pullet (young hen) will have a well defined triangle on the top of their head, and they will also have “eyeliner” coming out from their eyes.  If these characteristics are faded or not well defined, it is a cockerel (young rooster).

Back to the topic of eggs, this week was another good egg laying week.  The total was 39 eggs, with the Rhode Island Reds laying 18 eggs and the Easter Eggers laying 21 eggs.  We are quickly approaching the point where we can start giving eggs away to the neighbors and family.  In fact, we gave a few away this week.  I really enjoy blessing folks in this way, even though it is something small.


The Chicken Chronicles

This has been another week that the chickens have wished would end.  The ladies are so tired of this bitter cold weather, and they have learned that they don’t like snow, not even a little bit.  We have however, been able to lift up the tarp some and give them some light, which has helped a little with the egg production.

I can’t remember if I have shared this before, but we have one, Cinderella, who is a guard of the eggs.  If we check the nesting boxes after they have gone into the coop to roost, she will rush over there and peck at our hands as we are checking for eggs.  This makes it exciting, let me tell you.  🙂  Hearing her run over to the boxes reminds me of the velociraptors in the kitchen in Jurrasic Park.

Blondie, the Guard Chicken

Blondie, the Guard Chicken

The egg production, as I said, was up a little this week.  Not much though. Here are the numbers:

  • Total eggs: 32
  • Rhode Island Red: 20
  • Easter Egger: 12

Not too bad.

This week we are planning on getting two more hens: Welsummers.  You know what a Welsummer Rooster looks like, and you may not even know it.  Cornelious, the Kellog’s Corn Flake rooster, is a Welsummer rooster.  Anyhow, they are supposed to be excellent, friendly birds that are intelligent and great foragers.  Most of all, they lay a very dark brown egg.  I can’t wait!