Boring chicken statistics to follow, but as I also use this blog as a farming'ish journal, you get to suffer through it.
When I opened the chicken door this morning, twenty-four chickens hopped out. Four are roosters, so that leaves me with twenty hens, some from last summer's hatch, some from the year before.
Out of the nineteen live hatches this spring, seven were roosters. One was beheaded by a raccoon or opossum, three were given away and three currently reside with us.
The fourth rooster is from the previous hatch, although he's more of a "pet" now. He was the one that Harley attacked and he just hasn't been right since. One foot was broken and although he gets along pretty well, he still pretty gimpy. Before the attack he was head rooster, now he's the outcast. He'll hang around Pan's enclosure (the stinky buck goat) and just stays out of the way of the other roosters. Even when given ample opportunity to mount a receptive hen, he doesn't even try. I've also noticed that he no longer does that rooster-clucking to call the hens to a particularly good morsel of food; I've even seen him peck a hen to get her away from a snack he was after. And I haven't heard him crow a single time since the incident.
Although he's looking much better and gaining weight (thanks to much pampering and hand-fed snackies), I don't think he'll ever regain his status let alone rejoin the flock. I suppose even a rooster can sink into a depression.
This spring we've lost at least two hens. One of the pullets that refused to go in at night was eaten by a prowling coyote one evening, the other was a hen from the 2010 hatch. I had to put her down as her health was slowly but surely deteriorating. I suspect she was egg bound as she had the exact same symptoms as the one that died last year.
I'm a bit surprised that we haven't lost more chickens as they are always going out into the woods and scratching up the forest floor in search of bigger and better bugs. Although I am relieved that they have their sights set on something other than my raised beds and flower garden (which hasn't seen a tulip in two years now because of those peckerheads). The coyotes are already coming back and I'm just waiting for the bobcats to take up residence again. The hawks are in their spring mating frenzy so there have been at least five of them circling and crying the past couple of weeks. Once they've got young to feed, I'm afraid that the KFC (Krazo Freerange Chicken) buffet will be open again.
But until then, I'll be enjoying the plethora of eggs were getting every day. We'll collect between twelve and sixteen eggs a day; not too shabby with twenty laying hens. We're eating eggs, eggs, eggs for breakfast, lunch and sometimes even dinner. I've even started putting an egg in the loaves of bread I make. The fact that there are over ninety eggs a week that I have to do something with makes it pretty hard to put all of them through our intestinal tracts, so I've been selling the remaining eggs.
I may start thinking about incubating eggs again. The neighbor lost most of their hens so I know they'd appreciate a gift of some chicks and I'm sure I could sell some to local folk. Oh yeah, and keep a few for myself, of course. It wouldn't be a good year without peeping chicks in the barn!