Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Counting Chickens

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!


  1. Oh my, I've got a lot to learn before we get in the chicken-and-the-egg game. Still laughing at your own KFC brand.

  2. Too bad all folks don't realize how interesting a home chicken flock can be! Lots of simple entertainment (and a little bit of work, but really not much). Even bird-brained chickens can have personalities!

    We've only currently got twelve layers so although our gals are laying very well, I've only got 5 dozen extra eggs in the refrigerator right now. We don't sell them but a few special friends seem to really appreciate a dozen now and then. Like you guys, we often have eggs in one form or another for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I figure it's good use of a very nutritional, fresh, available food we raise right here.

  3. Haha... I worked at a KFC in my youth. For some reason, I think your KFC would be even more fun! :o)

    Glad you have so many eggs. We are enjoying them around here, too. Tonight for supper, in fact! Abundant eggs are one of my favorite things about spring! Only I never have any extras to sell.

  4. Extra eggs is a good problem to have. Does having multiple rooster cause a lot of fighting?

  5. Ah, incubation. The one thing my youngest wants us to do FOR SURE this year. Why didn't he tell me that before we ordered 25 chicks?

    HAving said that, you should definitely incubate! Your neighbor would surely appreciate it...and who couldn't use a couple more little peepers? ;)

  6. I know a really great way to use eggs. Hard boil them and feed them to your pig! What's that? You don't have a pig? Well you better get on that then. ;)

  7. Charade, you'll just LOVE having chickens! Eggs AND entertainment!

    Mama Pea, it's the time of milk & eggs here; can you say lots o' quiche??

    Mooberry, you'd have to have a warehouse full of eggs to have extra eggs with your big family! I'd venture to say that you could easily go through two dozen at breakfast!

    Chai Chai, the roosters were raised together, but I think the fact that there are enough hens around that fighting isn't a big problem. If there were four (non-injured) roosters and only ten hens I think there would be a LOT of fighting going on.

    Mama Tea, I incubate, but only because I can never seem to get a broody hen around here. Well, that and the fact that I can hatch out forty-two of them at once....but then WE have to care for the chicks instead of having the hen do it for us.

    Hoosier Homesteader, do you even have to hard boil them for the pigs? BTW, Paul HAS mentioned getting a piglet to raise next year!

  8. I only have 2 girls right now, but am getting 2 more soon. I've lost 3 over 1 1/2 years, due to worms. I finally conquered that! I love babies!

  9. We need to invest in an incubator. The kids keep asking us to hatch our own vs. order them.

  10. Personally, I find chickens fascinating. I count mine every day - which keeps my mind nimble, as they are running around while I'm trying to count. I can only handle one rooster, though. Right now, Kees is the perfect roo - he's terrified of me. My incubator is named Marie-Claire.

  11. I like to add an egg to bread too, especially raisin bread or whole wheat. I feel kinda sorry for your poor beat up rooster, he's lost his mo-jo! We had egg salad sandwiches for supper last night to use up part of our abundance of eggs!

  12. You crack me up with this chicken/egg post... get it, crack me up? All kidding aside, it's one thing after another if you live on a farm, hard work! I had to laugh at your comment on the Compost Cookies- "Fritos smell like dog feet!" My daughter says the same thing!!! They are from a famous NYC bakery called Momofuku, but what do New Yorker's know!!!

  13. Carolyn, we are in the same boat with an overabundance (if there can be such a thing) of eggs right now. We have finally given away down to about 5 dozen. I need to learn to make a quiche.
    I just boiled a dozen....

    Have you made an angel food cake yet? Then make the 12-yolk sponge cake and there goes another dozen!

  14. Nancypo, I don't think we've had a worm problem, what kind did you have, if you know, and how did you treat it?

    Kristina, incubating & hatching is a ton of fun, for the kids AND the adults!

    Susan, only you would actually name your incubator!

    Candy, oh, how I wish we had egg salad more often (see the next blog post & you'll understand!).

    Joycee, is that a swear word??? The bakery, not the Frito Feet. :)

    gld, quiche is sooooo easy! 2 cups milk, five eggs, adders (cheese, bacon, ham, spinach, S&P etc.), put into partially baked pie crust & bake at 350 for an hour. I may make several of those cakes, but not just now....I'm trying to cut out sugar from my diet :*(