Saturday, May 20, 2006

Farm Report 05/20/06

Last week there was no farm report, because the farm was just too busy! It started when Turandot, the Chinese Coachen-Bantam, hatched her first chick:

We decided to let her keep it and raise it, "natures way". Well that turned out to be a mistake; it was dead the next day. She had another chick at the same time, and we let her keep that one, to see how it would go.

The second chick we named "Joy", because she was a little bundle of joy, hopping up and down, extremely cute (all baby chicks are cute, but Bantam chicks even more so, because they are so tiny). Here is a photo of Joy, with her new sister, "Blondie". Joy is the one with the black makeup around her eyes, like Britney Spears. Blondie is the plain old ordinary one:

Unfortunatly, not long after this photo was taken, little Joy "Brittney Spears" Chickie Chick was beheaded by Alphie and Bettie, the two Leg Horn hens on the other side of the partition in the coop. Andy had lined the bottom of the partition with chickenwire to keep any chicks from getting through, but apparently, Bantam chicks, being so small, can manage to do so. I only discovered she had gotten through when I saw Bettie chasing Alphie around the chicken run, trying to snatch the decapitated little body of Joy out of Alphie's mouth.

Chickens are barbaric savages! Such behavior is hardly endearing, although I don't doubt that it probably qualifies them to have their own seat at the U.N.

After this incident, I put a board across the bottom of the partition, and I kept a close eye on Blondie. Turandot is not a bad mother, she would lead Blondie out of the nest, and show her how to scratch the ground to look for food, and how to drink water. But there was no decent food for the chick, and the edge of the water feeder was a little too high for her to reach.

Also, Turandot would protect the chick from the other chickens, which was great. Blondie would jump about happily, much like Joy did. But the moment she hoped around behind Mommie, out of Mommie's view, the other Bantam hens would peck at her and toss her about. The Leghorns watched from behind the partition door, cackling wildly, trying to find a way to get at the tasty morsal dancing in front of them only inches away.

When it was time to return to the nest, it was too high up for the chick to get back in, so Turandot would just leave it and go back to the nest to sit on the eggs. I expect this happened to little Joy; the other Bantam hens probably chased her through the partition, where the big hens finished her off.

It is said that the mortality rate for chicks raised by their mothers is about 70 to 80 percent. If the chicks are taken away and raised in an incubator, the mortality rate drops to only 20 percent. Clearly, this was the best option for Blondie and future chicks. Here are some pics of one of the newborn Bantams:

The newborns are not much bigger than my thumb! And when they dance around and jump up and down, it's unbelievably cute, but trying to get an IN FOCUS photo of them doing so is next to impossible.

The chicks are now being raised in their SAFE new foster home; a cardboard box in the spare room with a heat lamp:

There are six so far. There has been one crushed egg that didn't get born, and one that got shell stuck to it; by the time we found it and pulled the shell off it, it was so exhausted that it died anyhow a short time later. So now we lift up Turandot twice a day to check under her. She has seven unhatched eggs left. The new chickies are doing quite well:

Meanwhile, three Bantam hens are hatching a conspiracy under the nesting box. At least, they seem to be TRYING to hatch something under there. Here are the three main culprits; Zsa Zsa Gabor, Tannie Tarental, and Aida Lota Slugs:

It started off with just Zsa Zsa. I felt sorry for her, and left her to do her own thing. But you give these dinosaurs an inch, and they take 3 feet. The other two Gabor sisters started helping, then Tannie wanted her own nest, then Aida decided SHE wanted one too... now this morning, I find a new FOURTH nest, it's Mimi, I think...

This is out of control! I need those eggs for dog food! They are hoarding them, been doing so for weeks, and no chicks have been hatched. Pat and Andy say to give them more time, because they started a little later than Turandot. But I've seen broken egg shells under there. I suspect that they have been eating their own children, and if there are no chicks by the end of the month, I may declare a FATWA on their nests.

In other chicken news, the juveniles are big enough now that they are just about ready to be integrated into the general population:

Be sure and see the next Farm Report to see how that turns out, and also, a special report:

Naughty Devil-Duckies!

Related Link:

Why liberals shouldn't own chickens

An excerpt:

...What the liberal eventually learns after he recycles all the self-help books he has read is that a rooster will always be a rooster and he will act in the only way he knows how, like a rooster. He will always sexually assault every hen within reach and in full view of everyone, including the children who are being raised without television because of its gratuitous sex and violence. He will always rip tail feathers from bedraggled hens who begin to resemble tonsured monks without the beatific aura. He will always attack small children whose job it is to fill the food trays. He will show no mercy until that child has nightmares about doing her chores and being attacked by a hideous three-headed gorgon with spurs of iron.

The liberal chicken owner, ever the optimist and with his vast experience in conflict resolution, will automatically try to make it work out in the chicken-yard. He will erect elaborate fences, to safeguard the terrified and traumatized child while still preserving the rooster's integrity and right to be a rooster. But one day the rooster will escape and attack the child again, this time drawing blood and the liberal chicken owner will snap. He will grab that heavy ax, previously used only to chop wood for the blazing hearth, and discover it has another use...

(bold emphasis mine) Well I can vouch that our big rooster is nothing like Big Bird from Sesame Street, he could easily be a small child's nightmare. You can read the whole article HERE.


Chas said...

Thanks Peace. I must admit, the chicken coop does have strong elements of drama at times. And yes, the violence thing. It's sorta like "Desperate Housewives" meets "Jurassic Park".

Patty, what kind of breed of Rooster is Paul? Sounds like the kind we would want. Cecil the Rhode Island Red thinks he's Gengis Khan. He flew at my head once, and bashed into my legs several times. I'd hate to think what he could do to a child. I like to hear the crowing, but I could do without all the rest of his nonesense.

Chas said...


Congrats on your purchases. Coachens are great brooders, ours hatched most of the eggs we put under her. She's a great mom too, she looks after the fledglings when they get intergrated back into the coop.

The Rhode Island Reds are magnificent, but beware - they are a very tough and fierce breed, and the males can be quite aggressive. Our Rhode Island Red Rooster ended up in the oven. He was too rough on the hens, killed one of the leghorn hens by jumping on her too much. If we had the space, we might have kept him serarated, because we liked to hear him crow. But we didn't have room to spare, so it was off with his head.

Hope it all works out for you. Keeping chickens can be a very rewarding experience, even if it sometimes seems like owning your own Jurassic Park. ;-)

500 Lbs Canary said...

We used to raise Bantums

Chas said...

I've learned a lot since I did this post. I now believe that letting the mother raise the chicks if preferable.

I don't know where I read the figure of 70 to 80 percent mortality rate of chicks raised by mothers. But that has not been my experience.

I sectioned off a part of the coop as a nursery. The mother sits on the eggs and hatches them out in there. The sides around the bottom are solid wood, so no chicks can get through.

The mom stays in with them a few days after they have hatched, then I let her outside with the babies, free-range, with the rest of the flock.

The other chickens leave her alone. Near sundown she brings them back in to the nursery, she takes them into the nesting box in there. I make sure I'm nearby so I can lock her in.

It works fine, the mortality rate is very low, almost zero.

I don't know if I was doing free-range chickens when I wrote the original post, but I find that letting them out and about makes them much less crazy and violent. You still can't leave the mother and babies in with the general population though, they need to be separate till the chicks are older.

When the chicks get their feathers and wing feathers, the mother stops sitting on them, and she goes up on the perches at night with the other chickens, and her babies follow her. After a few days, she starts ignoring them, and they just learn to blend in.

The Bantams are especially easy. In fact, it can be difficult to stop them from breeding, they make stealth nests and then bring the babies out and surprise you, and they don't need much help to successfully raise their young.