Two weeks on……..

Well the new girls have been at the farm for two whole weeks now, and things are going well. They have come out of the new ‘enriched cage’ system, unlike their battery caged predecessors, and I must say they do seem to be in somewhat better condition. The new enriched cages allow more room for the hens to move and stretch than the tiny old barren cages; they have perches and they do allow small areas to nest and scratch. There are still many restrictions with this system – the chickens are still kept in relatively small cages, without access to the outdoors. Anyone who’s seen a hen take a dust bath, or stretch her wings in the sunshine will tell you just how much they love to be outside. But that is a discussion for another day. This blog is about my girls!

We had an uneventful journey home from Carmarthenshire to the farm on collection day. The occasional cluck from the boot and the rather wiffy smell of the new chickens ensured that I didn’t forget about my new charges on the drive back! Bluebell and Dau, the resident chickens, were rather put out to say the least when we opened the three cat carriers to reveal six new hens!

There was a reasonable amount of squabbling in the early days as the eight worked out the pecking order (I had no appreciation of how that saying came about until I kept my own flock of chickens!!). Things are settling down now in that respect, but the new girls do still get the occasional squawk and peck on the comb if they dare try out a little tit bit I’ve provided before Bluebell can get to it!!

Those of you on Facebook may have noticed that we had one casualty early on. One of the new girls developed a severe limp, which is rather a problem when you only have two legs to start with (and not the best balance if I’m really honest!!). An examination confirmed, as far as possible without an x-ray, that she hadn’t broken a bone, so we set her up in her own little pen to rest and recuperate. We had to separate her from the others, as chickens do have a rather mean tendency to pick on anyone showing weakness – so poor old Cassy (short for ‘Hopalong Cassidy’) had become quite a target overnight.

Anyway, I am very pleased to report that she is doing very well and her limp has almost fully resolved now. We plan to return her to the flock in the next day or two. I’ll let you know how she gets on.

Egg production is going well. We are still getting the reliable two eggs from Bluebell and Dau, with the new girls laying anything from one to four eggs a day (including three from Cassy, bless her) between them. Based on past experience this should continue to increase as they settle in and get back to full health. We’re also looking forward to seeing those feathers start to grow.

The girls are all currently living in the barn, but work is very nearly finished on the new deluxe chicken coop and run. And they are due to all move out into the big outdoors together later this week. We are all very excited about it and can’t wait to see them tuck in to their first meal of insects and bugs. Fingers crossed they get some sunshine to bask in………….