Silkie Hens Fill the Egg Basket Too

You may have heard the Silkie Bantam is only a fair egg layer, but is this really a fair statement? Perhaps they get a bad rap because they’re often broody which interrupts egg production. True, but in my opinion, this incredible bird should be considered a master of two jobs. I give them five stars for their dedication to motherhood, and here’s their generous contribution to the breakfast menu. Not bad, not bad at all!

My Silkies lay every other day on average, with little change during our mild Arizona winters.  There are six birds in my flock over the age of four and are still producing at the same rate. As far as I’m concerned, a chicken’s production decreasing after the age of two years has not proven true on our little farm.

But there are always exceptions…

Silkie 3-114

Meet Fern, this little lady doesn’t lay eggs at all, ever!  Hatched in 2012, isn’t interested in setting on eggs, and has never gone broody. But no worry, there’s still a job for her here as a bug eater. She’s also valuable as a warm body to the others on those occasional cold winter nights.

New Chicken Keeping Articles | Sept. 7, 2015

An updated collection of chicken keeping articles from  across the web archived in one convenient library on our menu bar.

September 7, 2015
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Poultry House | Cornell Small Farms Program
4 Fabulously Long-Tailed Chickens – Hobby Farms
Chicken Scaly Leg Mite – Easy Treatment at Home

Adding Chickens 2

Are your chicks ready to leave the brooder? | The Scoop from the Coop
Will My Dog and Chickens Get Along? – Hobby Farms
What to Feed Chickens in Winter – Animals – GRIT Magazine
DIY Sprouted Fodder for Livestock – The Happy Homesteader – MOTHER EARTH NEWS
5 Ways to Make Coop-Cleaning Easier – Hobby Farms

This Week’s Feature Article

Preparing The Coop And Chickens For Winter
by oldworldgarden | Life in the Garden
The chill of Fall is definitely upon us here in Ohio – and unfortunately – that means Ol’ Man Winter is right around the corner… Continue Reading

Sharing a Little Chicken Humor…

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And Furthermore…

Update on the Silkie chicks. Lost Henny, one of the white chicks to unknown causes. Too bad because I was really needing two white pullets. Now I’m down to one and I’m 99% sure that one is a rooster. Just goes to show, no matter how good we think we are at sexing chicks, we can so easily stand corrected, especially when it comes to Silkies!
These chicks will be in the only brooder I have until they are 7-8-wks. Either I get another brooder, be creative in dividing the current one, or wait until late Fall to get those white babies. Chicken keeping, every day offers something new to think about… and it’s all fun.

Splash of Color

Splash of Color 2-2015

My Successful Introduction of a New Pullet

The Step by Step Process of Introducing a New Chicken to an Existing Semi-Confined Flock

Randi 2-23-15

Anybody who raises chickens knows the drama of adding a new bird… and that’s where I am now.  My 2014 Silkie chicks have been in plain sight of an established flock since they were 7 weeks old. Does that mean they’ll all get along? Heck no!

I ended up selling all the Silkie pullets but one, Randi, a pretty little buff, now five months old… and ready to join the flock. Two weeks ago I opened her coop door allowing her freedom to join my hens. But as expected, normal behavior is to stay where it’s safe.

Little Randi dared to venture outside her coop a little more each day. For another few days she stayed close to her own coop and food source. When the big bad hens got too close she’d make a mad dash to the safety of her home sweet home.

Yesterday I noticed Randi was getting brave, and although keeping her distance from the flock, she was exploring far beyond her safety zone. It was now time to provided an extra feeder and drinker where all the hens randomly hang out. The first argument is usually over food, so I made an attempt to avoid that war by protecting the established flock’s groceries. Sometimes that works, but sometimes the boss hens split up and claim both food sources. Meanies! That was a risk, nevertheless, against my better judgement, climbed a ladder 12 feet to the roof supports and hung rope for another oasis. Not only did I manage to survive that ordeal, but it worked… the hens did not split up, allowing little Randi access the new chicken buffet.

Throughout the day I watched for trouble. Not expecting harmony by any means, but whether or not Randi would fair well in the hens coop that night still needed to be evaluated. Adding a new member to a flock can be ugly, and disturbing to watch, especially when it’s forced. Hens don’t take kindly to a newcomer at bedtime, every spot on the roost is not only reserved, but earned.

Having a bird pecked on causes all sorts of other problems, all of which I make every attempt to avoid. Having injured birds means isolation, wound care, not to mention another coop to clean. All that equals more work, but more importantly… the pecking order is interrupted in the interim. So it’s important to be patient and not rush introductions, new chickens find their place among the flock all in good time. Ample space is crucial, this allows the newbie to avoid confrontation and build the confidence to venture about without the constant fear of being threatened.

After a day of evaluating the flocks somewhat aloof behavior towards Randi’s presence, I decided it was safe to put Randi in the hens coop that evening. But to avoid the inevitable roost argument, I let Randi return to her own coop at dusk, closed the door behind her and waited an hour.

The best time to sneak her into the big girl hen house would be after the hens are roosting for night. Why? Because hens are very unlikely to leave the roost until the first sign of  morning light. I put another nest box in the hen’s coop area that none of the ladies have seen before… unclaimed. It was now time to move Randi from her coop to the hen house and place her in the new nest box. She’d feel safe there for the night, and in time… choose her own place to roost.

Up With the Chickens

What’s the first thing chickens do when they leave the roost? Eat, poop, and definitely NOT see an intruder at their breakfast table. So I was there, at 6AM to open the coop door… to freedom, creating a distraction far more appealing to the hens than dealing with the feathered stranger.

The ladies quickly left the newcomer behind and went about their business beyond the coop of confinement. Randi stayed in the coop, oblivious to the normal routine of the flock. The hens would be back to lay their eggs, and again at dusk to roost for the night. Eventually Randi will join their redundant itinerary, usually within a month. In the interim, her spot in the pecking order will depend on her. She will remain the bird with the lowest seniority, unless she aggressively earns a higher ranking.

Conclusion

After three days of all the girls being confined for the night, the morning wait for a human to come and open the coop door has been without any significant incidences, except for a few missing tail feathers. No blood, no bald birds, and minimal arguments… I call that success!

The Breakfast Club

Black Silkies 1-16-15