Dotty is our last girl to start laying eggs. She is a month younger than the other girls and they started laying at eight months while Dotty started laying at nine months. She has now laid thirteen eggs in the last seventeen days, including one with a double yolk. Pepper who is the same breed (dominique) has been laying for seventy three days but despite this Dotty’s eggs are already larger than Pepper’s.
These eggs were laid yesterday. Dotty has laid bigger eggs right from the start. Maybe her slower maturing has something to do with this or maybe it is just because she is different. I find this quite interesting. I thought when I first got these girls, that being the same breed I may not be able to tell them apart but in reality they are quite different and both me and my husband have no trouble telling them apart.
They look different, sound different and have different personalities. Pepper is top hen and is a gentle leader. She is lower to the ground, wider, has a paler face with smaller wattles and a gentle expression that matches her gentle personality. She likes to jump on my back or my lap and is a quiet girl.
Dotty is taller and more upright, she has a brighter red comb and wattles with longer wattles, her comb and wattles almost complete a circle shape around her face. She has a black mark on her beak and a naughty expression to match her cheeky personality. She likes to jump on to my shoulder and liked to steel my earrings until I was forced to remove them. She rarely goes “boc boc” like the other girls but has her own happy song which she sings in my ear from my shoulder or sings while eating treats. It’s difficult to describe but is something like a tuneful “dah dah dah-DAH”, with the last “DAH” being a higher tone and the phrase being repeated a couple of times.
At the moment I can even tell their eggs apart although that may change in time. Dotty’s are larger and more pointed.
Bluebell is a different breed (chalkhill blue) and lays blue eggs about the same size as Pepper’s and quite round in shape. Bluebell has been laying for seventy nine days and lays almost every day. She is the most nosey and the brightest but is bottom hen as she has never ever pecked at another hen. She prefers to perch on my arm or sometimes jump from my arm to my shoulder. Bluebell is the loudest girl and if she wants to get in the nest box when another girl is in there she shouts about it. She also shouts to let everyone know she is about to lay an egg She goes “boc boc BOC”, repeated several times with the last “BOC” louder and longer.
Yesterday my husband decided to dig over our vegetable plot and therefore needed to find a new home for the trays of grass that I was overwintering on the veg plot. He rummaged through the shed and found some planks of wood and some brackets (it comes in handy that he never throws anything away!). He fixed the shelves to the outside of the chicken enclosure, sloping them downwards slightly to allow for water to run off.
They are just to the side of the gate so will be easy for me to take in to the chickens and my husband thinks they will get less waterlogged being up off of the ground, plus he likes everything to be tidy!
They don’t look all that healthy at the moment but if they don’t make a comeback by the beginning of summer, I will buy another turf and redo them. Even if I bought a new turf every year it would still be worth it as the price of one square of turf is not much and last summer it gave the girls some grass every day. I would give them one tray a day and by the time they had eaten the grass in the last tray, the first tray had regrown ready to go back in to the girls.
Yesterday and today, between me and my husband, we dug over the veg plot and dug in our chicken compost. As we dug up worms we tossed them into the chickens. The girls were lined up behind the weld mesh that separates them from the veg plot and were in a state of excitement waiting for the worms. They had quite a feast and got a bit of exercise running after worms and running after each trying to steal them. It was a fun afternoon for us and the girls.