Sugar has now been broody for just over three weeks and is showing no sign of coming out of it. It takes three weeks to hatch eggs so she should have given up by now but the first time she went broody last year she went four weeks before I decided to break her out of it.
Just as I was thinking that I will have to try and break Sugar from her broodiness Flame went broody too.
Sugar usually leaves the chicken shed in the morning and goes to sit in her favourite nest box. I was surprised to find she wasn’t there. Instead she and Flame were together in the corner of the chicken shed.
I took both girls out and blocked the pop hole of the chicken shed in the hope that it would deter Flame, who had laid late the afternoon before, so I knew she didn’t need to lay.
When I checked a few minutes later Flame and Sugar were together in Sugar’s favourite nest box.
I know that this looks very cute but I have past experience of this. What happens next is Flame will mother Sugar and Sugar’s behaviour will revert to being a chick. This could then potentially continue all summer so I can’t let that happen.
I decided that as Flame had only just gone broody I would try to break her first before she was properly in the zone. It seems that she was already instantly in the zone though.
I decided to move Flame to broody jail which is the dog crate in the shed. I put a dish of mash and a dish of water in and a perch. I will get Flame out several times a day for exercise.
This usually takes only two days and two nights. While Flame was in the crate I noticed how much her spurs had grown since I did post about them in the past.
They also point in different directions. It’s lucky that Flame is a placid girl and the spurs don’t pose any problem.
When I said that she was already in the zone it was because it was proved each time I took her out of the crate. I would return her to the run in the hope that she would get some exercise but all she did was race to the nest box while bok boking and sometimes shaking herself and making an angry sound.
I left Flame in the crate over night and closed up the shed. When I opened up in the morning Flame was desperate to get out. I put her in the run and she ran straight to the chicken shed. Every time I take her out she refuses to spend time in the run and makes a bee line for a nest box or the shed.
I can’t close the nest boxes as there are girls needing to lay so I will just have to keep up this regime until Flame comes out of her broody spell. I just hope that it is as quick as it’s been in the past.
Yesterday was another day of lots of nest box activity. Sugar was in her usual nest box next to the chicken shed. She has now been broody two days short of three weeks and shows no sign of coming out of it.
Gold was in the nest box next to the store cabinet. The nest box by the gate was empty.
The race is on for who will lay next. Yesterday I was sure it was going to be Spangle. Spangle was being very vocal. She wanted the nest box Gold was in. I tried putting Spangle in the empty nest box but she didn’t want that one.
Storm was also looking in the nest boxes and had been scratching shavings out of all three nest boxes.
Spangle was shouting all the time that Gold was in the nest box as that’s where she wanted to be. Once Gold had laid and left the nest box Spangle went straight in. I kept checking back on her and she was settled in the nest box. I felt sure she was ready to lay.
After about an hour in the nest box Spangle came out. I checked and there was no egg! These girls seem to need an awful lot of practice.
I think spangle will probably lay soon but so far today she isn’t bothering with the nest box.
Spot is a mystery though. She is a year old this month and after her spell of practising in the nest box she has shown no further interest. I find that very odd.
We have plenty of eggs though with three good layers at the moment. Gold lays up to four days running and Snowflake up to two days running. Flame lays every other day and occasionally two days running. Between them we have all the eggs we can eat.
It will be interesting to see which girl lays next.
We suddenly have an abundance of eggs which is rather surprising considering we have only three out of eight girls laying. But the three girls we do have laying are good layers.
Flame, Gold and Snowflake are laying. They all three lay every other day and occasionally two days running. Gold lays slightly more than Snowflake and has so far laid eight eggs to Snowflake’s six.
Sugar has now been broody for a week. The egg that I thought Salmon had laid I am now thinking must have been Sugar’s egg. I put it down to Salmon as she had been in the nest box and gave a shout but she hasn’t laid since so I now think it was more likely that it was Sugar’s egg.
That means we still have Salmon, Spangle, Spot and Storm to start laying. I am surprised that some of them haven’t started laying by now.
Salmon and Spangle started laying in March last year. Spot is a surprise as she is coming up a year old now. Storm I think is younger than Gold and Snowflake plus her breed is slower to mature and not known for laying well so I am not expecting her to start yet.
It doesn’t matter about girls not laying as we have plenty of eggs with just these three girls laying but I am just surprised. I am sure they will all get started in their own sweet time.
Today I felt that it was going to be a race between Gold and Snowflake to get their first egg laid.
Gold was the first to settle in a nest box this morning. Snowflake was in and out of the nest boxes. Gold was in the nest box next to the store cabinet. Snowflake eventually settled in the nest box next to the gate which was the one she settled in the day before yesterday.
A little later Gold came out of the nest box shouting. I checked and there was her first egg.
On the left is Gold’s first egg followed by Salmon’s egg then next is Sugar’s egg and Flame’s egg is on the right.
About an hour later I was cleaning up in the run when Snowflake left the nest box and there was her first egg.
Snowflake’s egg is on the left and is bigger than Gold’s and darker in colour. Both Gold’s and Snowflake’s eggs have the same long shape. A similar line up for comparison with Snowflake’s on the left followed by Gold’s, with Salmon’s egg in the middle, which is rounder and bigger than Sugar’s egg which is next and Flame’s larger egg on the right.
Well done both Gold and Snowflake! I am so proud of them. According to the breeder the new girls would be five months old now but I think perhaps they are six months old as that is the usual time to start laying.
I think perhaps she gave me the age of the youngest and possibly Storm is five months old and Gold and Snowflake six months old. Storm looks younger than these two.
The odd thing is that Spot is now eleven months old and has yet to lay her first egg. I am really surprised that Gold and Snowflake have beaten Spot to it and what a coincidence that they have both laid their first egg on the same day.
There should be no need to buy anymore eggs now until the end of the summer. Hurrah!
At the moment it seems that every day I wonder who is going to be the next girl to lay.
Spot looked so ready to lay with her daily practising and then she seemed to give up and has stopped visiting the nest box for now without laying an egg. In the meantime Sugar started laying.
Then Gold looked like she was going to be the next girl to lay. She has been squatting every time I get near her and she has also had a few visits to the nest box today.
Then it looked like it was going to be Snowflake next to lay. She has been very vocal for the last few days. Today she had a scratch around in all three nest boxes. She eventually settled in the nest box by the gate and was in there for about an hour. I was sure she was going to lay but she too left the nest box without laying.
While Snowflake was in the nest box Storm hung around outside the whole time. She was looking in or pecking at the shavings that Snowflake had scratched out.
Next it was Salmon in the nest box and she came out shouting. Salmon has laid her first egg of the year and it has a good shell. That is such a relief. It did have her trade mark poop next to it and it’s bigger in size than Sugar’s eggs.
Next Spangle went in the nest box to take a look at Salmon’s egg.
In other news on their fifth night together both Gold and Snowflake found their own way in at bedtime and perched on the back perch with the rest of the flock. They have continued to go in each night since.
Storm is still perching on the edge of the nest box next to the chicken shed and I am putting her in but I am sure she will get the hang the of it soon.
Gold now jumps on my back when I poop pick the run like Speckles used to. She rides on my back and steps of on to a perch. Storm also jumped on my back yesterday.
If I hold my arm out to Gold she will jump on.
I am amazed at how tame Gold and Storm are. I also think Snowflake is getting more used to me now that I don’t have to pick her up at bedtime. I am sure that like Spot she will come round eventually.
I wonder which girl will be next to lay. Never a dull moment in the chicken run!
When I checked on the girls at dusk tonight Storm had gone in the chicken shed herself and perched on the back perch with the rest of the girls. Hurrah! I think we have cracked it.
The day before yesterday I found what I thought was Sugar’s first egg of the year but I hadn’t actually caught her in the nest box so I decided to wait a few days to be sure.
The reason I thought it was Sugar’s was that she had briefly been in the nest box the day before, she had also been in the grit and it was the same time of year she started laying last year whereas Salmon and Spangle started later.
On the same day Flame also laid. Flame is laying every other day and Sugar usually lays every other day too so I decided to wait until today to be sure.
Sure enough Sugar settled in the same nest box today and Flame as usual settled in the corner of the chicken shed.
When I checked a little later both Sugar and Flame had laid their eggs.
On the left is Sugar’s egg laid today and next Sugar’s egg laid the day before yesterday. Next is flame’s egg laid today followed by Flame’s egg from the day before yesterday. On the right is a medium shop bought egg. Well done Sugar.
Meanwhile Gold will squat if I hover my hand over her so I think she is getting ready to lay soon too. I tried to take a photo but it’s quite difficult to hover over her with one hand and click the camera at the same time with the other hand. Not perfect photos but they show the gist of it.
I am thinking that Gold is older than I thought she was as they usually start laying at around six months.
At this rate quite a few of the girls will beat Spot to laying. After a few false alarms Spot seems to have given up for the moment. Not to worry though as they will all start laying eventually.
I always worm the flock in March and September. I have been waiting for the flock to be properly mixed so that I could them altogether.
Also the e-mail with information about the delivery of the new girls advised worming them soon. It said that they had been given flubenvet but with so many chicks together it would be difficult to know that they all got a share so they advised doing it again.
I also realised that as Spot had joined our flock at the end of last year she had missed being wormed.
As usual I mixed the flubenvet into dishes of mash and will continue for seven days.
Snowflake was the only girl who wouldn’t come to the patio so she had her own dish. As long as they all have a little it will be enough to do the job. As the dishes emptied I took them away leaving the last dish which Storm and Gold finished.
Spot had her usual sit in the nest box and I wondered if today was going to be the day but she left once more with no egg. I can’t remember a girl having so much practice.
In other news the bedtime routine is still a work in progress. I realised that I am a distraction at bedtime as when I am with the girls the main flock stay out later and Gold just wants to jump on me all the time like Sugar used to do at bedtime. Gold would rather perch on me than anywhere else.
Last night I decided to try leaving them to it and to go out after the pop hole had closed.
I found Gold on the shed roof and Storm perched on the edge of the nest box nearest the shed. Snowflake was inside the nest box nearest the shed. I lifted them all to the perch in the shed.
The good news is that they obviously want to be near the main flock. They just can’t seem to work out how to go through the pop hole. Tonight I will try going out just before the pop hole closes and see if I can guide them through it.
They always get the idea in the end but it’s taking longer than I thought it would. I feel sure that once they find their own way through the pop hole we will have cracked it but it’s just getting them to take that step.
I will keep trying different approaches each night until we get there.
Yesterday morning I put the run back to usual. I opened up the wire by the patio area and at the bottom end of the run. I put the little coup back on the patio as a third nest box and we took down the high perch.
I am leaving the extra feeding station by the shelter and the extra dish on the patio until the new girls are confident at using the usual feeding station on the patio without being chased away.
I decided to stay in the run before bedtime to see how it progressed. With hind sight I should have left the high perch up for one more night. As dusk approached the new girls were looking for their high perch.
The new girls have been settling before the main flock so they wanted to perch while the main flock were still pottering around. I could see that they wanted to fly up on to the dividing wire because their perch was no longer there.
I tried standing in front of it to block them. I hoped that if I could stop them perching then once the main flock were in I could guide them in too.
Instead Gold jumped to my shoulder. I took her to the chicken shed and put her on the perch. She came straight back out and jumped on me again. I had difficulty removing her from my back. Eventually she ended up on my head and I lifted her down.
I took up my position again and Storm jumped on to my arm. I also put her on a perch in the chicken shed but she too came straight back out.
I took some photos but I was guessing where to point the camera and they are rubbish but I thought that I would put them here anyway to give the gist of what was happening.
After this I decided that I would leave them to perch on the wire for now and when the rest of the girls were in and the pop hole had closed I would lift them down and put them in the chicken shed.
You can see Storm below them getting ready to join them.
I went indoors to put dinner in the oven and then returned. The pop hole was closed and I was surprised to find that Gold was now on the chicken shed roof.
I lifted her down and settled her on the side perch in the chicken shed. The main flock were all on the back perch. I then lifted Snowflake down and put her beside Gold. Then I lifted Storm down and added her to the side perch.
I waited a minute and then checked back in the chicken shed and all the girls were settled with the three new girls perched where I had put them. It will be so much better for them to be perched over night rather than in the little coup.
I was hoping that once the new girls come out of the chicken shed in the morning they would then know where to go at night. I am expecting it to take a few nights though.
I went out at seven o’clock this morning and whereas the pop hole is usually open at this time it was still closed as it was a really dull morning. I decided to take my camera and watch the girls come out.
Spot was the first to squeeze out as soon as the door started to lift. Flame was next and then Sugar followed by Spangle and then Salmon. Then there was a pause. I waited as I wanted the new girls to find their own way out as they would then be more likely to also be able to find their own way in.
After a minute Gold emerged followed by Storm and last as usual was Snowflake.
Snowflake was a blur so I skipped that photo. The girls went to the various food dishes and were all getting along fine so I was happy with that.
In the afternoon Spot was once more in the nest box and I again thought that she was finally going to get her first egg laid.
Later Spot was back out in the run and again there was no egg. This girl needs a lot of practice.
Tonight I stayed out with the girls at bedtime again. It actually went better than I thought it would. I could see that Gold really wanted to be with the main flock and she kept looking through the pop hole.
I put Gold in the chicken shed a couple of times but she was straight back out again. She then started looking as if she wanted to jump on me so I held out my arm for her. Gold would then jump on my arm and I would open the door of the chicken shed and persuade her from my arm to the perch.
Each time Gold would stay in a bit longer but eventually come out again. In the meantime Storm came to the chicken shed. I put Storm on the perch in the chicken shed and she too came out again.
However Storm was standing on the nest box so I picked her up and put her back on the perch in the chicken shed and she stayed there. I put Gold in once more and she too stayed there.
At this point Snowflake also came to the chicken shed. I tried to guide her through the pop hole but instead she went into the nest box next to the shed.
I decided to leave her there until the rest of the girls were in. Once the rest of the girls were in the pop hole closed. At this point I lifted Snowflake from the nest box and perched her next to Gold. Once again I checked a minute later and the girls were still perched with the main flock on the back perch and the new girls on the side perch.
I feel this is a real step forward and I am sure they will get the hang of it over the next couple of nights. It’s gone far better than I thought it would.