The flock has evolved from big girls to big girls and bantams to bantams and seramas. In future I only see myself adding seramas to the flock so I thought it was time to start a new “history of the flock”.
From left to right we have Speckles and Emerald and then Dandelion, Freckles and Cinnamon.
The flock felt very small and I really wanted to add some new girls. It took me a while to find a breeder that had some girls for sale.
On 20th May 2018 we bought home three, two month old, serama chicks to take our flock of five to a flock of eight. They were two silkie feathered and one frizzle feathered. Going with my on going descriptive theme for names I have named the Frizzle Blue and the silkies Lemon and Jasmine.
They were so tiny that I had to buy a hamster cage for them. I thought it would be good to show of a photo of them during the first few days to show how tiny they were and then update as they grow.
They were constantly feeding and were growing very quickly.
In this photo I was trying to teach the chicks to perch at bedtime. I also decided on a name change. I had named them for their colour but Lemon in the middle of the photo no longer had any lemon colour and her feathers had changed to rust/gold. I changed her name to Sienna as I felt it suited her better.
Sadly on 30/6/18 we had to have Freckles put to sleep. She had been laying soft shelled eggs and eventually had a slight prolapse and a soft shelled egg partly trapped inside her. I cleaned her up and removed the egg from her and replaced the prolapse but she didn’t recover. She stopped eating and was sitting, hunched, with her eyes closed. I couldn’t let her suffer any longer.
It was heartbreaking to lose another girl a week later. On 8/7/18 we had to have Emerald put to sleep. She was our first elderly girl of about six years old and had always been a favourite. She had been slowing down and showing her age for a while.
One weekend she looked as if she was really struggling with the heat and was then wobbling as she walked. I realised she was weak and hadn’t been eating properly. I could only get her to eat chopped grape. She got weaker and weaker and I had to take her to the vets as I couldn’t let her suffer.
The vet did a thorough examination and said that she had a large, hard, lump behind her abdomen which she thought was a tumour. The kindest thing was to put her to sleep. I was so sad to lose my beautiful gentle girl.
A week later on 15/7/18 we went to see the breeder we got Emerald from to see if we could get another black game girl as a companion for Speckles. We bought home Ebony who settled into the flock straight away and even surprised us with an egg on the first day.
I showed the farmer photos of my flock on my phone. I showed him the chicks and said I had bought them as three hens but one of them had turned out to be a cockerel and had woken us up at five o’clock that morning. I said that our neighbours wouldn’t be happy about this and we were worried about complaints.
The farmer said that as part of his job he was used to culling cockerels and we could take Blue to him. It was a heart breaking decision but as re homing was not possible due to the mycoplasma in my flock we felt that we had no choice.
We won’t ever have chicks in future as we can’t risk this happening again. It is so sad but Ebony has bought some joy back to our flock and we have to stay positive and look to the future.
Five days after we added Ebony to our flock we went back and collected another game girl. On 19/7/18 we bought home Flame. It had been so easy integrating Ebony that we decided to it again. If we had of bought the two in together they would have been bonded and Speckles would have still been on her own. By bringing them in one at a time we felt that all three girls would be on an equal footing.
What a beautiful girl and the only girl to chase her a bit was Ebony. Ebony had had five days as bottom girl, apart from the chicks, and made sure that Flame was now in bottom place. Once that was established they settled easily together. Our flock was now at seven girls.
On 22/8/18 we added another five seramas. They were two and a half months old, straight feathered girls in assorted colours.
I continued my theme of descriptive names. Marmite on the left with Salmon next to her, Vanilla at the back with Smoke in front of her and Spangle on the right.
From left to right we have Smoke, Spangle, Salmon, Vanilla and Marmite.
Within five days they were integrated with out any problems. It had been so easy. We were now a happy flock of twelve.
We have from left to right, Marmite, Spangle, Smoke, Vanilla and Salmon. Five very pretty girls.
Sadly on 13/4/19 we had to have Dandelion put to sleep. She had been struggling to lay her eggs and on this day was sitting with her eyes closed and her breathing was laboured with her chest bobbing up and down. Dandelion was such a lovely girl and is very much missed.
Only two weeks later on 25/4/19 we lost Sienna. Sienna had laid one tiny, grape sized egg, three weeks earlier. She never laid again would spend time sitting with her eyes closed and her chest going up and down. She then started making a hiccup, squeak, sound which became more and more frequent. I took her to the vet and she went rapidly down hill. The vet said that she was in heart failure and would have been born with a heart defect. She said that she had been lucky to have had a happy year with us and there was nothing we could have done for her. The kindest thing was to have her put to sleep.
Sadly on 4/9/19 we lost Vanilla. She was dead under her roost spot that morning. She had had a happy year with us.
Only a month later on 3/10/19 we lost Cinnamon. At three years old she was our oldest serama. This was a real blow as she had always been a favourite. She had been ill a month earlier, twisting her neck and throwing foam from her beak. After a visit to the vet and a course of baytril she appeared to be back to normal and started laying eggs again for a couple of weeks. She then stopped laying and a month later showed the same symptoms. We treated with her with baytril again but this time it had no effect. She very quickly went down hill and died in the nest box. This was so sad.
Sadly we have lost another girl only a month later. On 28/10/19 we lost Jasmine our last silky girl. She was moulting and it had turned cold. She had a heart murmur which had been diagnosed by the vet six months earlier. Jasmine was struggling to breath. Her chest was crackling and she also crackled as she was breathing. I bought her indoors as it was a frosty morning but she very quickly went down and was gone that afternoon. It has been heart breaking to lose so many girls in quick succession.
On 8/9/20 we got two new serama chicks. After so many loses the previous year we felt it would be good to add to the flock now that it was settled. They were about three months old.
I named them Shadow on the left and Sugar on the right. They settled in really easily and it wasn’t long before I had integrated them with the rest of the flock. I think they were small enough not to pose a threat to the rest of the flock as the flock took no notice of them at all.
Shadow laid her first egg on 11/2/21 and Sugar laid her first egg on 5/3/21. In February 2021 I decided to add portraits of them all grown up.
These two girls are beautiful and very friendly. They have made a lovely addition to the flock.
Sadly, we had to take Marmite to the vets to be put to sleep on 17/3/21, at only three years old. Marmite laid well during her first year but during her second year she laid soft shelled eggs and always looked poorly before laying but bounced back once her eggs were laid.
Marmite had a happy and healthy winter but at the start of the laying season it was obvious that she was having a serious problem. Her face and comb had gone very pale and she would only eat corn and was like a chicken in slow motion. We couldn’t let her suffer any longer.
The vet said that it was the right thing to do. Marmite was quite weak and empty. She was a lovely little character and she will be missed.
This was very sad. Not much more than a week later we lost Speckles on 26/3/21. She was our oldest girl at eight years. Even so it was a shock because I expected a gradual decline.
That day she had been first to the apples as usual at lunch time. At 5.30 pm I gave the girls their bedtime corn and Speckles came running. At 6.30 pm I went out to check that they were all in and lock the gate. Speckles was dead in the middle of their patio area. She must have been on her way in to bed and didn’t make it.
I inspected Speckles and there was nothing to be seen. Her breast was still slightly warm and she had a full crop. I know it was the best way to go but it was such a shock. I read that bantam anconas have an average life span of eight years so she had had a full life.
Speckles was a beautiful girl and had a lovely nature. She had seen a lot of girls come and go during her time with us. She rose to top girl position and she was so friendly. She will be very much missed.
On 5/10/21 we re-homed Ebony to a friend who is the landlady of our local pub. Ebony had been aggressive with all the girls but worse of all was mounting the seramas. She would pin them to the ground while wriggling her bottom. Our friend had just lost one of her girls leaving her with only two so she was happy to take her. Ebony settled easily into her flock. Ebony was the same size as her other two girls and she became part of the flock with no aggression at all.
On 16/10/21 we got a five month old bantam silver spangled hamburg. I had been on the waiting list since the previous year and the breeder could only spare one girl. I named her Spot. I put Spot straight in with the flock and she settled with no problem at all.
Spot was a lovely addition to the flock.
On 10/2/22 I was heartbroken to have to have Shadow put to sleep. She was only two years old and had laid well for a year then unexpectedly got an egg stuck. The vet said it was too large for her to pass it and she had a smaller egg behind. She went to sleep in my arms.
Sadly on 21/2/22 I had to have Smoke put to sleep. She was four years old and had always been our best layer. The vet said her prolific egg laying had worn her out and she had egg peritonitis. She too went to sleep in my arms.
This led me to the decision not to have seramas in the future. They are so fragile and seem prone to egg laying problems and it’s just too heartbreaking to keep losing them to this. I will choose some slightly bigger bantams that hopefully will be more robust.
Three new girls
On 25/2/22 we got three new girls using a courier service so that we could get some different breeds by getting them from further away. They were three and a half months old. Bantams chabo, modern game and ardennaise. As is my tradition I gave them descriptive names.
They settled into their part of the run as they were on growers pellets so need to be separate for a couple of months. Three beautiful girls and soon settled in. I was so happy with the new additions.
I was heartbroken to lose Spot on 11/5/22 at only one year and one month old. Spot had never laid an egg so I had always worried that there must be something wrong despite her looking great. I think she had a heart defect which caused her not to lay because I think she died of heart failure. One moment she looked fine and the next she was laying face down in the run. It was really fast.
I rang the breeder who I got Spot from and told her what had happened to Spot. I asked her if she could spare me another silver spangled hamburg as I missed having Spot in our flock. She said she could spare me another one.
On 20/5/22 we got Dot.
Dot was the same age as Spot as she was one of the previous year’s girls. Dot settled into the flock really easily. She put herself to bed with the flock from the very first night. She was dust bathing with flock straight away. Dot was smaller in size than Spot but wasn’t nervous at all and was immediately friendly with us. Dot laid an egg on her first full day with us much to our relief. We were so happy to have Dot in the flock.
Two new girls
On 18/8/22 we added two new girls. We had three elderly girls and very few girls laying eggs plus I had just found a breeder nearby who had two breeds I liked the look of and they were laying and point of lay. He was able to deliver and bought four for me to choose two from.
I chose a bantam buff plymouth rock who was five months old and just about to start laying and I called her Saffron and a bantam light sussex who was seven months old and already laying and I called her Diamond.
As they were older girls I decided to put them straight in and see how it went. It went beautifully with them settling in straight away. Diamond chased each girl to show she was now top girl and then settled calmly with no further action. Saffron went in at about the middle with her chasing a few girls and being chased by a few girls but again no pecking or anything nasty.
Diamond found her way in to the chicken shed on the first night and Saffron on the second night. The flock was happy and calm straight away as if they had always been together. I was very happy with the flock and felt that I wouldn’t need to add new girls for a few years. We now had a lovely mixed flock.
Sadly I had to have Flame put to sleep on 8/9/22. She was almost seven years old and hadn’t been herself all summer. She was spending a lot of time in the large shelter and sometimes had her eyes closed and sometimes had her head under her wing.
The afternoon before I took Flame to the vets she perched in the chicken shed and didn’t come out again. I knew she had come to the end. The only kind thing to do was to have her put to sleep. She went quietly in my arms while the tears streamed down my face. She was a beautiful girl with a lovely nature and will be much missed.
We lost Saffron on 24/11/22 at only eight months old. She had laid seventeen eggs. I found her in the middle of the chicken shed that morning already cold. There didn’t appear to be anything wrong with her apart from a slightly muddy coloured comb. We now had eight girls and hoped that they would stay healthy and long lived after a bad year for losses.
I was heartbroken to lose two girls at once on 2/3/23. Both Spangle who was five years old and Snowflake only one year old both had problems as they were about to start to laying. After trying to treat them with antibiotics I had to take them to the vets as they went downhill rapidly. Snowflake had egg peritonitis and Spangle had an egg break inside her and passed some liquid egg but was too weak to recover. Both girls had to be put to sleep. It was the first time I had ever lost two girls together. It was so awful.
After losing two girls at once our flock of six felt small and I thought it would be good to add a new girl. As I couldn’t find any bantam breeders near us I decided to instead go for a small hybrid breed. I chose a black star.
Black stars are a small breed with hens weighing five pounds when mature. They are quiet and docile and are hardy. They are good egg layers of a good sized egg ranging in colour from dark brown to light brown.
I found a breeder half an hour away. I rang him and he had just one black star left so I asked if we could collect her straight away.
On 8/3/23 we added a four and half month old black star to our flock. As I had used up all my black/gold names I decided to call her Star.
I have had good integrations by adding one girl straight into the flock so this is what I did. Star settled in very quickly. The other girls took very little notice of her and she soon found the food, water and chicken shed. She went into the chicken shed at bedtime right from the first day. I felt she would fit in perfectly.
We lost Diamond on 28/4/23. She came to us with gape worm and I spent the eight months she was with us treating her with double doses of flubenvet but she sadly her battle with it. She was a year and three months old and had never laid an egg. This was a really terrible experience.
We lost Star after only two months with us. she had slipped off the steps down from the chickens’ patio and was limping. We took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with a torn ankle ligament. She spent a lot of her time sitting down which we thought at the time was due to her ankle injury. Then on the morning of 4/5/23 we found Star dead in the chicken shed. She had seemed good the day before and looked fine at bedtime. She was only six and a half months old and due to start laying. It was such a shock.