A yogurt treat for the girls

A few days ago I gave the girls a yogurt treat which they absolutely love.

The girls have a yogurt treat
The girls have yogurt beaks

I love to see the girls with their yogurt beaks. They scrape their beaks against the patio to clean them afterwards. The dishes end up so clean that you would think they were able to lick them. I just love seeing the girls enjoying a treat.

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Sugar has lost her tail

This morning Sugar’s last two tail feathers were under her roost spot in the chicken shed. Overnight she has lost her tail. Oddly enough Dot’s last remaining tail feather is still hanging on.

Sugar has lost her tail
Salmon next to Sugar for a tail comparison

Sugar looks quite sweet with her short tail. It will soon grow back to it’s usual length. Apart from Autumn all the girls’ combs have now turned their pale winter colour.

Autumn’s comb is bright red and she has gone from laying every other day to laying two days running some of the time. Autumn is keeping us going with those bonus winter eggs.

It will be good to see the rest of the girls through the moult. It seems to have dragged on this year.

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Dot has one tail feather left

Dot has continued to drop feathers wherever she goes and to leave a heap under her roost spot overnight. A few days ago she was down to her last tail feather. I was going to do a before and after but a few days later that ragged lone tail feather is still hanging on.

Dot looks so sad during the moult. She spends time in the shelter and when I give out the sunflower hearts she waits the other side of the wire from the rest of the girls for hers. The girls always seem to lose confidence when having a heavy moult.

Dot has one remaining tail feather
Dot looks sad and is standing on her dropped feathers
Dot’s remaining tail feather is at a jaunty angle

I am still picking up piles of Dot’s feathers from the chicken shed each morning. It’s a wonder she isn’t bare by now. I’ll be glad to see Dot through with the moult as I am sure so will she.

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Moulting and a fish treat for the girls

Both Dot and Sugar are moulting quite heavily. Both girls last laid about two weeks ago and then started dropping feathers with abundance. First it was Dot followed a few days later by Sugar. I have never seen Sugar drop so many feathers at once as usually seramas moult a bit at a time.

Sugar is leaving little heaps of feathers where ever she has been sitting and under her roost spot in the chicken shed she has been leaving a pile of feathers. At first they were small feathers and then this morning there were lots of long tail and wing feathers. Oddly enough Sugar doesn’t look bad though. She is a bit straggly but doesn’t look as if she is losing piles of feathers. Her new feathers must be coming in underneath.

Mango stopped laying half way through October and then a week later laid one last egg and then stopped again. Autumn has laid as regular as clockwork every other day through out October and has now laid fourteen eggs. They are gradually increasing in size.

I thought a fish treat for the girls would give them a little extra protein to help with the moult.

A fish treat for the girls
They all love fish
The fish won’t last long
It provides the opportunity for some group photos

All the girls are looking good considering how much moulting is going on. Dot and Sugar are the last two girls to moult so that will get it all over with before winter and Autumn is holding the fort on the egg laying front.

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Updates

I have for now given up trying to get Mango and Cloud to go in the chicken shed by themselves. For three nights Cloud went in the chicken shed while the nest box was covered but Mango was obviously stressed at being out on her own and unable to sit on top of the nest box.

There was a huge amount of sloppy poop all over the chickens’ patio area. It made more clearing up for me but more to the point it showed me that Mango was stressed. I went back to leaving the nest boxes uncovered and Mango and Cloud resumed sitting on top and the poop went back to just a few normal poops. This meant it was quick for me to clean up and to put Mango and Cloud in.

I know that it is Mango that is the problem. Cloud wants to go in but is torn by wanting to stay with Mango. I had back up of this a few nights ago.

Mango went into the nest box late in the day to lay her egg. It was half past five and the pop hole had been closing at half past six. When I went up at dusk Mango had laid her egg and was out on her own but Cloud was perched in the chicken shed. Cloud must have gone in while Mango was out of sight in the nest box.

This is really frustrating but I am all out of ideas so for now I will continue to put Mango and Cloud in each night. I keep hoping when it gets colder maybe they will start going in but I am getting to the point of wondering if it’s ever going to happen.

In other news Sugar went broody after laying seven eggs in two and a half weeks. She has just had two nights in the broody crate in the shed and is now through it. As I had hoped she isn’t quite as committed at this time of year. I hope this will be the end of her egg laying for this year.

Dot last laid a week ago and is dropping long feathers so I think she is finished for this year. That leaves both Autumn and Mango laying every other day.

The day before yesterday it rained most of the day. I find it amusing that although the run is roofed the older girls like to spend time in the shelter when it’s raining. But it is times like this that we have a flock of two halves. All the older girls were in the shelter together but the three newer girls were pottering about in the run. I have never seen them in the shelter as yet.

All five older girls in the shelter together
Sugar, Gold, Dot, Storm and Salmon in the shelter
Out in the run is Autumn
And Cloud
And Mango

Yesterday it rained so hard late afternoon that at half past five when I was giving out the bedtime sunflower hearts the pop hole closed and caught us all out. I had to open the chicken shed door and guide them all in. At least Mango and Cloud went in at the same time as the rest of the flock. I shall give them the bedtime sunflower hearts at the earlier time of five o’clock.

It will be a work in progress to see if Mango and Cloud ever go in by themselves but for now I will continue to do what I am doing.

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A surprise four egg day

We have had a bit of an up swing with the egg laying and were surprised today with a four egg day. Dot laid first then Autumn then Sugar and Mango.

Autumn has now laid four eggs and they are always in the same corner of the chicken shed. Autumn is a girl of habit. She always perches in the same spot next to Dot on the side perch in the chicken shed and she always lays her egg in the same corner.

Sugar laid her third egg two days after the one with blood on it. This time it was almost perfect with only a tiny bit of crazing on the shell. She then laid her fourth egg today which is three days later and this egg was perfect.

Sugar didn’t looked uncomfortable before laying this egg which is probably because the shell was normal. She seems to have improved for now which is really good news.

A four egg day

Sugar’s egg is on the left then Mango’s egg is next then next is Autumn’s egg which is a slightly darker colour and then Dot’s egg is on the right and always has some slight speckling on it.

I thought it would be good to get a photo of all the girls to go with the egg photo so I sprinkled a few sunflower hearts on the patio and quickly snapped a photo. What amused me is as soon as I had done this Autumn and Mango went to the water and suddenly there were then five girls at the water. They are such flock creatures!

All eight girls on the patio
Autumn and Mango go to the water
Then five out of eight girls are suddenly drinking together

They do make me smile.

In other news I have been trying to get Mango and Cloud to go in the chicken shed at bedtime. They were settling on top of the nest boxes so for the last week I have draped a tarpaulin over the nest boxes to try to encourage them to go in the chicken shed. I open the nest boxes and hang the plastic sheet down over the boxes so there is no where to perch.

At first they would just be waiting on the patio for me to put them in. As soon as I opened the chicken shed door they would come to the door for me to put them on the perch. I tried leaving the door open but it made no difference and they were still waiting for me to put them in.

Then for the last three nights Cloud has gone in and perched. Mango has still been on the patio waiting for me. I am hoping that eventually Mango will follow Cloud in. It’s always been Mango that wants to stay out and I have felt that Cloud has been torn between going in and staying with Mango.

I hope that as it starts to get colder Mango will follow Cloud. I feel that Cloud going in is progress so I will continue to cover the nest boxes until they both go in. We have never had girls take this long to start going in themselves but I am hopeful that we will get there eventually.

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Autumn and Sugar’s next egg

Autumn laid her second egg two days after her first one. It is slightly bigger in size and she laid it in the same corner of the chicken shed. She is a no nonsense girl with her egg laying. She goes straight in the chicken shed and very quickly settles down and gets her egg laid and quietly comes out again. I expect the egg shout will come in the future.

Eggs

On the left is Autumn’s egg from today and next to it is her previous egg. Next is Mango’s egg and on the right is Dot’s egg.

Autumn has the most amazing fluffy bottom.

Autumn checks out the nest box before choosing the chicken shed to lay her egg
Autumn has an amazing fluffy bottom

We knew yesterday that Sugar was getting ready for her next egg as she was sitting in the position with humped back and wings down. This morning Sugar was standing with her wings down and once again didn’t come for the sunflower hearts.

Before Autumn went in the chicken shed Sugar settled in a nest box. Autumn was out again in about fifteen minutes having laid. I kept checking on Sugar and she was in the nest box for two hours. A couple of times she was standing in the egg laying position and whistling/wheezing with the effort. She would then sit for a while and then try again.

The next time I checked Sugar was happily scratching in the run so once again I knew she must have got her egg laid. The egg was quite bloody. At first I thought the shell was good but when I turned it over it had one soft patch on it.

Sugar’s next egg
The shell has one soft patch

Again I scrambled the egg and gave it back to the girls. I feel so sorry for Sugar having such a hard time laying. It has been seven days since her last egg though so at least she is getting longer between them.

I will be glad when Sugar has laid her usual six or seven eggs and can take a break again. I hope this spell will be her last for this year. I feel so sad for her but really hope that she will stop laying soon. She bounces back to normal once her egg is laid but it would be so good if her egg laying came to an end.

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Autumn lays her first egg

I have wondered recently if Autumn was getting ready to lay. She had taken an interest in the laying girls while in the nest box. She had also taken to scratching in the chicken shed every morning while I was cleaning up.

This afternoon I could hear a girl scratching in the chicken shed and when I investigated Autumn was settled in the corner.

Autumn is settled in a corner of the chicken shed

I checked on Autumn a couple of times and she was still in. When I next checked she was out and there was her egg in the corner of the chicken shed.

Autumn’s first egg
Autumn’s first egg on the left and Mango’s egg on the right

Autumn’s first egg is only a little bigger than Mango’s egg. They usually start off small though and gradually get bigger.

Autumn is six and a half months old and I wasn’t sure if she was going to start laying before spring so this was a lovely surprise. Well done Autumn!

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Sugar lays a soft shelled egg

Sugar usually starts laying again two weeks after I break her from being broody. This time round she hadn’t laid for five weeks. I had really hoped that she was finished laying for this year.

During this break from laying Sugar had looked much better. She had stopped spending half her time sitting on the ground and instead had returned to perching on the branch perch above the ladder. She had looked much perkier and looked better than she had done all year.

Then the day before yesterday Sugar looked uncomfortable again. She was sitting with her back humped and her wings down. We knew she was brewing an egg once more.

Yesterday Sugar was standing in a corner of the run with her wings down. When I threw out the morning sunflower hearts she made no attempt to move. I felt really bad for her and as usual wished she could just stop laying. Once again we felt unsure whether she was going to get her egg laid this time.

A bit later when I checked on Sugar she was settled in a nest box and remained there for hours. Autumn was very interested in Sugar being in the nest box and stood on the ramp watching her. I wasn’t sure if this was a sign Autumn was also getting ready to lay soon or if she was just curious about Sugar being in the nest box for so long.

I took my camera up but by then Autumn had moved back down the ramp. She was joined by Mango and Dot to check on Sugar in the nest box.

Autumn, Mango and Dot had all been watching Sugar in the nest box

All three girls were watching Sugar but when I pointed the camera Mango turned to look at me.

Autumn was very interested in Sugar in the nest box
Autumn also turned to look at me
Sugar in the nest box

While Sugar was in the nest box both Mango and then Dot laid their egg. Every time I checked on Sugar she hadn’t yet laid.

The next time I went up to check Sugar ran down towards me enthusiastically along with the rest of the flock. She looked back to normal so I knew she must have got her egg laid. I checked the nest box and her soft shelled egg was broken in two halves with a broken egg yolk over the pine shavings. I scooped it out along with the messy shavings.

Thank goodness Sugar has once again managed to get her egg laid and bounced back. I hate that Sugar has to go through the discomfort of laying soft shelled eggs. We wish that Sugar could stop laying altogether but unfortunately we can’t make that happen.

We feel lucky to still have Sugar as we thought we may lose her this summer. We just hope that after this spell of laying she will stop laying for the winter. We know that the problem will probably return in the spring but it would be good for Sugar to have the reprieve of a winter without the discomfort of laying. It would be even better if, like Salmon, she didn’t resume laying in the spring. That would be the best possible outcome for Sugar.

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Cloud’s turn to moult

Mango recently started laying again after a two month break. During that time Mango had been moulting and after looking very tatty she was then a mass of pins. Now she looks smooth and completely back to her former glory which is why, I think, she has started laying again.

Cloud last laid two and a half weeks ago and now it’s her turn to moult. She too has been very tatty and then a mass of pins. Now the pins on her head and neck have started opening into small spiky looking feathers.

Mango close up
Mango is looking amazing
Cloud is looking shabby

Gold next to Cloud is still looking a little shabby but much better than she was. She is gradually getting back to her former self.

Cloud has new short feathers on her head and neck

As Cloud took a little bit of spinach off of Salmon’s beak it gave me the perfect shot of her neck. Her feathers almost look like fur at the moment.

A tatty looking Cloud
Another shot of Cloud’s spiky head and neck feathers

Dot took a week off of laying and then started laying again. She has been losing feathers especially some long wing feathers but doesn’t really look very different from usual as yet. Her comb is an amazing red crown.

Dot’s amazing comb

The moulting has been sporadic throughout the flock. I have been surprised how much Mango and Cloud have moulted for first year girls. Storm didn’t appear to moult at all last year and this year Storm’s moult seemed more gradual and she had shabby patches rather than all over at once.

Having both Dot and Cloud laying again is a real bonus. The game girls have turned out to be better layers than I expected which has been a lovely surprise.

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