Moulting and egg laying

There is a bit of moulting going on at the moment but not too heavy. Mango has been dropping fluffy baby feathers and has some loose ones sticking out. Cloud has a ragged tail but doesn’t seem to be dropping feathers. Storm dropped a few tail feathers but still looks good.

Autumn is dropping, fluffy baby feathers, but doesn’t look any different. Dot dropped a tail feather in the chicken shed overnight. Gold still has her weird under feathers showing at the base of her tail. Salmon and Sugar don’t seem to be dropping any feathers yet.

Gold, Storm and Dot are laying as usual. Sugar is still struggling with her eggs. She used to lay every other day but now lays less often. When she came back into lay she laid her first two eggs with a day in between and they had normal shells.

Sugar then laid six days later with a soft shell which was broken under her roost spot in the morning. Two days later I found Sugar’s broken soft shelled egg out in the run. It must have taken her by surprise and afterwards she sat in the nest box for a while as if she didn’t realise she had laid it.

Today which is three days later she has laid an egg in the nest box which is almost normal. It just has one soft patch and a bit of crazing on the shell. I will scramble it and feed it back to the girls.

Mango is moulting

Behind Mango is Gold and you can see that she still has her weird explosion of feathers at the base of her tail. This must be typical of her breed because I checked in on Pipinchick’s web site recently to see what chickens they now had for sale, purely out of curiosity! Their photo of a bantam ardennaise could have been a photo of Gold. It had the exact same feathers as in this photo. It reassured me that this must be normal for her breed.

Cloud is behind Mango and has ragged tail
Sugar always looks like this before she lays

Sugar hadn’t moved from her position next to the food and water for a few hours before she took herself off to the nest box. She always looks uncomfortable and I feel so sorry for her.

Autumn is dropping fluffy feathers but looks unchanged
Storm had dropped a few tail feathers but her appearance is also unchanged
Later sugar got her egg laid
And as always Sugar bounced back
Sugar joins the dust bathing girls
Dust bathing together

Sugar usually lays six eggs before going broody and she has now laid five. This should mean she will stop laying again soon. Her eggs have been laid over a longer period of time, this time round, so I don’t know if she will lay more because of this.

Only time will tell how Sugar goes on. Any time we have her with us is a bonus as we really didn’t think she would still be with us this summer, after her difficult start in the spring. I feel that if she can get to the end of her egg laying this summer she will be okay for the winter. It will be next spring that could be troublesome for her.

Only time will tell. At the moment, although I hate to think of her being uncomfortable while laying, she bounces back and seems happy in between. As long as she is having a good quality of life we will let things take their course.

We are also realistic and know that Sugar isn’t likely to be long lived with whatever problem she is having but for now she keeps bouncing back.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Today’s eggs

After what I said in yesterday’s post I was amazed that we had four eggs laid today. Sugar last laid seven days ago so I thought she had finished but today she laid again without looking poorly and the egg had a good shell.

Storm last laid eight days ago so I thought she had also finished but she too laid today. Dot laid four days ago and also laid today. Gold laid yesterday and again today. These girls can always surprise me.

Today’s eggs

On the left is Storm’s egg. She lays a good sized egg for such a small girl and her eggs always have a pointed shape. Next is Sugar’s egg which is small and oval. Next is Gold’s egg which is white while the rest are beige. On the right is Dot’s egg which has little brown freckles.

I really wasn’t expecting to get a, four egg day, again this year. Well done girls, what a bonus!

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

I’ve dug the run over and latest updates

After digging the run over this morning I thought I would get some group photos while all the girls were scratching together. They love a bit of newly turned earth to scratch in.

But each time I was ready to take a photo one girl walked out of shot. First it was Storm and then it was Autumn. The flock are very much together at the moment and seem a really tight group which is lovely.

I had just dug the run over
One girl walked out of shot in both photos

Gold laid her first egg today after a two week break. Dot has slowed down to laying every three or four days. Last year both Dot and Gold stopped laying at the end of August.

Last year Storm stopped laying at the end of July but this year both Storm and Cloud stopped laying at the end of the first week in August. Mango stopped laying at the end of July. I think this is it for the game girls as they have a shorter season although this year Storm actually started laying in February so she has laid for six months which is not bad at all.

Sugar laid a normal egg eight days ago and then a soft shelled egg six days ago. Before she laid it she looked really poorly for the day and once again we thought we were going to lose her. She took herself to bed early and in the morning a broken, soft shelled egg, was under her roost spot. Sugar was out in the run and had bounced back again.

Sugar hasn’t laid since then, whereas she usually lays every other day, so I am really hoping that she may have come to the end of her laying. I checked back on my records and Salmon laid for three years and stopped at this same time of year after laying a soft shelled egg. Sugar has also laid for three years and laid a soft shelled egg at almost the exact same date so I am really hoping that, like Salmon she won’t lay again, which would be so much better for her. It would end the discomfort of laying and the constant broodiness.

Salmon laid 178 eggs in three years and Sugar has laid 134 eggs in three years.

Autumn has grown and has gone from being smaller than Dot to bigger than Dot. She is now our biggest girl but she has a gentle nature.

I have tried to get a snapshot of all the girls.

Close up of Storm
Sugar still spends half her time sitting like this
Autumn is now bigger than Dot
Close up of Dot
Mango and Cloud together as always
Autumn had just shaken herself as I clicked the camera
Close up of salmon
Gold has very tatty feathers

Sugar looks perfectly normal half the time like above and is sitting half the time like the previous photo of her. Salmon is always on her feet and only ever sits if she is sun bathing or dust bathing. I know something is not quite right with Sugar but she hasn’t got any worse and she has a good quality of life.

I think if she has stopped laying she has a good chance of going on like Salmon but if she continues to lay it will be her downfall in the end. But I didn’t think Sugar would still be with us this summer so we just have to wait and see and hope for the best.

I am biased but I do think we have a very lovely flock and any eggs are just an added bonus.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

The girls have some tomato

I gave the girls some chopped tomato which is an absolute favourite of theirs.

The girls have some tomato

It just happened that in the above photo the flock had split themselves into two halves. On the right are the five girls that I got from pipinchick. The three on the very right are this year’s girls and the next two last year’s girls. The flock now has five out of eight pipinchick girls. That’s an interesting progression.

Enjoying tomato which is gone in seconds

Autumn loves all the treats and comes running to the patio area whenever I go through the gate to the run.

In the next bit of broody news Gold went broody five days ago. She is not very committed and has now come out of it again. That means we are back to three laying girls. We have Dot, Storm and Cloud laying at the moment.

It always seems that as one girl starts laying again another stops. It’s enough to keep us in eggs though so I am happy with that.

Mango gave up being broody four days ago. Unfortunately after Cloud had perched herself in the chicken shed for the four nights that Mango was broody this changed as soon as Mango gave up being broody. Once Mango started not going in at bedtime Cloud stayed out with her.

I really don’t know what to do to get Mango and Cloud to go in at bedtime. They usually settle on top of the nest box so for two evenings I blocked the top of the nest boxes by draping tarpaulin over it. They still didn’t go in and were just wandering on the patio area after the pop hole had closed.

I am out of ideas now and just resigned to putting them in each night. I am just hoping that when the darker, colder, nights of winter approach they might decide to go in. That is my only minor complaint though and I am happy to have a happy flock.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

The latest news from the chicken run

The garden is looking amazing at the moment.

The garden looking up towards the chicken run

Cloud came back into lay four days ago after a two week break after her brief broody spell. Storm also came back into lay four days ago after a break of three and a half weeks after her brief broody spell. I think it has taken Storm longer because she had a partial moult in between.

Mango went broody three days ago after laying twenty eggs.

Broody Mango

I would lift Mango from her corner in the chicken shed and put her in the run where she would stay until I moved her on.

Five days ago Sugar went broody after laying six eggs in nine days. For the last three nights I have put Sugar in the broody crate as it is only by doing this that I can stop her being broody for ever, or at least, for an unlimited time. She is now done with her broody spell.

While Mango is broody she will only sit in the chicken shed so as long as I keep that closed the other girls can lay their eggs in the nest boxes and Mango doesn’t bother going in those. She settles in her corner of the chicken shed at night but once the pop hole has closed I lift her to the perch and she stays there.

Gold and Dot are still laying and Dot is the only laying flock member never to have gone broody.

All of the flock are now on layers pellets. It is advised to keep young ones on growers until they are between sixteen and eighteen weeks. I wanted to keep Autumn on growers for as long as possible but my growers pellets ran out when she was seventeen weeks. They ran out quicker with all eight girls having them. It wasn’t worth buying more as they come in such a big bag that most of them would be wasted so I decided to switch to layers.

Autumn has grown

We have had Autumn for five weeks and I mixed her with the flock two weeks ago. She has been going in the chicken shed from the first night that she joined the flock. She would sit in the corner and I would lift her to a perch each evening. Last night for the first time Autumn jumped to the perch herself.

While Cloud was broody and going to her corner of the chicken shed at bedtime, Mango stayed out in the run on her own. I was still having to put Mango in each night. But since Mango has gone broody Cloud has gone in to the chicken shed each evening. Not only that but from the first night Cloud has perched with no help from me. Progress at last!

It remains to be seen what happens when Mango stops being broody but I hope the habit of going in will continue. For the last three nights Cloud has gone in and perched.

Mango and Cloud are inseparable. They dust bath together, they sun bath together, they both go to the food dish together and they both go to the water together.

Mango and Cloud at the food dish together
Mango and cloud at the water dish together
Autumn has settled in beautifully
Autumn is golden

Autumn is such a beautiful girl. She also has a lovely nature and is very friendly. She has been totally excepted by the flock and none of the girls bother her at all. It so lovely to have a harmonious flock.

Posted in Chickens | 8 Comments

Autumn is joining the flock

Today it has rained heavily, non stop, all day. I wasn’t happy that Autumn’s half of the run had quite a lot of wet parts. I decided that it would be best to speed up integration and mix the flock from today.

At lunch time I let the girls mix. I put lots of extra feeding stations around the run and changed all the dishes to growers pellets. There are now five spots with food and water.

After a couple of hours I took my camera to the run.

Autumn ventures on to the patio area
The girls are quite relaxed together
The flock preening together
Autumn is quite relaxed with the flock
There are lots of feeding stations all around the run

Before bedtime I will close Autumn’s half of the run so that she has to stay on this side. It will be interesting to see what she does. I am hoping that she may follow the flock in to the chicken shed. That would be amazing but we will have to wait and see how it goes.


To my amazement at bedtime Autumn went into the chicken shed. She followed the other girls in and settled on the floor in the middle. She looked as if she wanted to jump up to the perch but wasn’t quite brave enough. I lifted her to the perch and she settled there. What a clever girl! Meanwhile Mango still didn’t go in until I opened the door for her. Sigh!

I am so pleased with Autumn and so not sure that Mango will ever get the hang of it. It’s been a very successful day for Autumn and I feel that the flock will be fine together now.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

A broody, bedtime routine and integrating

Cloud has gone broody after laying nineteen eggs in a month. Mango has laid twelve eggs in three weeks, she started laying a week later than Cloud. The day that Gold came back into lay was the day that Cloud went broody so it’s one in and one out.

I lift Cloud from her corner in the shed and put her in the run. She stays just where I put her until I move her along.

Cloud is broody

I am hoping that like Storm, Cloud, won’t be committed to being broody and I can soon break her out of it. I am closing the nest boxes and chicken shed once the laying girls have laid. Cloud settles in her corner of the shed at bedtime but I lift her to the perch and she stays there.

Cloud and Mango still haven’t got the hang of going in at bedtime. I can’t understand it because they go into the chicken shed to lay their eggs and now Cloud goes in there to sit while broody and yet they won’t go in at bedtime. If I put them through the pop hole they bounce straight back out. They were settling on top of the nest box nearest the shed. I blocked that off to them and they just hung around the patio area.

It doesn’t make any difference if I go out before the pop hole closes or after. When I then hold the shed door open for them they go in. I have also tried leaving the shed door open but they will only go in when I am there with them. We have never had girls take as long as this to get the hang of it and I am at a loss as to what else I can do. I had hoped with Cloud going in to sit at bedtime that Mango would follow her but she doesn’t.

I am mixing Autumn with the flock every day and she is getting braver. I change the dishes for growers pellets while Autumn is with the flock. I have now seen her eat from one of the dishes while the rest of the flock are elsewhere in the run. She needs three more weeks on growers to bring her up to the recommended eighteen weeks.

If Autumn gets brave enough to eat while with the flock I will put her with them and give the whole flock growers. I just want to be sure that she is able to eat properly. Today I put chopped tomato on the patio area to see if she would be bold enough to join the flock.

Autumn is getting braver
Chopped tomato brings the flock together

These are my first group photos of all eight girls. Autumn is on the edge of the group but she is getting braver. I am very happy with the progress and think they will all be together soon.

It will be interesting to see if Autumn gets the hang of going in the chicken shed at bedtime. At the moment she still settles in the corner nearest the patio area and I put her in her little coup each night. She may be more likely to go in when she is with the other girls. It would be good if she could teach Mango and Cloud but I won’t hold my breath.

I am really looking forward to having the whole flock together.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Mixing Autumn with the rest of the flock

Over the last few days the flock have managed to get into Autumn’s half of the run. After many years of poop picking the soil level in the run has dropped and the flock managed to dig under the dividing wire. Two days running I checked on the girls to find the flock on Autumn’s side.

While this has been great to give them time together and there was no bullying it meant that Autumn wasn’t able to get to the food dishes. She doesn’t yet have the confidence to compete with the flock for food.

I have now fortified the bottom of the dividing wire with planks of wood. Once back on her own side Autumn went straight to the food dish. I would love to speed up integration but until Autumn is confident enough to eat while with the flock she will have to stay separate.

Today I gave the girls the whole run together. After half an hour I returned Autumn to her side of the run and once again she went straight to the food.

Gold is having a partial moult

Gold has been dropping those fluffy grey, under, feathers and also some long tail feathers. Her short broody spell seemed to kick off this partial moult and she hasn’t been laying eggs. After two weeks break gold laid an egg today. I wasn’t sure if she would start laying again while dropping feathers and this is why I think this is just a partial moult at the moment.

Storm has also been dropping a few tail feathers and she hasn’t laid for the last ten days.

This is as close as Autumn gets to the food dish

I can see that Autumn wants to go to the food dish and she isn’t being chased away but she just can’t pluck up the courage to get closer than this.

The girls gather in Autumn’s part of the run
Autumn sneaks a few pellets

I removed Autumn’s small dish of pellets because the rest of the girls were flicking them out. Autumn did manage to pick up a few of the stray pellets without the girls noticing.

Autumn is almost part of the group
Mango and Cloud are always together

Coming in together has really bonded these two girls. They are inseparable.

Once Autumn was back on her side she went straight to the food and water. She is only three and half months old so I think she needs to be older before she will be confident enough to compete for food and I don’t want to do anything that will set her back. This means I must be patient and keep doing what I am doing, giving the girls some time together, but keeping Autumn in her half of the run for most of the time.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments

Autumn spends time with the flock

Yesterday and again today I gave Autumn some time with the rest of the flock. It went really well. I had found that putting another girl in with Autumn didn’t really work.

A couple of days ago I tried putting Salmon in with Autumn. It wasn’t long before Salmon was chasing Autumn so I took her out again. I then tried putting Gold in with Autumn because they often dust bath together with one girl on either side of the wire.

Gold didn’t bother Autumn at all but she did hog the food dish and Autumn didn’t have the confidence to go to the food. I decided that there isn’t really anything to be gained by putting a girl in with Autumn. I don’t want her to be unable to eat in peace and she has the flocks’ company from the other side of the wire.

The next step was to give Autumn time with the flock. I let her out of her side of the run but kept it closed to the flock. This makes it easier to get her back in when I think she has had enough.

Both yesterday and today it went really well. Most of the flock didn’t take any notice of Autumn. It was just Storm and Dot that chased her a bit. Storm used to chase Dot so I wasn’t surprised she chased Autumn too. Dot had been bottom girl until the new girls arrived so I wasn’t surprised that Dot also chased her. Dot had to let her know that she is now below Dot in the pecking order.

There wasn’t anything nasty though and Autumn was able to get out of their way.

Autumn with Mango and Cloud
Autumn and Gold
The girls take no notice of Autumn
Autumn and Dot before Dot gave her a small peck
Autumn finds the log
Autumn inspects the greenery
Salmon and Sugar ignore Autumn

I think Autumn would soon settle in with the flock. It’s a shame that she needs to be on grower pellets for at least another month.

I have been researching mixing girls of different ages. It’s important for the younger ones to have grower pellets because they can’t process the calcium in layer pellets and it can build up around their kidneys and cause lasting damage and shorten their life.

It says that if you have to mix different ages (if you haven’t space to separate them) then you should put the whole flock on the food the youngest member needs. If the laying girls are on growers they can top up their calcium from oyster shell, which we have in a hopper, on offer all the time.

With this in mind if I find it is becoming difficult to keep Autumn separate for another month I will put the whole flock on growers until Autumn is old enough for layers. It’s never been a problem when their are several girls together on growers but it is hard to see Autumn on her own and she makes it obvious that she wants to come out and join the flock.

I will play it by ear and make a decision when I feel the time is right. I don’t want to do anything that sets her back by her not being able to get to the food easily. I may start increasing her time with the flock and then put her back in her part of the run to eat and drink in peace. This was what I did with Mango and Cloud and that worked well.

I am very happy with how things are progressing.

Posted in Chickens | 6 Comments

Autumn now has a bigger space

As Autumn needs to be on her grower pellets for the next month I felt it was time to give her a bigger space. Now that she has settled in properly the time seemed right to give her more space to explore.

I closed the bottom end of the run by the ladders. I closed the dividing gate. I heaped the soil up against the dividing wire to stop the girls getting under then I opened up the hatch.

Autumn has a new bigger space
Autumn checks out Gold
Autumn investigates her new space
Autumn is very interested in the other girls extra food dish
The flock of eight are almost together

At this point I decided to move the main flocks’ extra food dish to a different place as I felt it was a distraction for Autumn. I felt it would make Autumn want to get to the dish.

Gold and Autumn check each other out

Autumn soon got used to the extra space and easily found her way back and forth from the new space to her feeding station in her original part of the run. She enjoyed having a good dig in her new part of the run followed by a dust bath.

The three game girls together

I thought this was a good comparison of Storm with the new game girls.

I will leave Autumn to get used to having her bigger space today. Tomorrow I might try putting Salmon in with Autumn for some company. If Salmon gives Autumn a hard time I will remove her again. I don’t know how they will get on together but think it’s worth a try. The bigger space should help.

It is as always a work in progress but so far so good.

Posted in Chickens | 4 Comments