Predators Strike (Part 2)

As noted last time, 3 of our 4 new hens were missing, presumed dead.

The hen after she survived the initial attack.

We moved another hen from our flock to the chicken tractor so that the silver-spangled hamburg wouldn’t be alone. We also lined the outside of the chicken tractor with paving stones so nothing could dig right next to side and get underneath. This seemed to work as we saw no indications of any predators for several weeks.

After the quarantine period, we moved the silver-spangled hamburg and the other hen into the main barn so they could safely integrate back into the flock. They were inside a portable dog pen that was lined on the outside with chicken wire with a piece wood over the top. The barn has a concrete floor so the assumption was that nothing could dig underneath the pen.

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Predators Strike (Part 1)

Last fall, consistent with past practice (see here, here and here), we picked up 4 new hens from the NY State Fair.

There were 3 bantam-sized partridge cochins and 1 silver-spangled hamburg. They were all close to fully grown. The silver-spangled hamburg is a small breed, so although she wasn’t a true bantam, she was similar size to the bantam cochins.

The hens in their carrier being carried to the parking lot at the NY State Fair. The cochins preferred to try to stack on top of each other while in transit.

As the hens were new to our flock, we quarantined them in the moveable chicken tractor for several weeks. When quarantining the new hens, we placed the chicken tractor outside of the main fences.

The 3 Bantam Partridge Cochins enjoying the chicken tractor.

The chicken tractor is covered with wire mesh to both keep the chickens inside and keep predators out. As you can see in the above picture, the wire mesh is pretty small and anything that can fit through the mesh is unlikely to threaten an adult chicken.

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Random Photos from Spring / Summer 2018

Earlier this year in the spring I took a hike up our mountain to clean up any trash or debris that had blown onto our property over the winter.

I collected a handful of empty soda bottles (probably originally left by hunters on neighboring properties), some plastic bags, and 2 deflated balloons.

I also found a few other things in the woods:

There was a deer skeleton just onto our property. It may have died naturally over the cold winter, or it may have been shot and injured by a hunter and the hunter couldn’t track it. It appears to be the skeleton of a young buck – the antlers only have a few points.

A deer skeleton in the woods.

Deer skull with antlers still attached.

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Bonus Surprise from the New York State Fair (2017 edition)

The 1 Partridge Rock, 2 Andalusians and a fried dessert calzone weren’t the only things we picked up from the NY State Fair last year.

We also purchased a champion hen. Meet Mille:

Mille (Pronounced Milly)

Mille is a bantam Mille Fleur d’Uccle hen. Their plumage pattern looks like a bunch of small flowers and in French, Mille Fleur means “Thousand Flowers”.

Mille won …

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Surprise from the New York State Fair (2017 edition)

Long time readers may recall that we purchased several chickens from the New York State Fair in 2016.  We of course went to the state fair again in 2017, with extra time spent at the poultry building.

We ended up with a number of new chickens once again in 2017.

We really liked the intricate feather pattern on the Partridge Rock hen so we purchased the only one on display.  She is a bit older than many of the birds on display – she was over 2 years old and had already been in a number of shows and events before the fair.

Partridge Rock hen in her cage in the poultry building at the NY State Fair – 2017.

In addition to the Partridge Rock hen, we also purchased 2 Andalusian hens. Andalusians are fairly small for full size chickens and pretty fast on the ground. They are also decent flyers compared to other breeds. At least one of them has been flying up into the hayloft to lay eggs occasionally. They have a variety of coloring with blue (gray) with various black lacing. Our 2 Andalusians are named Andi and Luci.

Andalusian hen outside the coop.

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Baby Chicks Join the Flock

The day old chicks were already out of the house and in a crate in the barn.

They quickly outgrew the crate and needed some more space. At around age 6 to 7 weeks, we moved them into the movable chicken tractor so they could experience full outdoor weather for the first time and better hone their foraging skills before merging with the main flock.

The chicks in the chicken tractor.

Here is a video of the chicks their first day in the chicken tractor:


The chicken tractor is moved every couple of days to a new spot to avoid dead spots in the pasture from too much foraging and digging. After a couple of weeks in the chicken tractor, the chicks were finally ready to join the main flock.

Click through to see pictures and videos of the chicks joining the main flock.

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Baby Chicks Move Outside

The day old chicks we were raising outgrew their cage in the house after about 4 weeks.  They were ready to move outside to the barn. They didn’t need the heat lamp any more and were ready for more space and fresher air (the house needed to be aired out by that point as well!).

I used an outdoor pet exercise pen and covered the outside with chicken wire to make sure the chicks couldn’t squeeze out between the bars. I added a wooden crate and a cement block inside to give them something to climb and roost on. The floor is covered with pine shavings to help maintain cleanliness and provide the chicks with something to kick through.  The roof over the pen was just a scrap of wood from the barn to prevent them from flying out and any other chickens from getting in.

Four week old chicks out in the barn.

Click through for a video and more photos of the baby chicks.

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Day Old Chicks

New arrivals: we bought 6 day-old chicks!

Last year, we raised 3 bantam Cochins but they were already 6 weeks old when we got them. We also picked up a couple of hens from the NY state fair, but those were already grown.  This year, we decided to try starting with day old chicks.

We picked up our chicks from a local hatchery and brought them home in a small shoebox with a few air holes. They chirped loudly most of the drive home.

The chicks try to hide from the camera in the corner of their cage.

They are very cute and fluffy!

Click through for some more pictures!

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Mindy the Miracle Chicken

As you may recall, we lost a hen last spring to what was likely a case of egg yolk peritonitis (EYP). EYP is when the egg does not form properly inside the hen and then the yolk can remain inside the hen and cause an internal infection. EYP is almost always fatal.

A few weeks ago, another of our hens, Mindy, was exhibiting similar symptoms. She was somewhat more lethargic than normal and she was also walking upright like a penguin. We recognized the symptoms from our prior experience.  We separated her from the flock.

After last time, we had asked around the area and had been given the names of several local vets who are willing to see chickens. We packed her up in a travel dog crate and took her to the vet at their first open slot.

Mindy in a crate ready for transport to the vet.

Not surprisingly, in the waiting room, we were the only one with a chicken instead of a dog or cat.

After meeting with the vet, the situation was not looking great. Mindy’s abdomen was enlarged and somewhat solid to the touch. The vet could not provide a specific diagnosis and there were a number of possibilities, most of them were very likely to be fatal.

Mindy’s only realistic chance was exploratory surgery. The vet could not provide any likelihood for success because there are very few chicken surgeries (the cost of a chicken is so low compared to the cost of surgery that few people ever take chickens to a vet at all, let alone for a surgery). We opted for the surgery.

Her surgery was the next morning. Click through to see how it turned out. Continue reading