Z is a bit obsessed with chickens

Things are getting better in chicken land.  The newbies are still perfectly happy and all are laying most days – I’m giving away eggs, it’s all a bit much, which makes it remarkable that I want some chicks from Rose’s bantams …but there is a reason for that,

Bad things have happened and I’ll just say what’s the current situation.  I have the last of the original bantams, one Serama hen and one cock, and one other hen, the big brown one.  The rest are dead.  I am frantically trying to get rid of vermin that kill my chickens, it’s making me overreact perhaps.

Watching them, over the past few days, has been interesting.  The old guard are still in the coop.  The big brown hen is mostly in the sleeping quarters, as is the final bantam, Mona.  But the cockerel, Crow, and the Serama hen, Yvette, are out in the open part.  Crow hops on to the drinker, presumably to make himself look as big as possible to the newbies (the three new black  hens) and I’ve also seen him *having it away* with Yvette, which I’ve only previously seen once in the year he’s been living here.

Yvette is tiny.  She probably weighs about a pound, whereas the Newbies must weigh about 4 pounds each.  But she is being assertive with the chief newbie – they mimic each other, with the wire cage in between them.  They both scratch in the earth and seem not to notice the other, then square up, puffing up their breasts and posturing, then go back to scratching.  When they finally get together, Yvette will run away, no question, but she’s being braver than her bigger cousins right now.

The old guard are in a wooden-framed coop with a sleeping area and a wired area.  Rats are nibbling away at the wood and I’ve had to protect it with bricks.  They’re getting so bold that they are out in the day – Rose’s cat Rummy has caught a few of them, but not enough.  I can put up with them eating the food left over – I always pick up the dishes at the end of the day, but there’s some scattered on the ground – but I’m scared of smaller rodents getting in and attacking a hen, because it’s happened already.  So I set traps last night, and caught rats, and will have to carry on with it.

Anyway, on a brighter note, the reason I want some chicks is not that I really need more chickens, though there is a bit of that: – its that we’ve had the churchyard chickens for over 30 years and I don’t want the strain to die out.  Mona doesn’t lay eggs any longer, she must be quite old.  But Roses still has three of them, and an unrelated bantam cock, so a few more would carry on a strain of lovely, healthy, long-lived bantams that are a link to good times gone by.

3 comments on “Z is a bit obsessed with chickens

  1. Blue Witch

    This is, you’ll be pleased to know, my last comment on this subject…

    The only long-term answer to rodents is the peck feeders previously suggested… killing them when they appear just does not solve the core problem, and even if you get rid of all of *these* rats, some more will take their place, because there is an easy food source (hen food) and another (harder one) for when there is no food (ie hens).

    The lady down the road, who looked after our hens for 5 days while we were away (as the house-sitter had to go away unexpectedly for this time), and has had enormous hen/rodent problems, now has a peck feeder (as a result of watching ours in use) and delightedly told me last week that she no longer has to have the ‘rat man’ out every 2 weeks.

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  2. Blue Witch

    And…

    Please don’t think that I am being unsympathetic to your problems… I know how heart-breaking it is when something is happening to your animals that you feel powerless to solve, and I totally understand wanting to keep cherished lineage alive. That is why I keep banging on about the only solution!!!

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  3. Z Post author

    I know it’s not solving the problem, but last night they started chewing the new shed door – though I caught four of the little bastards. I really need to get rid of the current lot of rats – there are a lot of them and if there’s no food, they’ll look elsewhere. Years ago, there were some building turned into flats for a while, down the road, and they put out bin bags full of rubbish (before the days of wheelie bins) which attracted rats. It was only a couple of hundred yards away over the field, and they came here too. I didn’t care to go into the kitchen garden after dark as they ran all around, and they ate all my sweetcorn that year. So I do feel I must kill some now, much as I dislike the whole thing.

    I might get the peck feeder, it’s a more practical proposition in the greenhouse than it was in their other house as there’s more space – but I still think it won’t help the little hen eat, I’ll have to put out other food for her. She’s a quarter of the size of the biggest ones and she gets chased away by the big brown hen. Even when there’s plenty of food and she accepts she comes last in the pecking order, that chicken will chase her rather than let her eat. And, if there’s no food for the rats, what’s to stop them going for the chickens? Although actually, I haven’t had rats attacking chickens ever, as far as I know. It’s the holes they make that other rodents get through, I think. In thirty years, we’ve never had this much of a problem, I’m really unnerved, but not without reason.

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