Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chooks in an urban backyard

Still excited about chickens they have now become part of my daily routine.

The chook minding arrangement with my neighbour's hens, while she was on long service leave, worked well. I loved the sound of the chicken in the back yard and the daily eggs were a welcome addition to our menu. However, they never accepted the chook house we built for them and instead roosted behind he shed under a door that I leaned against the shed for protection against the rain and wind at night.

The neighbour came back on 5 September and she rightfully claimed her Isa Browns  back on Saturday 7 September, the day of the Australian election. I only returned four, as one had died in the three months I had them, probably of old age or too big eggs.

Time to act! As usual the universe provided again and just two days later, on 9 September, a friend of mine brought me some beautiful chickens back from Albany: four hens, and they survived the transport well. They had to stay in a big cardbord box for over 20 hours. They were picked off the roost at 9pm and then left in the box on a wheel barrow in the shade until if was time to leave for the 500k travel to Perth, around midday. I was told that one actually jumped out at a pit stop and nearly escaped the car, as they had left the windows down to allow plenty of air in the vehicle. But when the friendly driver got back the hen made her way back into safety quickly and jumped back in the box.

Another wheel barrow got the box including content safely into my big chook pen and when we tipped the hens out about 5:30pm they were in good shape and started scratching immediately. They also took to the water, as they were quite thirsty. Out of the box as well popped three intact eggs. They were fed and that night time the chickens rested under the plum trees near the fence.

Around 9pm I transferred them onto their roost. This generated  a bit of noise, as they were scared. But I knew I had to get them used to the roost immediately. Also they would have never found it by themselves. They soon settled down. It was easy to grab the while chooks in the night, not being well camouflaged. So fluffy and light they dd not put up much resistance, just the fourth one knew what was coming and tried to escape, but to no avail.

I watched them descent the chicken co-op ladder the next morning and they with a smile I saw them starting their new life. Shortly after that I found a fourth egg laid that night under the tree before the hens were moved.

They settled in well but are a lot more fickle than the Isa Browns my neighour has. This race is made up of a lot of Brahma without the fancy feet.I call them Perkins Beach chooks, after the place they came from.

They had a tough time in their first weeks as it has been raining a lot and there is not a lot of shelter, apart from trees or inside the roost. They found their co-op without fail each night and have produced a lot of eggs. I have actually not bought any eggs since I got my neighbour's hens and the cost of the laying pellets is negligible compared to the pleasure and fine returns that poultry bring.

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