Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Poultry Update

The chicks purchased from the feed store this spring have grown into a lovely bunch. They're right at home in the chicken coop now. Also part of their "bunch" is a little Buff Cochin bantam rooster. He was in the "free to good home" pen in front of the feed store, and looked so cute (and lonely) I couldn't resist. We put him in with the babies and he now looks after "his girls" in the big pen. Since we lost our big rooster and our male guinea is busy these days, outside the pen with his harem, there's no one to pick on the little rooster, so everybody is happy.

BlackFluff and Baldy are still broody, sitting in there on golf balls and whatever other eggs they can get. I take them out and make them walk about and get some food and water, but they insist on getting right back onto the nests. Anyone have any tips on getting brooding hens back into production? The rest of the flock have all settled in, staying in the pen (I'm keeping an eye on them - the clipped wing feathers are starting to grow back) and laying regularly in the nest boxes now. It's so much easier than hunting for eggs all over the lot. We're getting from two to five eggs a day now.

Tweedit brought her family in, and they're at home in the dog run. She has six striped babies, that will end up black speckled like her, and nine lighter grey ones, that will look more like Grey, their dad (I can't differentiate sex until they get big enough to start calling - males make a one-syllable call "buck", females two "buckwheat"). Grey is a good dad, but he tries to keep an eye on his mate, Mrs. Guinea, too (Tweedit is their offspring, but obviously Grey is now mating with her too). Tweedit stays in the dog run with her keets at night. I moved the eggs left in her nest in with her, and she sets on them at night but I don't think any more will hatch so should get them out of there. Grey sleeps in the chicken coop, but EARLY each morning Tweedit starts calling for him. So I get up, go out and open up the coop, Grey flys over the fence and runs up to the dog run. I let him in and he stays the day inside with his family. The keets follow him around, same as they do Tweedit, and come running if he clucks to say he's found something good to eat or there's fresh water here.

Mrs. Guinea has a nest hidden in the neighbors' front yard. I followed her the other day, and then snuck back when she was eating a day later; she's setting on 21 eggs. About June 25th, Missus wasn't coming back to the coop at night, so I'm expecting her clutch to hatch in a couple more weeks (July 25th?). She comes up daily for a bite to eat and a drink of water. That's when it gets a bit noisy in the guinea pen. Missus wants food, and wants her mate to join her. Grey wants out to be with Missus. Tweedit doesn't like being left alone. If I'm home and hear the squawking, I'll let Grey out (he can fly over the fence if he wants, too). He'll run over to Missus as she eats, and then escort her back to her nest. Once she's settled back in, he'll come back over to the family, and stay with them until dusk. Then, Tweedit gathers the babies underneath her for the night, and Grey wants out. He'll wander about for a bit, looking for weed seeds or bugs, then flys up to the coop gateframe and goes in for the night.


frogtailrae said...

Grey is a busy, busy boy, isn't he? :-)

Sadge said...

And so funny when he runs. Guineas run in a quick little goose-step, and the thick feathers on his "drumsticks" look like fluffy bloomers poofing about.