Uncertainty

Spring showed itself today in the form of a warm, breezy afternoon. With the new season, comes the longing for chicks. I keep stealing glances at the Tractor Supply, and searching baby chick pictures on Google. Its an addiction. No, really- there is something called “chicken math” which is basically a giant excuse chicken owners use to get more chickens. For instance, if I had 20 chickens, but three of them were roosters and five were no longer laying eggs I would reason that instead of 20 chickens, I had 12, because roosters and old hens don’t count. So really, I need 8 more hens.

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I find that this way of thinking is extremely tempting as pictures of fuzzy chicks fill the screen. And I think. What kinds would I get? If I could of course… I go onto hatchery websites and fill up my online “cart” with different breeds, pretending that I am chick shopping. Then comes the scheming… If I just got three more, and expanded the coop slightly then I could…

You get the point. You also probably think I’m crazy.

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But something besides chicks eats at the back of my mind. Mr. Edith has been mating with all three hens for the past few weeks. As you know, he is a large beast. I observed (its not as creepy as it sounds) him mating with Mary, who is quite a big hen, and he completely pinned her to the ground. A gust of air seemed to whoosh out of her, followed by horrified squawking. Mabel, a very small girl, has a bare patch on her back, exposed to the air. So does Cora. And his spurs are developing right before my eyes.

Edith is becoming a real rooster. Not the cuddly buddy he was earlier this year, though he still lets me pick him up and pet him. And he is doing some damage to my hens. Or, his hens, rather. I know he would die for them, he is gentle with humans, and even does the mating dance for Cora. But I also know that he would be better off with more hens to mate with- more than three.

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With these thoughts in mind, I feel immediately guilty. How am I supposed to tell if this is just greedy me trying to make room for more chickens, if this is cruel me getting rid of an animal for doing its purpose, or if this is practical me looking out for the safety of my hens. My mind is certainly troubled. The very last thing I want is for him to end up being processed and butchered. He is such a fantastic animal! And he is so very good to me and his girls. Mr. Edith has even grown on my parents, and his crowing is music that soothes my soul. Any advice from my fellow chicken owners?

Once again, I am at a loss on what to do.

On the bright side- I’m now getting three eggs a day! Mary, the new egg layer, produces a gorgeous light brown-shelled egg

 

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6 thoughts on “Uncertainty

  1. CastIronDan says:

    I believe that I am a victim of “chicken math” too! Although we have plenty of chickens – I just placed 25 eggs into the incubator last Friday… I am hatching out some black copper marans and some americanas. My answer to your question is that a few more chickens wouldn’t hurt!

  2. Belladonna Took says:

    Well … I’ve been poking around looking at chicken blogs today (because my hens look awful – all skinny with big bald patches – and I need to know what to do for them). One place I read said a roo needed at least 8 hens. So there’s that.

    Plus, you need an Ameraucana, or better still and Araucana, because no basket of home-grown eggs is complete without a blue one!

    And you know you can get jackets to protect your hens from his spurs, right? Just google “chicken jackets” – there are patterns, if you’re good at sewing, and also lots of places sell them.

    • caitlinmlew says:

      I hope your hens are feeling better, and that you have discovered their issue. I find that Backyardchickens.com is a really great resource, though I always double check with other websites and books to make sure what they say to do is actually helpful.

      Very good reasoning right there! :D. I was really hoping my Easter Egger hen would lay blue eggs, but alas, they are white. I’ll have to get another one…

      And as for the jackets, I am about to order a few of them off of Amazon, so hopefully they will work!

      • Belladonna Took says:

        Thanks for the website suggestion – I’ll check it out. Our hens just look scrawny and horrid! Himself told me he’d seen some pecking going on, and based on my reading that could be either because they’re bored, or because they’re lacking protein. We’re letting them out of their run for a few hours every afternoon now (their run is quite large, but clearly not enough to entertain them, and every time they see us they come running and cluster up against the gate, begging to be let out!) They spend the time scratching, eating lots of grass, and – presumably – digging for worms. Once we’ve finished putting a dog-proof fence around the veggie garden I’ll be able to let them out pretty much all the time except when I have young greens growing … There are three fruit trees in their run, which they enjoy in the summer, and I’ve been reading about treats (like growing mealworms and hanging up a cabbage pinata!!) that I can fix for them. So I hope they start fluffing out soon! I may need to try those jackets myself, and I’m thinking of worming them too.

  3. caitlinmlew says:

    From my limited experience it sounds like you’re doing everything right! I noticed some pecking in my own flock so I added a roost and just put a planter pot upside-down for them to sit on (which seemed to do the trick). I’ve also been sprinkling some of their feed in the dirt, which occupies them for a while. It couldn’t be molting could it?

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