New arrivals in the hen run

Every so often, maybe once every one or two years we need to re-stock the hen run. This is not necessarily due to deaths but often because hens have retired from laying and are living out the rest of their natural lives in well-earned leisure. This year we thought we would raise some more of our own chicks as lockdown afforded us the time to do so but unfortunately the normally obliging Orpington hens who are so good at being broody, resolutely refused to be so this year. However our neighbour (another hen fancier) had more luck so we gave him half a dozen pure bred Orpington eggs to put under his broody. She readily accepted them and the resulting hatchees are now all doing well. The problem with raising your own chicks though is that it is difficult to determine their sex until many weeks have passed and even then, the proportion of cockerels to hens is normally greater. So, until retirement beckons we will carry on re-stocking from time to time. 

Whilst we love our pure bred hens and particularly love their multi-coloured eggs, they don’t lay all year and normally take a couple of months off for a rest around November to January, resuming laying as the light levels rise. for this reason we normally keep a few hybrids too, as they lay more reliably year round. This time though, we wanted to add to our pure breds so with a better choice than expected we chose another buff Orpington, two splash Araucanas, a Copper Maran and two Golden Legbars. These lay everything from a chocolate brown egg to a light turquoise. Call us egg snobs but we find that each of the different eggs has a particular purpose for which it is perfect. Some are great for boiling, others better for baking. It just depends.

During lockdown it appeared that every man and his dog wanted to try their hand at hen keeping so hens were in short supply. There was even talk, in poultry circles, of hen rustling going on so we took precautions and upgraded security measures. Hen food too, was in short supply for a while but eventually our local farm supplies shop set up their socially distancing ‘Cluck and collect’ service. Thankfully, we all survived to see the other side of lockdown.  Now, I’m pleased to report that the new girls have joined the flock and are settling in well. Graham the cockerel is especially happy to see some newcomers so, who knows, maybe next year we’ll try again for some chicks!

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