Friday, February 01, 2008
Our main predators here are coyotes and hawks. The coyotes haven't caught on to the fact that we have chickens, I guess. Or maybe they're afraid of the dogs. The hawks try for them every now and then, but the hens generally stay under cover. We have a lot of trees and bushes right around the house. We haven't lost even one full-grown bird. We did lose some chicks that somehow got out of the coop, I'm sure my cat got them. That was really sad, I could imagine them crying while being caught, and Goldie frantic but unable to do anything about it. One was the gorgeous golden chick at the top of the previous post.
I should add that any stray dogs that come through the area could make short work of my flock. I've been able to catch or chase off any that have come through so far. It happens very rarely.
I do plan on starting to pen them in at night again, but right now I don't want to make them stay in their coop, it's too filled with snow.
Once they start laying you can expect about an egg a day, or slightly less. Out of 6 chickens we generally get five a day. When we can find them. This fall we were getting 2 a day because we only found two nests. When we had 12 chickens we couldn't eat all the eggs, so I gave some of the birds away, inculding our gorgeous (but loud) rooster. During the winter they're not laying at all. If you keep a light in their coop they will keep producing, but not quite as much.
Another odd fact is that if you don't have a rooster, usually one hen will start to behave like one, and may even start to look like one, and she won't lay.
Our chickens are mainly pets. I could imagine eating some that I raised knowing they'd be food, but I couldn't eat my special hens. And there's so much work involved in butchering that it's not really worth it (to us) for so little meat. Turkeys make more sense for that (but they poop a lot bigger!)