Wednesday, July 4, 2012
We understood that it was normal for hens to reduce egg production as they aged and we were on the fence about whether to order chicks this spring or try to find some older birds that had been started by someone else.
My husband found some hens at an open air market at our Tractor Supply Company store. Every month there has been a mini-market where area producers set up. We decided to see if we could find some chickens. Mind you, we made this decision on Sunday morning as we were getting ready to run to town for errands. We had to get things in order quickly to make it before the market closed up for the day because of the heat.
We found the dog kennel in the basement, reviewed our list of errands, and counted our cash. The market had several different types of birds, including a really fancy show bird. We weren't in the market for a $20 show bird, but it was pretty.
We ended up buying 10 hens. The next challenge was introducing them to the existing birds without subjecting the new birds to a lot of what I will call chicken hazing. The establishment of a pecking order is always a little hard to watch. One way we hoped to make things easier was by buying older birds instead of trying to start our own chicks and raise them until they were big enough to hold their own in the pen.
Our plan was to keep the new birds in the kennel in the shade with plenty of water through the day. At night when the existing birds were getting sleepy and beginning to roost, we would put the new birds in the pen. My thought was everyone would wake up in the morning and think, "wait, have you been here the whole time?"
We kept and eye on the new birds all afternoon and moved them a couple of times to give them fresh grass. At about 9 p.m., we moved the kennel in place and shooed everyone into the pen. The next morning, all seemed to be going well.
Now, we wait until our new birds reach the point of laying eggs. It will be good to again have a dozen or so eggs each day.