Chickens and eggs

We’ve made a start on culling the Year 1 cockerels. Last year we were fortunate in getting 9 hens and 5 cockerels. This year, out of our dozen, we had only 4 girls and 8 boys.

Although we left the hatch until fairly late, because of the unseasonably cold wet spring, they’ve matured quite early. The cockerels are fighting, crowing, and pressing their attentions on the hens. And much to our surprise, this morning we found a small brown egg, nicely formed and with a firm shell. We haven’t even put them on layers’ rations yet!

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But back at the meat chickens side of things, we culled the first two a week or so ago, and the second two this morning. That has evened things up in terms of boys and girls, but we still need to go down to one cockerel early in the new year.

When you cull a chicken, you withdraw food the previous night, so that its crop and stomach are empty. On Friday evening, we put a brick on the Grandpa feeder so that it couldn’t operate. Somewhat to our annoyance, one of the helpful poultry keepers on the allotment spotted that the feeder was blocked, and took the brick away, so on Saturday morning when we went to do the deed, the chickens had already had their breakfast. (Our fellow allotment poultry keepers have keys to our runs.)

So we put it off until this morning. Blow me down, exactly the same thing had happened, but we couldn’t delay any longer. They undoubtedly meant to be helpful, but I must find out who it is, and gently explain why we closed the feeder.

For anyone who hasn’t seen this blog before, we’ve had proper training in culling chickens humanely, thanks to the excellent Alison Wilson at Hook Farm. Here are today’s two, nicely plucked. They’ll be eaten on Christmas Day.

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