Chicken Bedtime

by Deb on December 20, 2010

Chicken

At the moment the chooks are living at the farm, the guinea pigs are at the old house and we are moving in between.  So our evening routine has been to feed the chooks and weed out a couple of big tubs of grass for the guinea pigs before heading back.  There are 13 of them and several seem to be pregnant, so building a new run where we can separate the males and females is becoming more and more urgent.

As an aside, the gender ratios are really going against us here.  They should be roughly half male and half female, they have X guinea pigsand Y sperm just like humans.  But of the 6 babies we’ve managed to sex so far we have 5 females.  And the 3 older ones are getting fatter.  Thank you random chance.  Plus the last time my husband was in town he spotted a little grey female, none of us had ever seen a grey guinea pig before.  And it looks like we’ll soon see what colours she throws, it will be interesting seeing the dominant male is mostly tan and brown.  This is what’s known as ‘exponential growth’ or possibly a ‘population explosion.’  So yes, a couple of very large tubs of grass for the guinea pigs.

Anyway, the chooks.  At night they like to roost, and not on the frame we dragged down to their enclosure.  Our house currently has lots of holes where walls have been ripped out or doors or windows are missing (moving in by Thursday!) and apparently they are prime roosting spots, nice and safe from any wild animals.  We were just trying to keep them out of the house itself, but now the workmen have precariously balanced about a hundred nice long metal beams that will become the supports of the deck (Thursday!).  If they aren’t all knocked down by the unco-ordinated chooks.  They seem to be right at the edge of the chooks’ flying ability and of course they don’t try to get up there until it’s practically dark and they are ready to sleep.

So we are catching them and taking them into a different yard where there’s another nice perch.  Things we’ve learnt so far:

  • There’s no point trying to take them over until they are ready to roost, just about dark.
  • Chooks are sociable.  The rooster doesn’t like being separated from his harem and whichever one you catch first will try to get back to the others.
  • Luckily they can’t fly over the fence in one go but need to hop up to the top, so a five year old standing at the fence can race up and down and flap her arms to stop them.
  • Get them under your arm with your hand supporting their breast bone and they’re pretty quiet.  The big girl can carry them like that and the little one gets a pat.
  • They don’t seem to have the ‘animal instinct’ that stops other animals trying to get through a hole that’s too small for them and will stick their heads through ridiculously tiny gaps.

Apart from that, they’re doing really well and seem to be loving it at the farm.  The rooster is enormous with beautiful green and bronze highlights in his mostly black feathers, almost enough to forgive him for being a rooster.  He’s definitely crowing, so we’ll see how bad it is when we are sleeping out there.  They are 5 months old so I wasn’t expecting any egg activity yet, but look what we found a few days ago:

yolk

It took us a while to work out that it’s a yolk, without shell or proper white.  This was taken in the afternoon so it had had several hours to dry out but that’s probably pretty much how it started.  I suspect the yellow powdery stuff used to be a yolk that either didn’t form properly or the membrane broke, the blotches are because the ants were industriously making off with it.  I haven’t seen anything else since but I haven’t been searching too hard, I’m sure there have been others I’ve missed.  So at least one of the chooks is beginning to ovulate – they are officially teenagers!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jasmine December 22, 2010 at 2:49 am

That is so neat! I suppose guinea pigs bredd as rapidly as rabbits then. I am going into veterinary medicine and I love learning new things. I will be delving into the large animal breeds, but I will definately have room in my heart and my house for the little creatures! Thanks for sharing your stories
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