If you’ve been watching my recent vlogs, you’ll know that there have been a few changes with the poultry here at Shawpits. Since the lifting of ‘Cluckdown’, I have moved the pens over to one corner of the garden, and will be fencing off an area of north-facing garden for the chooks to have for their free-range time.
I have one hen who has gone broody, and she is sitting on 4 eggs from the Wyandotte x RIR pairing I have bred from before. She is brooding them in her usual accomplished manner, and gets off the nest on a daily basis to preen and bathe. The chicks are due to hatch on the 28th April.
My lame chicken is still reluctant to stand, although she did manage to walk over the bonfire and singe her bottom – thankfully no lasting damage…
My little call duck Fudge sadly died this week, leaving his father John on his own. They’ve been together since John and his mate hatched them way back in 2012 – the mother was taken by the fox and he brought up the 4 ducklings. I sold 3 young ducks as a trio and kept Fudge with his dad, so poor John is a bit bereft. I visited a local plant nursery where they sell poultry alongside their incredible selection of sweet peas, with a view to purchasing an older female who would cope with John’s amorous attentions. Needless to say, they didn’t have any older females for sale, so I acquired two 4 week-old Welsh Harlequin ducklings which are already almost the size of a call – huge feet! They are unsexed so I’m not sure whether I’ve got a duck and a drake, two ducks, or two drakes, but either way, it doesn’t really matter. They can’t go in with John yet so I’ve put them in a pen next to him so he can hear their whistles and squeaks. To be honest I think he’s more interested in the chickens!
They are still a bit shy! I was concerned they might be cold last night so I stuffed a load of hay along the back door to keep the draughts out. In a few weeks they should have more feathers, and hopefully the temperatures will start to stay above freezing overnight from now on.
The hens are all still laying really well and enjoying nettles and comfrey from the garden.