I have been very remiss in not blogging about the older gals and their roosters. It isn’t for lack of information to share because they have been keeping me as busy as the little girls have been.
Unfortunately Foghorn has been put in solitary confinement due to his violent amorous ways. I had to partition off a section of the coop to keep him away from the ladies. Houdini and the gals couldn’t be happier about it. Foghorn not so much.
What could poor Foghorn be doing to cause lock-up you ask? Well lets just say he is not a gentle lover! I defend him in saying he must just be young and excitable, but I’m not so sure that’s the reason. Once the little girls are old enough and are added to the flock I may allow him a parole, because I have read that the more hens you have the roosters calm down and act a little more sane.
Now on to the cause and effect of Foghorn. His favorite ladies were the Blue Marans which is not surprising since they grew up together. Now you may be wondering how I know these two were his favorites. NO I am not a voyeur spending my time watching the love lives of my chickens.
The picture below shows you how I know. Poor ladies – they are a mess, badly in need of a day at the salon.
Since a trip to the salon was not an option I tried to find a solution that would protect their backs. Of course after a quick google search I had my solution. Hen Apron….. yes you heard me right.
What is a Hen Apron?
A hen apron, or chicken saddle, is a device you put on your hens to protect their backs from roosters during mating. When roosters mate with hens, the hens often sustain feather loss and cuts and gashes on their backs and shoulders that can lead to infection, picking, cannibalism and death.
Yes, I ordered the butterfly camouflage design – it was just too cute!
After a trip to the mailbox to retrieve my hen aprons I patiently waited for dusk to fall and the ladies to enter the coop. The Marans were obviously not handled when they were younger and really don’t like to be picked up so the best and calmest way to catch them is to remove them from the coop at night when they have roosted. At dusk I headed out to the coop with the aprons and a flashlight, I grabbed the first gal and placed the apron on her with no problems. Set her back on the roosting bar in the coop and grabbed the next hen to place her apron on her. While I was slipping her into her apron I heard loud bangs from the inside of the coop. I shined the beam from the flashlight into the coop to see the hen on the floor on her back doing flips. No I am not exaggerating. Well, of course I was worried I had placed the apron on her wrong and immediately took it off her so that she wouldn’t hurt herself. I ran into the house to read through the instructions and guess what. That is a normal response so says the website, under FAQ. urghh. It states that it may take a day, week or a month for them to stop doing this. Well, I haven’t been ambitious enough to try to catch the ladies during the day and put the aprons back on them. Though I think soon I must try because they seem to be getting sunburns on their bare backs, so it’s either the apron or sunscreen.
The silkies seem to all be doing well, Al is a much happier guy hanging with his peeps. One of the little girls has started to roost up with him at night, but the other silkie rooster and hen prefer to sleep in the nesting boxes. To each his own. I think because roosting wasn’t offered to them before they came here they haven’t taken to it yet.
Last but not least Grace decided to go “broody”, which means she decided she wanted to be a mom.
Laying on the eggs all day, she actually had the other hens laying their eggs almost on top of her because she would refuse to move. Trying to discourage her from her broodiness, I would go out several times a day (wearing gloves) to reach into the nesting box to pick her up, (she would peck me, yell at me, puff up her feathers in indignation) and I would place her as far away from the coop as was possible. I would run back to the coop in a race with her to remove all the eggs before she made it back to resume her broodiness. I am sure I have been called all sorts of nasty names in chicken speak. The problem with having a broody hen if you do not want to hatch eggs is that it takes its toll on your hen. She will stop laying eggs and only get up once a day to take a quick drink and eat and she will also probably have ‘broody poos’ (the not very nice result of keeping everything held in for hours on end!). BIG I mean BIG!
Its in your hens and your best interest to stop them from being broody. Sometimes you have to remove them from the flock and place them in a crate for a few days to make this happen. What worked for me was over a few days while I was out working in the yard I opened up the run and let everyone out into the gardens. I took Grace and placed her as far away from the coop as was safe and let her work her way back. She would get distracted by a bug, or a good place to scratch and after 3 days she has stopped being “broody” and she is speaking to me again!
Thats all for now, but I have been trying out some interesting feeding strategies so I will be sharing them soon.
Have a great day!