Then in June we got four new pullets.
They were young, healthy, came from a good home, we extended their cage to give them more room to run and try to deal with their weight issues- they're broilers so they have been through generations of special breeding to make them get very big very quickly. But with limited access to grain feed they are encouraged to forage and we should avoid the heart attacks, knee problems and circulatory issues that can plague broilers that are allowed to live longer than the factory 12 weeks.
Then we were given the two ugly Thai fighting cockerels. I am rather proud to say they are happily and peacefully enjoying life. Still bloody ugly and raucous but quite placid. The girls still think they're a hoot and I've grown quite fond of them. They probably do something nasty to make them fight and this niceness is their natural temperament but I prefer to think it is my amazing animal husbandry skills and am taking full credit.
(Knock on wood) we also seem to have solved our predator problem. I've seen various droppings around the pen so I know the animals are still there but.... they're not getting in anymore. Yeah!
So, we've got everything covered, right? We should be up to our ears in eggs, yeah?
Friend and neighbour A and I were out there watching the chooks today. That sounds like the most boring thing you can imagine I'm sure but they really are quite interesting in a kind of hypnotic way. You go out to feed them and realise you've been out there staring at them for 10 minutes before you know it. Well, OK. I do anyway. And I have to confess I actually liked watching the live aquarium-cam when Channel 31 shut down for the night... Anyway, A and I were out there discussing the lack of eggs when she suddenly said:
"They're growing sickle feathers*. They're all roosters."
As soon as she mentioned it it was obvious. But I hadn't even considered it as Mr egg farmer told me they were pullets so I just assumed they were. Somehow over looked those rather sticky-uppy tail feathers...
Aghhhhhhh!!! So not only are my chooks not laying, they're not going to lay. I'm back to square one- buying feed, buying eggs and can't really add too many more chooks unless we extend the cage (again) or go completely free range which one neighbour has already vetoed.
I swear this whole chook business is turning out way more complicated than it should be. Certainly not for the chicken hearted....
*OK, she didn't say sickle feather and I wouldn't have understood her even if she did but after spending two hours tonight staring at chook butts on the internet I had to show off my new word somehow.
Sickle feather, sickle feather, sickle feather.