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Chicken Sagas

Who would have thought that 3 little yellow bundles of fluff that we acquired in September would be the result of so much learning, heart ache, joy, vets visits but as of yet not one egg.

I have blogged about getting the chickens before. How we got them from day olds and built a coop for them and have been waiting for them to lay some eggs. Well the egg laying female chickens that we were supposed to have gotten are in fact broilers, but the drama does not stop there.

Caleb’s chicken who was by far the biggest turned out to be a boy and started crowing. Not good;
1) the coop is outside my window and
2) we stay in a residential area and are not supposed to have Roosters.

We also adopted Carle’s 3 chickens that she got from the fete because being broilers they were not made for wild farm life as they can’t fly up into trees at night due to their size. One of hers also turned out to be a rooster. He was very small though and was called Little One by the kids, he had funny toes

Jackie who was Caleb’s rooster was actually a lovely natured bird, he was protective over Gertie who can’t walk well ( other story I will get to…) he allowed Carle’s chickens to integrate easily into the flock with no fighting. But he had to go, but being a broiler he was not much use as a farm chicken and the only option really was the pot. There was no way that he could go in our pot. I know it is a bit hypocritical but I can’t eat a bird that I have raised and name and known. We only had 3 to start and then 6 so a small flock, not a big group that are more anonymous.

Carle’s rooster went back to her for one of her workers to take home and Jackie went with our domestic. I was actually really sad on the day. Fortunately the kids were visiting my mom in Pretoria and so were spared seeing him go to his fate. I did tell them and they were very sad but my parents helped chat to them and I promised Caleb a laying chicken for when he got home.

The day Jackie left was also the day that I had Gertie at the vet, yes I took a chicken to the vet. Much to the amusement of all the people in the waiting room. Her ( well at this point what we thought to be a her) legs were sort of knock kneed. She can’t walk properly and walks a few paces and then collapses. The vet was not sure what was wrong but gave her antibiotics and said that broilers are not made to live very long and so they get congenital defects. It seemed to get a little better but is now really bad again.

I fortunately needed to go out straight after the vet and was not actually home when the domestic took Jackie. I did wake up that morning with a sick feeling in my stomach, they are like pets and less like just livestock. Sending your pet to the slaughter is horrible.

I went to join the kids in Pretoria for Christmas and forgot about chicken drama for a while. When I had discussed loosing Jack on twitter @mattallison said he had an extra Koekkoek, he wanted 3 and he had 4. She was laying and he was happy for her to go to a new flock. On Saturday we arranged to go and collect her, Caleb was really excited as she was to replace his Jack, he said that this chicken also had to be called Jack.

He picked one of the birds, they are so much prettier than our broilers. She came home with us and I let her out in the garden

and after she had walked around for a bit I let the other 4 ‘girls’ out.

I have been wondering for a while why Rachel’s Lily does not look like Potter and Lavender ( Carle’s remaining 2) who are clearly hens, they have a rounder lower body shorter legs and neck.


Well we were soon to find out. Lily, after ignoring the new comer for a while started squawking at her, this turned into crowing and a cock-a-doodle-do by the evening. Lily was in fact Lionel! Now 2 out of our 3 original female laying chickens from the church bazaars have turned out to be male. Can’t trust the church bazaar.

Rachel is devastated and there has been much crying. But Jack used to crow only once in the morning and as soon as we let him out of the coop he was happily eating and not crowing. Lily started crowing at 5am today and has hardly stopped, seems like the arrival of the new Koekkoek laying chicken has kicked his hormones into over drive. He is also not as nice as Jack when it comes to welcoming new members to the flock. The poor new Jackie, who was at first ignored is now a bit picked on by him. He does not actually hurt her but crows at her a lot and does not allow her near the food in the coop and keeps her away from where the rest are free ranging during the day. So it is off to the pot for Lily/Lionel too.

But the drama does not end there. Poor Gertie is really not walking well and after rethinking Lily’s gender I had a good look at Gertie too. It is easy to forget what shape she/he really is as he can’t stand or walk very well. She walks with her knees totally together for a few steps then just drops down. Her feather also look horrible and molting.

Lily and Gertie now Lionel and Gert

I always said that as long as she seemed to be eating and managing we would keep her but today she has not eaten well and could not get up into the coop so I think I need to cull her too. And looking at her I think she might be a he too.

What a disaster, out of the 6 chickens 4 have been rooster!

But on a happy note Jackie the 2nd laid and egg today in our nesting boxes so this is good. We put some wooden toy food eggs in and she seemed to get the hint that this was the place.
The real egg is in the middle

Caleb and Jackie