This summer while on holidays, I made a new pen at the end of the existing chicken run for separating out young chickens and feeding them up on pullet grower. Of course, that’s not what it is currently being used for because two hens sat together and raised a total of two chicks and as they were in the turkey house, they had to be moved. The reason being that, 1) the turkey male is huge and 2) because the pen hasn’t got a cover and chicks are therefore prone to attack by crows and/or currawongs. So I moved both hens with their one indulged chick to this new pen complete with roof cover. The other chick wasn’t with them because a day earlier it had begun to run amok in the turkey house and I could hear its peeping from our house, a good 30 metres away. I rescued it and put it in with the two chicks raised and hatched in an incubator on Christmas Eve now currently in the brooder. Then I frantically worked to finish the new pen for the new mothers.
The crazy chick eventually settled down and was there in the brooder a few days before I had the brilliant idea to reunite it with its parents and also to put the Christmas chicks in with them too. My grasp of chicken psychology is usually good. That day it was at an all-time low. I put the three chicks in the pen with the mothers and their one, totally spoilt chick, during the day. Normally you would introduce new chicks to a hen while she is still sitting on the eggs when they have started to hatch, thus deluding her that the introduced ones are ones she has hatched. This does work, however, when you introduce chicks to a hen in the day when she can see that they are not her chicks she will peck them. This I did not realise at first.
Later in the day, I heard furious cheeping from a distressed chick. One of the Christmas chicks had gotten itself under the wire and was cheeping for its life in the enclosed turkey raising pen where the female turkey is currently sitting. I managed to grab it and put it back with the hens, their chick and its brother. A few hours later it was out again and cheeping in a distressed way behind the turkey hutch. So again I picked it up and put it back. This time I watched it. I ran to the other chicks and one of the hens, the Iso-brown one pecked it. So, now I understood, 1) the hens had rejected the new chickens and 2)the chick had escaped into the turkey run because it was being pecked. So I picked up the two Christmas chicks and put them back in the brooder, where they will stay until they are big enough to go back to the new pen. I can put more of the older chickens from earlier hatchings in with them and so they will be ok next time.
Yesterday, I took one of the Langshan black hens and her four orange chicks to the new house. She of course, went straight to the dirt and rolled around in it to get rid of lice. Her four chicks, who are about 3 weeks old, have settled in well as they have a mother to look after them. One of them, to my delight is a Frizzle! These chickens have extremely stick out feathers all fanned out and fancy-the glamour chickens of the poultry world. So far, we have only bred rooster Frizzles so let’s see what comes of this latest chick.
Turkey update: In total we raised one turkey chick in 2015. Of the three left, one died and one was attacked and killed by currawongs. This lead to my hasty covering of the turkey hatching pen with bird netting. The mother is currently sitting on 10 eggs again but I’m not sure how many are fertile. She is also sitting on a chicken egg. I didn’t have the heart to remove it so in the not too distant future, I’ll have another chick to go in the brooder. Hopefully the two Christmas chicks can be its minder and teach it how to drink and peck feed. Adios!