Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Chicken family planning

We now have a lovely young Cream Legbar cockerel who happily announced that the sun had come up this morning. Once he is settled in I am sure that he will enjoy free-ranging on our organic smallholding.

This young chap is about six months old and I think he is jolly splendid. It seems that I am not the only one. The older girls, Jack and Diesel are smitten, they keep going over to his pen and making little noises at him that I haven't heard them make before. Diesel is just about wiping herself along the mesh on his pen and if she had long eyelashes, I have no doubt that she would be fluttering them at him.  A video of Diesel and the new lad talking to each other can be seen on YouTube at https://youtu.be/G6CeCkvdkN4
It's interesting to watch because as far as I know, these girls have never encountered a cockerel. It demonstrates just how strong that innate compulsion to reproduce is for these birds that live around us. All over the smallholding there are wild birds building nest, doing their mating rituals and starting to raise the next generation. It makes sense that the chickens would be doing the same.
There are two pairs of sparrows that are nesting in boxes just inside the stables and two more pairs in boxes on the barn next to the stable. I am delighted to have sparrows here, we didn't see very many when we lived in our last house and missed their cheery little faces and cheepy little song. I've spotted the usual suspects all over the place, bluetits, blackbirds and starlings for example, but I've also seen what I think are mistle thrushes in the paddock and I'm hoping that the barn owl we saw a couple of weeks ago is nesting not too far away.
Anyway, back to our new lad. He has a fine voice and isn't afraid to use it (video below). I've noticed this morning that the girls keep popping back into the chicken condo to see him before they head back out to scratch in the front garden or the paddock. I'm hoping that one of the girls will become broody before too long. Not only so that we can have a few young chicken, but also so that I can tuck a few duck eggs under a broody hen and let her sit on them. Our duck eggs are likely to be fertilised as the drake seems to be fairly efficient at his job, but the duck isn't showing any signs of being broody, so at the moment another bird would need to sit on her eggs. The young CLB chickens aren't laying eggs yet so are probably too young to become broody, but I'm looking forward to having CLB chicks at some point in the future. A very short video of the new lad crowing can be found on YouTube at https://youtu.be/m7IP_m6usko
Perhaps it's just a quirk of mine, but now that I can hear a cockerel crowing I feel that our home is indeed a proper smallholding. We are choosing not to name the animals, but I'm interested to know what other folks do. Do you name your animals? Does it pose any problems when it's time to dispatch and eat them?

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