Four New Pullets

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Quinn
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Here’s a somewhat belated report on the newest additions to my chicken flock. I mentioned back in August that four of my five chicks turned out to be pullets [Rebuilding My Flock]. As for the cockerel, I had planned to cull him, though he looked promising, because I already have a good rooster and don’t need another one yet. Then the guy down the road who sometimes buys chickens from me wanted him, so I arranged to trade him for a young Rhode Island Red, which became my next meat bird.

Meanwhile, the four pullets have been coming along nicely, and a couple have begun laying very small (1 3/8 ounces) eggs every two or three days. Since I haven’t yet caught one laying, I don’t know which ones to thank, but I’m pretty sure I know who one of them is. The rooster had begun mating with her a few weeks before she produced her first egg, and they say roosters only mate with hens that are laying. (Or about to begin laying, I guess.) I wonder how they know?

When the weather gets warmer I’ll have to go in the coop some night after they’re asleep and do an evaluation—distance between keel and vent; distance between pelvic bones; are they pointed and flexible, etc. I wish I had someone to help me with this. At least I have a cap with lights now, but it’s awkward having to hold them with one hand, measure with the other, then try to write down the results before I forget them!

I hope they ramp up production this week with the warmer weather, because my two hens are still molting. One looks to be nearly finished, thank heavens, after more than two months, but my older hen—who I thought was finished after a six-month molt—has again lost some tail feathers and stopped laying. Both hens seem to be growing their new feathers nicely after a week or so on feather-fixer ration. But old Flan’s comb is still very pale, so I’m not expecting anything out of her soon. She’s been such a terrible layer, I would have culled her by now except that she was an excellent mother, raising ten beautiful chicks for me in 2016.

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