Rebuilding My Flock

| 8/21/2017 10:36:00 AM

Jennifer Quinn

Sandy with chicks

This has been a bad year for poultry at Panther’s Hollow, so I haven’t posted anything about my birds since late winter. After losing most of my flock to predators, I had high hopes of rebuilding it this year, but my three attempts at incubating eggs all failed. Incubating is trickier than I thought, but I’ll explain that in a separate post.

Fortunately, I managed to hatch five chicks around July 1 with the one hen that went broody this year. It probably would have been 10 if I hadn’t trashed five eggs after candling that, when I broke them, turned out to have normally developing embryos. Candling is another tricky business, but more about that later.

Meanwhile, my one really good pullet from last year — a terrific asset for my breeding flock — got picked off by a hawk one day. That left me with only one decent layer — a guinea hen, surprisingly, who faithfully laid an egg in the nest box almost every day. But one night my dear guinea hen simply would not go into the coop, but kept endlessly circling it, picking at this and that. I think she was suffering from mites, which I had neglected to keep after with timely applications of Diatomaceous Earth inside the coop.

After returning a couple of times after dark to try and coax her inside, I finally gave up. Not surprisingly, later in the evening something put her to a noisy chase, which ended with my finding only a mess of feathers near the house next morning. Since she was my last surviving guinea, I decided it was time to start over with four purchased guinea keets. Here they are in the doorway of my new poultry house. (I’m trying to train them to go in and out on their own, but at this point I have to lure them with food.)

Keets in doorway