Hey all. Ive been busy busy busy and haven't had much time to post, let alone get online. I started a new job and its been very time consuming.
I've got three young silver laced wyandottes I'm growing out at the moment- two cockerels and a pullet. I'm loving how one of the cockerels is looking so far, but I'm thinking the pullet and other cockerel will be culled. I'm glad to find a replacement for the cockbird I lost a few months ago, but I'm anxious to have him breeding so I can hatch some eggs. I think he might possibly be an improvement on his father. I have only one female I'd like to hatch from, and it makes me uneasy. I've got some space issues I would like to resolve but I don't see any easy way to do it. My family is searching for some land to buy so we can build our own barn and house on it, but its been a fruitless search so far. My cousin owns the barn and property my horses and the Marans stay at, and we are ready to have our own place where we can make changes and decisions more easily. Plus I can greatly expand the number of chickens I keep. I'd love to have two or three flocks of wyandottes throughout the year, instead of the four breeders I have now. Getting some property will be several years in the future at least.
I've put a lot of work into the barn lately. We finished the roof for the time being (as long as we don't expand anymore), wired and added lights, added some new entrances, done some general clean up, and we have someone coming out to give us a quote for some wooden fencing. We have electric fencing on t-posts reinforced with cattle panels along the entire outer portion, along with wooden posts. We have the pasture split in half with electric fencing, but want to replace it with a wooden fence, as well as replace some of the electric fencing closest to the barn with wooden fence. This will better keep large predators out of the pasture, as well as keep in my miniature horse and the miniature donkey we are getting in a few months.
One of my horses has had very poor health lately so the vet came out and diagnosed him with heaves (COPD) and seasonal allergies. We are going to fence in the immediate area around the barn as a dry lot for him, since he will be needing special care. The other five horses are turned out 24/7, but he needs to be stalled during the day, out at night, fly mask and fly sprayed, steroids given daily, and any hay has to be soaked. The vet also preferred that he be off grass if possible. So the dry lot will be a big help with that. He has been on steroids the last week and I've already seen a great improvement in his comfort, so I'm pleased with that.
Throughout all the barn work we were letting the Marans out every day and picking them up at night. We lost two hens on two separate occasions, and each time feathers were everywhere but there were no chickens to be found. This weekend we were clearing out the wood pile thats about 40 yards from the barn and found a massive den. There is a 3 foot in diameter hole in the side of the pile, with feathers all around it. I'm not sure what is living in it, but it clears the neighborhood dogs that we thought had got the hens. We put out a trap baited with canned chickens three days in a row next to the pile and caught some of the feral cats that live on the property. I need to get a cheap game camera and figure out what predator lives in there. I don't want to destroy the wood pile and it just relocate somewhere else.
My black japanese are doing well, and the cockerel is just about done with his molt. The whole flock of them have such beautiful feather condition, and the male has amazing sickle feathers. We saved one of the ones he molted and it is over a foot long. My oldest hen was just about naked after her molt. She dropped a lot of feathers at once and looked pretty pitiful. One of the hens is broody and sitting on an egg, but I am not sure if it is going to hatch.
I'll add a few photos in a little while to accompany all of the text. I apologize for the long post!