I havent posted in a while, but I'm still keeping chickens and they are still free ranging. It has been one and a half years since i got my first chickens. I started with 11 and i dont have many of those original birds left. I bought more chicks and some hatching eggs and right now i have twenty chickens. I let them raise chicks when they want.....i mostly make sure they are not sitting on more than six eggs just so i am not overwhelmed with high numbers of chickens. I keep my two bantam Cochin birds in a pen so that i know what the babies are. The others are locked up at night and run all day and they have babies that are a mix. Five or six of those birds died at different times from non predator reasons. I dont know what happened to them, but it was not anything that spread through the flock. I suspect that a few were old. I didnt always buy just babies. I like to have grannies in the flock, too. ;0)
The little frizzle Cochin had been sitting on thirteen eggs. I couldnt reach her nest easily to take eggs out so i let her keep them. I counted yesterday and she is down to seven eggs. I have used a dipper to reach in and scoop them out as she pushed them out of the nest. I think they should be hatching yesterday or today and i havent seen any chicks yet. Sigh. I am going to the swap next week and see if i can get a couple that might be more inclined to go broody. None of my except the Cochin want to raise babies. And maybe I'll get another red sexlink. Sassy has survived from the beginning and has laid an egg most days.
We are halfway in the woods with a field on either side and the National Forest bordering the back. So we have predators of all kinds. Well, i havent seen any alligators here in the Blue Ridge....but just about everything else. Sadly, we recently lost Big Dog so i dont know what impact that will have on the chicken population. So far none, but i believe May to June was predator heavy last year so we will see. They have the trees and brush and a big front and back porch for hiding under. And i have six roosters......yes i cant give them away and cant bring myself to do away with them. Right down to the little silkie pullet that is now crowing and chasing hens.