[FONT=comic sans ms,sand]Our Backyard Flock[/FONT](last update Saturday 22th of August 2009[FONT=comic sans ms,sand]Welcome to our little chicken paradise![/FONT]
ACTUAL CHICKEN COUNT
- TOTAL: 25
- 4 two year old Bovan Brown hens
- 1 twenty week old RIR cockerel
- 8 twenty week old pullets: 3 RIR, 1 Catalan, 1 EE, 1 BO, 1 Light Sussex, 1 Black Jersey Giant
- 12 five week old Shaver Redbro meat cockerels
It was built in June 2008 to welcome the original members of our flock, our 9 Bovan Brown ladies, which were a little over 1 year old when we got them. The four main beams are anchored in a big cement bloc shaped like a square donut. My son says that in case of a tornado, we can take cover in the chicken coop! Since we live in the province of Quebec, Canada, it is well insulated and we have a little heater inside for the very cold days. There are windows all around at the top of the back and side walls. These windows and the front door have waterproof flaps that we roll up to let the sun and the fresh air in. We leave the door open during the day, so there is no need for a separate trap door. In winter, we add an insulated extension in front of the door to avoid our ladies to be directly exposed to the freezing wind (you can see it on the second picture, behind the coop). There is no day predators in our neighborhood and our backyard is enclosed all around by fences. At night, our birds have to be protected against the racoons, the only serious threat we have to guard against.
Since we added new members to our flock this spring, we now also have a brooder cage, a chicken tractor (that we have now parked behind the main coop), a rooster pen under our house and a small mobile coop & run, that can house a couple hens, but it isn't used in this moment (one of our neighbors is interested to buy it to keep two hens and maybe a rooster!). In August 2009, with the arrival of 12 meat chicken, we have added a medium-size coop with its temporary pen.
So actually, since we have only 4 out of 9 of our initial group of ladies left, we have 4 two year old hens sleeping in the main coop, 8 twenty week old pullets sleeping in the tractor behind the coop, 1 twenty week old cockerel sleeping in the pen under the house and 12 five week old meat cockerels sleeping in the medium-size coop. We let the crowing cockerel out only at nine in the morning, to avoid disturbing our neighbors.
But without further ado, let us present you our dear boy and girls. We will begin with our 4 Bovan Brown ladies.
CHICKEN ACTUALLY SHARING OUR TERRESTRIAL EXISTENCE
is the friendliest of the flock. She follows us everywhere, hoping to see her masters dig up the earth or throw her something to eat. She is recognizable by her slightly crooked beak, which is where her name comes from ("beak" in French is "bec"). With the death of Pamela and Zina, she is now at the top of the pecking order. Long live the Queen!Bequette
Georgette is now second in the pecking order. She is known for her incredible appetite. She eats anything we throw at her. Sadly, she is losing weight and getting weaker lately. We are afraid that she will finish soon like Beaker, Nikolia and Pamela.
has always been the most independant one, although she seems to get friendlier lately. She was a regular egg layer, but now she is not laying anymore and is passing only egg yolk. She is sadly showing all the signs of the condition that condemned Beaker, Nikolia and Pamela. We expect to have to put her down soon.Amelie
(alias Sophie) is the last in the pecking order, since Suzie passed away. She is the genius amoung the ladies, and we call her the engineer. She is incredibly curious, as she will always be around whenever we are reparing or building something, even though it has nothing to do with food. She has to inspect every new assembly, like if she is trying to understand its purpose. As a problem solver, she is the master at finding a way to get in those places she wants to get. It is not always obvious to make a garden space "Savkaproof". Last year, she defeated all our defenses erected to protect our zucchinis, so we stayed zucchiniless. Despite being very curious, Savka is still a pretty independant hen, minding her own business. Before the death of Suzie, the two formed a funny duo: we called them "Laurel and Hardy", Savka being Hardy and Suzie being Laurel. Suzie was following Savka everywhere to see what she was up to, and Savka pecked Suzie on the head out of impatience every now and then.Savka
Now that you have met our 4 ladies, let us continue with our youngsters. These were hatched on April 2th 2009. They are pure bred chicken, not commercial hybrids like our ladies.
is simply a majestic bird. He is a Rhode Island Red. Almost from the moment he popped out of his egg, he was ready to conquer the world. Each time we would open the chicks' cage, he would jump and stand triumphally on the door. If you would put your hand in the cage near the weaker chicks, he would jump in front of them and peck your hand to protect them. Now, at twenty weeks old, he stands proudly among our flock, taller than all the rest, including the adult ladies. He is nobly dominant and walks with a dignified stride. He is not aggressive at all, taking seriously his role as the protector of the flock against any external threat. He is now - and it will probably stay that way - the only rooster among our layers.Alexander the Great
is a Light Sussex pullet and a very calm and quiet bird.Hera
[FONT=comic sans ms,sand]Below, the high school sweethearts, Hera and Zeus (R.I.P.).
[FONT=comic sans ms,sand] is one of our three Rhode Island Red pullets. She seems to like having her picture taken, as she does many efforts to take a nice feminine pose. Her comb is more developed than her two sisters'.Emma[/FONT]
Penelope is our second Rhode Island Red pullet. She is calm and, like her sisters, appreciates the company of Alexander.
is the third of our three Rhode Island Red pullets. Of the three, she has the least developed comb for now.Scarlett
is our Buff Orpington pullet. Of course, she has a calm and gentle nature, but she still has caracter and doesn't allow the other girls to push her around.Petunia
is our Black Jersey Giant. She is rather independant and prefers to mind her own business.Blackie
, once a mystery to us, has now been identified - she is a Catalan pullet! We think she may be the last in the pecking order (to be confirmed).Victoria
is another mystery, although we are pretty sure now that she is an Easter Egger. She seems to be agressively rejected by the other pullets.Roxie
CHICKEN WHO HAVE LEFT US FOR A NEW HOME
(pronounced Pa-chay, and meaning "duckling") was the ugly duckling that had become, against all odds and the hopes of my wife, a nice little cockerel. My dear wife had difficulty accepting that what she thought was a funny looking little pullet had turned out to be a proud cockerel. Contrarily to his big brother Che, Pache was a fearless little fellow. He was also a smart little guy, and always understood quickly what we expected of him.Pache
Below, Che (R.I.P.) and Pache eating side by side.
CHICKEN WHO HAVE NOW SHED THEIR CORPOREAL ENVELOPE
was put down in early June because of her vicious attacks on our young ones. She was from the first day at the bottom of the pecking order. We couldn't help feeling sorry for her, since she was the target of everybody else's pecking. She was a fighter though, never giving up, and also the most regular egg layer. Because her left eye's pupil always stayed constricted and because of her bad temper, she earned the nickname "evil eye". The problem is that she never accepted the new young members of the flock and was searching for any occasion to peck very aggressively on them, generally plucking a few feathers and drawing blood in the process. She wouldn't dare to do it in front of us, but would seize any occasion when we turned our back.Suzie
[FONT=comic sans ms,sand], sadly, was culled on the 20th of July 2009, along with Che and Zeus. Five roosters in a suburban neighborhood is just too much. Anyway, considering that we only had 13 hens, we knew that 2 roosters was the most we could keep. We were very unlucky with our Cuckoo Marans this spring, since all five turned out roosters. We will try again next spring to get at least one Cuckoo Marans hen.Frankie
(alias Woody) was culled at the same time as Frankie and Zeus. He was a funny fellow. We gave him the proud fighter name "Che", in honor of Che Guevara. But he revealed himself more of a wuss that a fighter. He was the nervous type, and his first reaction to any noise was to run away. When an animal like a cat or a groundhog came along, the other roosters were running to chase it, but Che stood behind, as if he was saying "Go guys go! I will stay behind here just in case... to coordinate the attack... or something."Che
left us on the same day as Frankie and Che. He was a Light Sussex. He was rather chatty, almost always chirping to himself. Sadly, Zeus and Hera were real lovebirds. We rarely could see one without the other a few steps away. Now we just hope that Hera will be able to get over his passing.Zeus
Pamela, second in the pecking order after the deaths of Beaker and Nikolia, has sadly passed away on Friday, the 24th of July 2009. She had lost a lot of feathers since the Winter, mainly because Georgette and her had developed the bad habit of plucking each others' feathers. She was known for being the hen obsessed with good table manners, since she was constantly cleaning everyone's beak during the meals. We found her dead in one of the nesting boxes in the afternoon. Our post mortem examination confirmed the suspected cause of death: yolk peritonitis, caused by egg inlaying. Sadly, it is a frequent condition in commercial hybrid "superlayer" hens aged over 2 years old, for which there is no cure. The fact of laying one egg per day without any interruption is just to hard on their reproductive system. We lost Beaker in January and Nikolia in May from the same cause.
, third in the pecking order, passed away on Tuesday the 4th of August 2009. She was a very gentle and friendly hen. Her comb was very distinctive. She died in a tragic accident: a heavy section of wooden fence fell on her and broke her neck. Luckily, her death was swift. Believe or not, we were considering to cull her because she was showing all the signs of the condition that doomed Beaker, Nikolia and Pamela. But we were postponing the decision because she was very dear to us. It seems that fate took care of taking the decision for us. She is now buried in the garden.Zina
OUR BACKYARD FLOCK TIMELINE
May 2008: Pierre begins the construction of the main chicken coop.
22nd of June 2008: We pick up and bring home our 9 one year old Bovan Brown hens.
One cold morning of January 2009: Radmila finds Beaker, her favorite hen, dead in the coop. Cause of death: yolk peritonitis.
4th of April 2009: Pierre builds a 2'x3' brooder cage with a heating lamp.
5th of April 2009: We pick up 16 three day old chicks of different pure breeds.
18th of April 2009: Pierre begins the construction of the chicken tractor for the young chicks.
5th of May 2009: We decide to put down Nikolia, who presents all the symptoms of yolk peritonitis.
9th of May 2009: We put our 16 five week old chicks outside in the chicken tractor.
24th of May 2009: Pierre builds a mini coop with a mini chicken run.
25th of May 2009: We pick up 4 new seven-week-old chicks - 2 Welsummer & 2 Light Sussex. Their home is the mini coop.
End of May 2009: An unnamed BO chick and Gonzo, a Cuckoo Marans little cockerel, both handicaped, have to be culled.
Beginning of June 2009: We take the difficult decision of putting down Suzie, who wouldn't stop her vicious attacks on the young chicken.
End of June 2009: We succeed to give one cockerel (Cuckoo Marans) and have to cull 4 other (2 RIR & 2 Cuckoo Marans).
20th of July 2009: We cull 3 cockerels - Frankie, Che and Zeus.
24th of July 2009: Pamela is found dead in one of the nesting boxes. Cause of death: yolk peritonitis.
4th of August 2009: Fate in the guise of a heavy wooden fence takes Zina away from us. On a happier note, we get 12 meat cockerels.
5th of August 2009: Pierre builds a new medium-size coop to house our 12 three week old meat cockerels (Shaver Redbro).
20th of August 2009: Victoria is positively identified - she is a Catalan pullet! Our pullets are exactly 20 weeks old.
21st of August 2009: Pache is left in the care of the owners of our feed store, who have promised to find him a new home.
22nd of August 2009: Integration night! We put away the chicken tractor and bring the pullets to sleep with the hens in the main coop.
MERCI ET AU REVOIR!
Well we hope that you have enjoyed our presentation. Our greatest wish is that the general public becomes aware that these birds are intelligent creatures, with a complex social life and distinctive personalities, so that more and more people raise their voices against the inhumane treatment of the poor battery hens. We think a website like BackyardChickens.com goes a long way in that direction. We will try to keep this page always up-to-date, as some birds will inevitably have to go and some other will eventually join our flock (we were thinking of getting pullets of the following breeds to complete our troup of layers: Cuckoo Maran, Silver-Laced Wyandotte, Gold-Laced Wyandotte, Barnevelder, Welsummer, Speckled Sussex, Ameraucana and Black Australorp).