Archive for June 8th, 2011

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Pullets

June 8, 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I moved the pullets* from the cow trough (in the garage) to the chicken coop. The pullets are growing rapidly but they’re not large or old enough to defend themselves against the hens. Without a shielding mother, hens will peck at a younger flock. For now, segregation is necessary. Therefore, each morning we play musical chairs. Both flocks sing (not all that well) while I rotate them. Until sundown, when rotation takes place in reverse, the hens free range with access to the coop for egg lying while the pullets play in the running pen. Twice daily, the music stops and everybody’s happy in their prospective stations.

Soon the pullets will know the coop and running pen as home base. There they will find a small supply of organic feed, water, and little nesting boxes to lay eggs next spring. As the pullets familiarize themselves with the new surroundings, routine patterns will fall into place. When the hens are nearby, free ranging, the pullets can observe scavenger skills and dust-bowl baths. Although these behaviors come naturally, like humans, even pullets can learn from peers.

Soon, when I open the hatch at twilight, the pullets will learn to go into the coop. Right now, I have to chase them. I’m glad there’s no hidden camera. Scurrying after seven pullets, dodging poop, bumping my head on the perching bar, and nearly landing on my face as I reach out to grasp one is a shoe-in for America’s Funniest Home Videos.

This flock is different from the breeds I’ve had before. The Buttercups are nervous around humans and are the first to take flight if I get near them. They’re small, active and quick, white egg layers that don’t do well in confinement.

The Australorp is from Australia. Known for their high brown-egg production and sweet temperament, they’re also good meat birds. I have yet to hear a peep out of these quite, black beauties which make them suitable for town folk concerned about annoying their neighbors.

The Silkie bantams are from Japan. They’re so cute, calm and friendly you want to cuddle them. They’re feathers are fur-like, slick and fluffy. Silkies stay small and produce mini, ornamental eggs. With their motherly instincts, they make great brooders** and loving mothers. Children adore them.

*Pullet:  A female chicken less than one year old.

**Brooders or broody:  The desire of a hen to sit and hatch eggs.

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