As regular readers will know, there are three feathered inhabitants of Cosy Cottage – Jemima, Florence and Dottie.
That is, until now.
When I first got the hens, I had been thinking of adopting between three and five but, out of caution, I ended up with three bantams. This was fine until Jemima and Florence both ended up being broody and Dottie was left out, looking as if she was Dottie-no-mates. Which she probably felt as well. At that point I started thinking, would it be a good idea to get another two?
Then Dottie became ill and I contemplated the horrid possibility of losing her. Then there would just be two and if anything happened to one of them, there would be a sole bantam wandering the garden, looking and feeling glum, no doubt.
There is a joke among chicken keepers called Chicken Maths where one and one hen will eventually end up… Well, whatever the chicken keeper chooses! Ultimately, the saying is that no matter how many hens you begin with, you will end up wanting more.
I didn’t think that I would feel like that as I was restricted for space, living in the suburbs. But the above issues this year did make me think…
And as summer turned into autumn, I realised that if I were to get any more, now was the time, rather than winter with the risk of bird flu, freezing nights and darker days.
So I returned to the birth place of Florence et al, and as luck would have it, the poultry farm had two colours remaining – black and black speckled. (Before you think I am vain or superficial, any colour would do but I liked the idea of telling the girls apart). Of course if I had one or more Jemima or Florence lookalikes, I would have bought leg rings so I could differentiate between them.
So Ava (nicknamed Little Ava) is 14 weeks old, all-black and the smaller of the two. Mabel is 12 weeks old, black speckled, has a much paler comb and is a larger lady. They are currently living in a CosyCoop, a cheaper version of the more famous plastic Eglu, and is actually where the older girls once lived for a week, when they first arrived a year ago.
Most of the time, the bantams have ignored the young girls as they free range around them. However, unfortunately both Jemima and Florence have been less than welcoming, trying to peck the young hens through the barrier.
To say I am dreading the integration process proper, where all hens will mix freely and reestablish their pecking order, is an understatement.
Wish us all luck!
Facts of the Day
1. Introducing a new bird can upset the pecking order. It’s suggested two or more hens should be introduced at a time to minimise bullying.
2. The flock of established hens will resent newcomers until the pecking order is re-established.
3. Allowing the two groups to meet through wire mesh during the first introductions is a good idea.
Information courtesy of Mini Encyclopedia Chicken Breeds and Care by Frances Bassom