Martin acquires four new little birds. Everyone is intrigued...
With Martin Gurdon
Finally, our flock has expanded, with the arrival of a quartet of new birds. It’s slightly ironic that after years of going for heavy breeds, and hoping that one day we’d have a single flock of big hens, our new arrivals are bantams, and join three existing Polish Crested bantams, which means our flock of little chickens is know bigger than the ‘large’ flock, which currently is down to a trio.
Our latest birds are a pigeon-sized Serena, a mystery cross breed that contains some Serena in its DNA, an entirely non-specific hen and pretty, chocolate brown Wyandotte. The last two are bigger bantams, and we’re hoping to integrate them into our large flock. The two smaller birds will end up with Wonky, the widowed Polish Crested cockerel, whose been on his own since the summer when his partner Hestletina expired.
The bantam quartet came from a well established, local amateur breeder. The hygiene was good, the housing excellent, the vendor had clearly kept birds for years, and the animals themselves were relaxed and busy.
Our original plan had been to buy a pair of bantams for Wonky, but we liked the look of the other birds, and decided this would be a way of maintaining our main flock. The quartet were all about a year old.
So far they have settled in well. We resurrected the chicken house usually reserved for broody hens, and pressed our rather tired ‘spare’ wire run into service as stamping about space, placing this ensemble near to Wonky, who perked up hugely at the site of fresh avian totty.
All the other hens were similarly intrigued, and there was soon a deputation of big chickens, including Priscilla the Brahma, who has finally shrugged off broodiness. Much eyeballing and looming ensued, particularly from chief chicken Slasher, whose look of menace was somewhat undermined by a serious moult, which has left her looking spiny, and semi plucked in places.
The plan is to keep our new birds separate from the existing hens for about a month, then start introducing them to their permanent flocks at bed times, removing them in the morning to lessen any bullying until we reckon everyone’s ready.
It’s too early to get a sense of the new animals’ characters, but two names have suggested themselves. I rather favour ‘Tyson’ for the smallest hen, although my wife is less enamoured with the idea. Her suggestion that we call the brown Wyandotte ‘Dot’ has met with universal approval. As for the other two, it’s only a matter of time before behavioural quirks will make who they are entirely obvious.
So far they have settled in well. The other birds were intrigued...
ABOVE: Martin’s new chickens