Wednesday, July 31, 2013

We Have New Additions to the Farm!

We have a new rooster!  We named him Beetle Juice! We had too many drakes and found a man that took two of our boys, that left us with three drakes.  He gave me a Dominique rooster.  I just love this boy, he's very sweet (for now) and he's just learning to crow so he is quite entertaining.  It's been a few days here with him trying to make friends with all the other animals.  The pecking order with chickens can feel so cruel, and as a "mommy" you just want everyone to get along.  He is trying very hard to find his place and last night he went and got on the roost all on his own.  It was a very proud moment for me to see him make the effort to take his place on the roost.

If you have never added a bird to the flock, it can be very stressful for everyone, especially the new bird and the human that wants everyone to get along.  There are a few tips to adding a bird to the flock that will ease a lot of the stress.

First, keep your new bird in a separate pen for a few days and up to a week.  This allows everyone to see each other, but keeps the new bird in a safe situation.  When you are ready to allow the new bird in with the established birds, move the new bird to the roost at night when everyone is sleeping.  This allows the bird to sleep on the roost and in the morning the chickens aren't as suspicious of the new bird as they would of been during the day.

If chickens are in a coop and run all day and night, there can be a lot of stress and pecking to establish order. Tight spaces can cause a lot of scuffle and pecking on the new bird to let the bird know who is in charge.  Be sure to watch how the chickens treat the new bird.  Chickens can draw blood and could cause injury to the new bird.  If you are introducing a young rooster to the flock and have an older rooster, there could be a lot of fighting and even death to the new bird.  Sometimes you might have to take the dominant chicken out of the pen for a few days and let them re-establish their place in the pecking order.  This is only necessary if the dominant chicken is being aggressive and acting like a bully.

In our case, we free range our birds.  When a new chicken is coming into a free range situation there is a lot more space and room for the birds to interact.  The new bird can keep it's distance and still learn about it's new home.   Beetle Juice is doing well settling into his new life here with all of our animals.  He gets out of the way of the goats when they are running around and tries to make friends with the chickens, but gets away quickly if they try to peck him.  He's had a few chest bumping squabbles with a couple of hens, but I'm glad to see he's standing up for himself.  The ducks are even letting him know he's way down on the pecking order even to them.  I can't help but laugh when a duck drops that head and stretches out their neck and chases after him.  He looks at them like they are crazy.  I don't think he'd ever seen a duck or a goat close up before. 

I am very happy to add this little guy to our flock and am very excited to watch him mature and grow into a beautiful rooster.  I have always loved the Dominique breed and have hoped to have one.  I always buy my chickens from the hatchery as a mixed flock of hens.  I buy the rainbow layers from McMurray Hatchery.  So they pick the breeds that I get and I'm okay with that I love the mystery and surprises as they grow.  I haven't gotten a Dominique yet, but now I have a beautiful boy.  Of course, now I need to get a few hens of the same breed so that we can continue the lineage.  I plan to order a few as soon as I get my new batch of chicks out of the nursery. 
All the new chicks at two days old

We ordered twenty five chicks and got them last week.  The rainbow layer pack from McMurray Hatchery sends us a variety of breeds that lay white, brown and if you get Arcauna or Americana chicks, blue eggs.  We love the colored eggs they are always a conversation starter when we share our eggs.  They are all a little over a week old today and are growing well and getting their little tail feathers jutting out.  I can't wait to see what they will all look like when they get fully feathered.  It's exciting to watch them grow and change. 
The Guineas at two days old

We also got fifteen guineas.  I have always wanted guineas but they can be a bit expensive.  There was a "sale" so I ordered them and am so excited to have them as a new addition to our hobby farm.  Guineas are wonderful protectors to the farm and great little alarm systems.  The will kill small mice and rats, snakes and eat loads of nasty insects like ticks.  They generally like to roost in trees at night but that leaves them exposed to predators.  I am going to try very hard to train them to go into the house at night like the chickens and ducks.  I have read up on teaching them and will work hard at making sure they want to come "home" at night.
These Guineas are adorable and look so sweet!
We are also adding ten Khaki Campbell ducks to our duck flock.  Like I mentioned earlier, we had too many drakes for our flock.  We had five drakes, we found a home for two drakes, and now have three drakes.  We have eight females and the three drakes.  When the little ones are added to the flock we will have eighteen females.  That should balance things out with our three drakes.  I also want to get more Indian runners, but they weren't available to order when I ordered my chicks.  Khaki Campbell ducks lay a lot of eggs, they are the most prolific egg layers of all the ducks, and are a pretty chocolate brown color.  They will be a wonderful addition to the duck flock. 

The Khaki Campbell ducklings at two days old
I just love duckling faces, they are the cutest things, but they are far from loving or cuddly.  They really don't enjoy being held or bothered by humans.  It takes a long time for my ducks to get comfortable around me, and they never turn into little lap ducks.  I have read about a lot of peoples ducks following them around and being great pets.  I don't really push myself on the ducks to be "pets", I let them be ducks and let them take their time to feel safe around people but never so safe that the lose their natural defensive's. 
Look at that face!
I'm really excited to have all the new babies here and our new rooster.  It's so much fun to add new birds to the farm.  Now that I have them all, they are keeping me very busy.  It's worth all the work to see them grow up to beautiful, happy free ranging birds!