Keeping an eye on things!

Friday, September 19, 2014

First Post in a While. **Save your birds from Eagles** and **Sitting Problems**

   Hello fellow chicken lovers!! Its been over a year since the last post, but the exciting move and all the busy lives have gotten in the way. I intend to be much more thorough about posts this time! I will be able to share more with you including the daily chicken stories along with a few DIY projects for your chickens and some helpful pointers you never would have thought of. First off, I will go ahead and catch you up on our current flock. We have been through quite a few chickens the past few years due to cold, critters, and mostly eagles. Yes, eagles. We never would have thought it either but it is actually quite common for your chickens no matter how big (although they tend to go for the smaller ones) to get picked up by eagles and hawks. 
If there are "pieces" or you see remnants of your bird left, chances are it wasn't a hawk or eagle. It was probably something more carnivorous like a raccoon, skunk, possum, dog, coyote, etc. The most obvious tell-tale sign that a bird of prey is picking off your flock, is you will see just a ring of feathers. Not a big pile, but just a small ring. If you can imagine... those eagles swoop down and pick the chicken up so fast that it just goes poof! And there is a little ring or feathers left behind... its kind of sad.
An easy way to prevent this is to make sure your birds have plenty of things to hide under like little lean-to shelters or even just a covered chicken run. You will notice that they aren't disappearing quite so often. :)

So  anyway, back to the flock. Yes we have seen our fair share of chicken deaths, but we have also made up for it with a couple broody hens. As of now we have hatched a total of 10 chicks our self without the help of an incubator or anything. We simply allowed nature to take its course. I have had a lot of people asking me how they can get their chickens to sit and how to stop the broody ones from sitting all the time. Well I can answer both quite easily.
**How Do I Get My Chickens To Sit??**
There are some breeds of chickens that are more broody (you'll hear me say that a lot; for those of you that don't know it just means they tend to sit on eggs) than other breeds. For instance, Buff Orpington hens are some of the more common sitters and you will be pleased with their ability to raise chicks. Other breeds, especially the more flighty ones, will refuse to sit unless they have no other choice. Okay so first of all, your hen will know if her eggs are fertilized for the most part. Even if they are eggs laid by other chickens she will know and she will kick the eggs out that aren't. In order to get her to sit what you will want to do is watch to make sure your Rooster is doing his job in getting those eggs fertilized if you know what I mean or if you are buying the eggs that way... that works too. But once you know they are fertile, go ahead and select the hen that you think would be best, if she doesn't already sit, and place her in the egg house. You are going to have to shut her in there for a few days until she decides she wants to sit and stay there. Make sure also that she has food and water that she can reach while still laying on her eggs. If she still doesn't take to them and simply refuses to sit, use a different hen or an incubator. The way I always do it, is if my chicken starts sitting, ill slip the other fertile eggs under her and she will hatch them all.
**How Do I Stop My Chicken From Sitting??**
Honestly, I don't like to stop mine from sitting just because I like to hatch my own chicks. But, whether you do not want more babies, or you just don't want her sitting, it's pretty easy to get her to stop. There are 2 ways to stop a hen from sitting. First and easiest is to just keep taking her out of the house and with the rest of the flock with some feed. You'll have to repeat it for a few days, but soon enough she won't want to sit anymore. Also make sure you keep the eggs collected so she doesn't have anything to sit on! The second is to give her what she wants! If you have a hen that refuses to quit sitting sometimes the best thing to do is just let her. Now, if you don't have a rooster and the eggs she is sitting on are most definitely not fertile, take them out. You don't want rotten eggs breaking in your house! EW! But the best thing to do is go ahead and purchase a few more chicks. (One hen can raise up to 20 chicks by herself!!) keep the chicks with a heat lamp for the first few days and then bring them out at night (<-- that's important) and slip them under your sitting hen. She will accept those babies just like they are her own and you dont have to worry about them. 

Our Heeby-Jeeby chicken flock is up to about 40 birds now and they are going strong. I will go into detail about all the birds in the posts to come. But in the meantime, I hope this was helpful and feel free to comment or email me any questions you want answered in this blog! 

The Heeby-Jeeby Chicken Girl