I've written about other things here at Paradise in Disguise Hobby Farm, but I thought it was time for a "fall flock update". Although, I'll have to postpone images until another time, as they're still on the camera.
The first update is on the new roosters, a Swedish Flower Hen & Barnevelder. They're still out in the "garden coop", but that's not winter-worthy. I hope to integrate the two boys once I process some of the older roosters, so there's less competition. The "bachelor pad" is full right now, but the selection process will be tricky, as they're all nice, handsome & friendly. Thankfully, I have other roosters to introduce to them as well, so it'll be better than just introducing 2 new roosters.
Space is an issue here on only 3/4 of an acre, though I do have a nice large newly built "coop" that's right now being used as a "brooder barn" for some hatchery pullets chicks that a friend wanted me to raise out for their family. I have to keep them separate, so I can accurately keep track of their feed cost. Some of them are seemingly growing "too fast", so I hope the hatchery didn't substitute some broiler birds; or it may just be that's the difference when only fed grain for their 1st four weeks of life! Most of my chicks get out & about before that, so the extra activity & foraging slows down their growth a little. I wish I'd had a few of mine to grow side by side to compare with them. Oh, well!
What's great, though, is by the time they're ready to go to their new home in the spring, I'll hopefully be able to use that space for either chicks and/or another breeding group.
I can see that doing multiple breeding projects can be a little much when space is limited. Not to mention incubator space becomes "prime real estate", unless you have one of those "cabinet incubators". Those are "dangerous", though, because of what happens if all the eggs hatch! But I'm still considering building one out of an extra large cooler.
I'm letting the Swedes go through a more "natural" winter, so right now they're molting or stopped laying. From 4 adult hens (1 1/2 to 2 years old), I'm getting one egg every 2 to 3 days - I think from the one younger hen. Last year, though, I had them in a "mixed breed" coop with a light & timer so they'd get 16 hrs of "light" during the winter. I'm not sure how they did through last winter, but no longer want to "force" them. They still have a light & timer, but I've been reducing the time, so it's only on for a little longer than the natural daylight. Which is getting even shorter this weekend!
Some of this year's Swedish Flower Hen pullets are starting to get slightly pinker combs & I saw one squat for the rooster. It doesn't matter much right now, anyways, since I'd prefer them laying during hatching season.
Thankfully, some of the 2015 Catskill Homesteader pullets are now laying, and more will continue to mature, given the wide range of hatch dates. Speaking of which, the Bielefelder hen finished molting and returned to laying, just around the same time, one of the Bielefelder pullets also started laying for the first time! Making progress, slow but sure!
Hoping the cold weather doesn't come too quickly, and thankfully it looks like next week is still going to be pretty "nice" temp-wise for the 1st week of November! Time to process roosters & finish putting the garden to bed, planting garlic, etc.