Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Pullet Palais (Penitentiary)

As requested by Sharon, The Pitman's Pullet Penitentiary Post.

Beware they are not glamorous, stylish images!
The girls are doing well with their incarceration and hard labour all in the production of these.

The chookyard is a large prison type arrangement.

There are large gates on either end.
The chookyard is within the electrified garden fence.
There's just enough width between the two for the big dog to have made a nice racetrack around the hens!
It's very funny to see him running around and around with the little ones chasing him, oblivious to what it is he is obsessed with!

I use this old gate to place on top of the burning rubbish bin
to stop the crows from pulling all the contents out.
The ash from the burning bin is really useful for the hens to roll about in, it keeps the lice at bay.
We also put our firebox ash in their little hollowed out dust baths.

Looking to the other end of the yard.
There's a stay wire across the middle that I will need to hang shade cloth from for the summer heat.
 It took them only about three weeks to have the yard completely eaten out and barren,
I tried to keep the grass growing, with the sprinklers, but with the cooler weather and the chooks scratching, it was a bit of an impossible task.

 Instead they have a bale of lucerne hay to peck at to get green pick.
It's undercover in their little coop.

Inside the coop it's pretty ugly. The corrugated iron is from the old shed.
I've used the fold up quad/car ramps as one of them was run over in the driveway and can't be used anymore.
 See the weird bend in it?? The chooks like it to get up to their perches.

The perches are from old oregon windmill rods.

They go inside to access their nesting boxes. 
The doggies love coming in here as there's always a whiff of mice.
They dug out underneath this bale and had a few mice.
We aren't doing too badly in the mice department.

Unless I dole out the seed each morning and afternoon I have to use this feeder,
the chooks just push it out with their beaks and have it spread everywhere.
I'm going to get the boys to devise an alternative in the holidays. 
I've seen big bits of upright white pipe with a U shape on the end that the hens can't really scratch it all out of.

There's a little man gate in the u part of the boomerang shaped yard. Some of the young hens run backwards and forwards at night time trying to get in this way- hence the star post to prop the door open.

Inside the laying box we've put plastic containers, then I put a shallow layer of diatomaceous earth/clay - otherwise known as kitty litter!!!! 
I have used it for many many years. You have to look for the clay one, in Australia it's the Chandlers brand. If the chook poops in the nest or breaks the egg, the earth 'soaks' it up.
 It's always really clean. They scratch it out and I usually replace it at least a couple of times a year.

This young hen we were given by a friend has been egg bound a couple of times. We've had to squeeze the egg out for her. The first time I though I was going to break the egg.
Luckily, she's had no further problems for a few days.

To get to the eggs you just lift the lid. We need to make a cover over this though as even though the boys tested it with a hose, I've found that with the light rain there has been leakage in.

We extended the garden pipes into the yard and set up a trough. I need to make the big hose shorter as it's a waste of a good long hose in here. the other hoses on the timer are for the wobbler hoses.
I have a timer that will turn them on and off every 30 mins or whatever I set it at. I'm seriously worried about the chooks not having enough shade in summer.

The dogs like to help themselves to the chook's water haha!
 To get some shade on the coop in summer we've also planted some bamboo.
Fingers crossed it'll grow.

They do love being free from their enclosure, especially at the moment to get all the clover coming up.

They also love pecking at the saltbush hedge. 
I've heard that it will make sheep very tasty.

Miss Jaller being the flock guard dog!
I wonder about chickens?? hahaha!

Friday, 6 June 2014

My lovely Chooks have a new home.

I love my chooks and love sharing their amazing abilities.
They lay eggs.
I just find this completely amazing.
A person I know whose family is in the egg industry once said to me, 'What other food can you get to feed a whole family so well, so cheaply?"
How true. 
A dozen eggs can feed a family quite well for around 6 dollars.
Well having your own chooks makes it even cheaper.
I now have 24 hens. 12 old, and 12 young.
They have a special new chook yard that I have been waiting for since my birthday in February.
It was worth the wait! The boys have done a top job of it.

Chookyard building- it is huge! with 2 big gates to drive through to get around the yard.

They can eat free range as well as have feed on hand in a feeder, plus they get all the kitchen scraps.
Mine have laying mash (I like the seedy stuff mixed with molasses)  The pellets made one lot of my chooks lose all their feathers, I think it makes them too hot. We go through a bag of feed each week, plus they are free ranging these last couple of weeks. I let them free range each afternoon since their move into their new yard when I get home, they're waiting at the gate for me and I let them out for a couple of hours.

I always have a mix of old and young chooks. I never have the heart to chop the heads off my old ones. They have worked hard producing eggs and I repay them with a long life.
The old red girls are 3 or 4 years old, and the black ones are 2 years old.
They have just finished moulting and we have gone from 2 eggs a day from 11 hens to 6 eggs a day.
I'm pretty happy with that, I thought they might have been past it.

This big guy has to be locked or chained up before any chooks are let loose!
He tries to work them to death!

The little dogs don't seem to be worried at all about the chooks. 
They're more interested in searching for scraps in the chookyard!

The chooks give them a little peck if they get in their space!

The young red ones are just starting to lay. I bought them back in March as 12 week olds.
I normally buy day olds at the beginning of October or November.
Last year we didn't get any babies though as all the chooks were in the big aviary (where I would normally put the chicks) waiting for a new yard to be built, as the new shed built for the solar panels meant my old chook yard and veggie patch had to be demolished! 

I find the tiniest pullet eggs in the nesting boxes.

I 'm getting 4 a day out of the 12 of them.
Of course this all depends on my ability to get them collected before lunch as there seems to be a family of egg thieving crows in the vicinity. I've lost 4 plastic eggs as well that they've taken.
I hope they gave them a royal gut ache!
Apart from sitting there with a  410 waiting for them to rob the nest, I'm not exactly sure what to do.
I would normally hang a big fake bird, but I think that might worry the hens.

Suggestions most welcome.

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