Winter is here and although a fairly mild-one so far, we were forecasted to get three cold nights (very cold nights for most folks reading this). Minus 30c, minus 27c & minus 24c before it was expected to gradually warm-up to a "tropical" -2c, lol.
So the pressure was on to get a rooster to accompany our seven hens for those cold nights in the coop.
We got a nice young rooster from our neighbour a couple of days ahead of those cold nights. The idea was to get the ladies used to him a bit and it worked for us.
Sadly though for our neighbours who had a similar plan with their new rooster, it did not work out, as they arrived at their barn the morning after the -30c temperatures to find their young rooster frozen solid.
So the lessons to be learnt here are, although you may have a few animals housed in a barn, if the barn is old & drafty and the animals are not huddling together, you could end-up losing a few of your animals. So perhaps the best setup for overwintering chickens would be to build a small coop within the barn, to keep the heat in. Also winter may not be the right time to start a flock, especially if they haven't been raised together long enough to accept the new additions to the flock.
We also wanted to give all the chickens a bath with diatomaceous earth while it was still warm enough to do so.
Introducing Roderick, after Rod Steward because of his/their rockstar hairstyles, lol.
We got him sooner than we would have liked to. Although nearly the same size as the hens, he is only about half as old and as if that wasn't enough, he is/was fairly shy so the ladies tend to pick on him. I guess you can say that he's being "Hen pecked"? lol
After having been with us for two weeks, Roderick has grown noticeably bigger. He's not as shy as he used to be but he is ever a gentleman. When a hen approaches the feed bowl, he quietly and without protest, walks away. Also the sounds that he makes are very gentle :)
It's now been nearly two months since he arrived here. He has started to crow, starting at about 5:30-6am. That plus the fact that he is now chasing after the ladies was enough for him to live up to his name sake, lol.
So far, we've emptied four bags of leaves in the run to provide a layer of warmth plus something to keep them from getting too bored. I get bored easily and so do chickens in captivity and especially during our long winters where there is less opportunity spaces they to scratch, play, discover etc.
We add the bag of leaves to the run in the morning before the chickens get their breakfast, before opening the coop's pop-door that provides the chickens access to the run. But whereas they usually excitedly run down their little ramp straight to their breakfast, the first time we added the leaves they were super cautious and super slow coming down. You see, just like when they saw their first snow on the ground, they didn't know whether they could trust this strange carpet that was covering their usual mulch. Eventually the lure of the feed was too much and one hen braved walking on the leaves to get to the bowl. Slowly & cautiously, the rest followed.
We try to provide a mix of toys & activities to satisfy their curiosity plus provide exercise for them.
One such excitement is hanging kale for them to hop, snack & peck at. It also provides much amusement for us watching them go at it.
Since my last writing on our chickens, they have now provided us with dozens of eggs, yay!
The eggs range in colour from bluish-green, olive to three shades of brown. The egg yokes are huge and mustard yellow :)
Up until a couple of weeks ago, keeping and caring for chickens, although fun, was also work & costly.
It's such a joy now when going out to refresh their waterer or feed them throughout the day, and upon checking their nesting boxes, to find an egg or two...or five!