New Chooks!

Our old girls are getting on now.  Bunty from the original flock is 5 years old, which is like 120 in chicken years!  The others range between 3 – 4.  Well past prime laying age of 18 months.

Also according to my egg calendar, May is the leanest month for egg laying.  Last year they only laid 17 eggs out of 8 hens, and so far this year we have collected 16 and are down to 7 hens.  Only one of the large Isa brown hens is laying at the moment.  The bantams have been barren for about 3 weeks, and all are finished moulting and have most of their feathers back.

So, over the weekend, Kim and I decided to purchase three new hens to make up for the drop in egg production.  Once again, I have stuck with the good old reliable Isa brown hen, which are easy to come by.

To that end, Ben and I just travelled up to Gisborne South to the Macedon Park Emu Farm (I kid you not), and bought our new 18 week old chooks.  We met Penny the owner of the farm, who was very friendly, and said that after dark was the best time to introduce hens into the flock, and it was very easy for her to catch them in the coop.  They should start laying in about four weeks time.

We boxed them up and travelled home, dodging a few kangaroos in the process.

When we arrived, Kim was standing by with the torches.  We opened up the box.  They were so cute, and it really took us back to the very first time we got chooks.  We placed them into the hen house, which resides within Cluckingham Palace, without too much fuss.  The other chooks just clucked a bit and went back to sleep.

It was a very dark, so we didn’t take any pictures.  Tomorrow, I promise.

I dare say that the fun will begin in the morning when I go to feed them before heading off to work.  Bunty has always been top hen, so she will assert her position.  The pecking order should be re-established within a day or two, and Kim said that she was going to keep and eye on them during the day.

I won’t get a good look at them until Saturday morning, as it is dark when I leave for work, and when I lock them up at night.  Not to worry.  I am sure everything will be fine.

Afterall, we are seasoned chicken ranchers now!


  1. says

    I’ve never been a huge fan of the Isa although we had them when we were kids. I admire their high egg production but I guess I prefer a bird that lays a little less regularly but over a longer period of time. However, we chose our breeds due to cold hardiness (it’s reported to be pretty cold up here at night and we’ve already seen negative figures one night) but we also keep them for meat so we need a dual purpose breed. We have Silver grey Dorkings, Muscovy ducks, pekin Bantams (our top pecking order girls and the smallest) and some silkies for living incubators (one is sitting as we speak). The Dorkings aren’t the friendliest of birds but the pekin, Honey, is beloved of Allegra and up for cuddles and I often grab a silkie for a snuggle.
    I look forward to hearing how your new girls settle in Gav. Watching them establishing the pecking order can be fun as long as they don’t get too out of hand. :)

  2. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin
    I gave a mixed flock- a couple of Cochins (large, black, feathered feet) that lay a pink shelled egg about every 3 days. They are classsed as a dual purpose breed (eggs and eating). They are very placid, a bit lazy and go broody a bit and d not mind the odd cuddle
    I have a couple of ISAs and they are great for a daily egg for their first 12-18 months then an egg around every second day to about 2-2.5 years and then if they are still alive an egg every so often. My ISAs have always been clever chooks but not fond of a cuddle
    Then I have a couple of Welsummers that lay a ran coloured egg every second day. Not at all fond of a cuddle and don t seem to go broody
    Then there are the cross breeds of a Cochin rooster and all the aforementioned hens. The crossbreeds do quite well in the egg laying scheme of things and some like a cuddle and some don’t
    Some of the crosses are full size and some are bantams (bantam means small, it’s not a specific breed of chicken)
    There is a couple of schools of thought about keeping ISAs-one if which says if we keep buying them we are contributing to the continuing breeding of a short lived, stressed out from egg laying chook that is routinely debeaked. And here was I thinking I was saving t hem from being battery hens ( the other school of thought).
    The last couple of ISAs I got were 14months olld ex farm and weren’t quite as sad as some I have seen but certainly look better now with glossy feathers
    I haven’t had any experience with Silkies but have read they don’t lay much at all but make good broodies and good mums
    Claire in Kalorama

    • says

      If i were to get Isa’s then i would be saving them from a life in a cage. Our local egg farm has truck loads arriving at laying age and often have too many which they sell off for about $17 each. We used some of these at a workshop for keeping chickens (Shoestring Gardening) and they were very open to being passed around from person to person. Ive been back several times and they just let me pick them up. I want the silkies for fun. I love their crazy rock star feathers. Reward dont always have to be eggs. Definately up for a cuddle.

    • says

      You’re right regarding Silkie lay rates. Their eggs are so sweet and little, like the pekin bantam eggs and I use more eggs in recipes to compensate. If the recipe calls for 1 egg I use 2, for 2 eggs I use 3 and then for 3 eggs, 4-5. Basically I try to use 1.5 silkie eggs. They do make fantastic mothers though as you say which is why we got them. I figured I would much rather have a hen doing the hard work out in the chook pen rather than trying to incubate them using an electric incubator then incandescent light globes under which to keep them warm (we bought day old chicks last time) and as Lynda says, they are so sweet and cute and funny, particularly if they get their fluff wet! They so rock out the 80’s punk spikes then. 😀

  3. says

    yay new chickens! I hope they appreciate their new home. We gave in and bought 3 commercial hybrids for winter laying, and they are giving us 2-3 per day, but I still prefer the pure-breeds for long term survival (and eating), even though they have nearly 6 months off laying each year :( (possibly we need to find a better breed)

  4. says

    We just added an Isa and a Leghorn to our reduced ‘girls’ numbers. We have a couple of particularly bossy girls in our little lot, so we opted for the ‘side by side’ yard abutting the other and a three week introduction period.

    We had a few ‘issues’ but neither of which were the ones I expected (namely, an almost immediate death and a houdini).

    We also ummed and arred about Isa vs Heritage but in the end our options were limited for other reasons.

    Hope your additions go smoothly into the feathered fold! :)

    • says

      Cheers Kristy. Your chicken garden looks fantastic. Lots of interesting things for them to do.

      Sorry about Sunshine, but these things happen.

      Gav x

  5. says

    Gav, what do you do with the old ones. Do they live out their days in Cluckingham Palace or are they ummmmmm (dispatched). I’m really confused about which breed to choose. I know i will get eggs with Isa Browns but also want a couple of silkies for fun. Will they go together. Isa’s dont have a good reputation for being friendly. We can only have six here in Wyndham so im probably going for two of each. What do you think? I love that you bond with your birds and opening little picture is cute.

    • says

      Hi Lynda, the old girls live out their days basking in the glorious surroundings that is Cluckingham Palace. It is their right, especially seeing that they have laid so many eggs for our family.

      We have our main laying hens (ISA Browns), and a couple of Pekin Bantams that follow me everywhere just as pets. They do lay, but not as often as the larger hens.

      Hope that helps.

      Gav x

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