|The Gold Laced Wyandotte - beautiful birds with natural camouflage|
And hooking up with a local chef we have been sharing five dozen eggs with another grateful family each week. It makes such a difference to have some help with buying feed.
Even though we have had a couple of incidents with the free rangers being attacked by dogs, things are going well and it appears the chickens themselves have adapted their foraging behaviour to make themselves less vulnerable. What they do is forage on the side of the hill so that they have greater visibility of approaching threats and are able to move to cover more quickly.
Also, my management of the lantana undergrowth offers less cover for the predators – the line of sight is improved for the chickens.
So, full of confidence and wanting to add to the flock, I was searching online for a local breeder of some of the more attractive varieties of birds.
After visiting Maitland Show earlier in the year, I identified Wyandottes as a particularly beautiful bird.
But the trouble is most breeders offer day old chicks for around $5 -$10 and the logistics of raising the birds up to the age where they can mix with the existing flock is just not realistic. I didn’t want to have to keep the chicks separately for almost four moths whilst they grew up in size.
Then I found a local breeder who had a couple of ten week old pullets and after a few calls the deal was done.
The Gold Laced Wyandotte is promoted as a great family bird with an easygoing temperament and good egg production. Plus, most importantly, it has a delicate lace effect on it’s feather edges which gives it a painted appearance.
I can’t wait to see the birds mixing with the flock and bringing some more colour. There is plenty of information about adding new chickens to and existing flock. I will give the new girls a brief introduction with the other birds, but then let the existing flock out to free range whilst the new birds can stay behind in the enclosed pen to acclimatise to their surroundings.
My main worry is that the new girls might be bullied once they go inside the night hen house and I’m not really sure what to do to protect them whilst inside. I have added extra perches and some bricks so there are plenty of roosting places, and I will restock the hay bedding so that there is as much distraction as possible.
But I have noticed in the last few weeks that the birds are showing signs of pecking each other, with bald patches and stripped quills on the nape of the necks.
Again, my inexperience shows and I am not sure whether this is entirely normal as the birds get older or if it is something more sinister.
Let’s hope again that it is all ‘just what happens’.
Photos coming soon – camera still not working.