Meet “Beverly Clucky”
Wednesday, the Yellow Barn Poultry Co. had it’s first loss. Poor Gertrude holds a dear place in our hearts and we hope that we were able to make her five weeks with us comfortable and happy….and we think that she felt right at home here until that fateful morning when she went to live in the big chicken coop in the sky. And of course we have the portrait of Gertrude that Mary-Hall painted to remember her by.
Saturday, the Yellow Barn Poultry Co. got a new girl. She’s the cutest little 7 week old Buff Orpington pullet you’ve ever seen. And she totally thinks I’m her Momma and snuggles up to me any time I go out to visit her. And to be honest, I kind of AM her momma right now, as she’s not in the coop with our other three girls yet. But before I get into all that, you may be wondering how we arrived at her name.
I wanted to keep the female authors theme going with the new chicken name and came up with a list of lady writers that I admire. Keith, on the other hand was rooting for something a little more chicken-appropriate and easier to remember. So, after lots of thought, I came up with what I consider to be a home-run compromise. Gertrude had been named after Gertrude Chandler Warner, author of my very favorite children’s series, The Boxcar Children, so it only seemed right to name our new friend after Beverly Cleary, the author of the “Ramona Quimby” series, another childhood favorite of mine. Inspired by my hairdresser who named her cat “Catsy Cline,” after famed singer “Patsy Cline” (perhaps the kitty had a penchant for going walking after midnight? womp womp.) I opted to go with “Beverly Clucky”…paying tribute not only to the writer, but bringing in some “foul” humor as well.
The past 48 hours have been a crash course in poultry husbandry for sure. I’d seen briefly in one of the many chicken books I’ve read in the past few months that introducing a new chicken to the flock should be done carefully, but I didn’t think to do much research until after I brought Beverly home. And yikes. I kind of broke every rule in the book. Here’s a list of wisdom compiled from several different blogs, websites and books.
Tips for Adding a New Hen to the Flock
- Always introduce at least two new chickens, not a lone chicken…that way if they get picked on by the existing flock, they have a friend to back them up.
- Always quarentine a new bird for at least 30 days before letting them even breathe the same air as your existing flock, to prevent transfer of disease, many of which are airborne.
- Never introduce a juvenile bird into the flock. If it still “tweets” like a baby, it’s not ready for the flock.
- Always introduce your new birds to your existing birds on neutral territory, and when it comes time to put the new bird into the coop, do so at night while all the birds are asleep. They don’t seem to mind the newcomer as much if they wake up together.
Here’s what I did. I went and purchased a single, 7 week old pullet (my existing hens are now 13, 16, and 18 weeks old) and brought her home where I immediately marched her into the backyard in the middle of the day and brought her in the coop to meet the other chickens. Fortunately, I was smart enough to keep watchful hands on her. Jane complained loudly the minute she laid eyes on the new baby and scurried around the coop-yard chattering her displeasure at the top of her little chicken lungs. Sylvia on the other hand went straight for Beverly’s neck without a sound…fortunately I was still holding her and scooped her out of the coop to safety. I set up a pen next to the coop for Beverly so the chickens could all see each other without interacting for the rest of the day, and then secured Beverly and her temporary pen in the shed for the night so she’d be safe from rain and predators. Then I spent about 4 hours on the internet reading up on how to introduce a new bird to the flock.
After going through several rounds of feeling discouraged and then hopeful and back and forth, I’ve decided to take a sort of abbreviated approach to the “integration” plans that I found online because none of them really fit my circumstances.
Bringing Home Beverly: Plan of Action
- Even though we brought our chickens home at different times, they all came from the same hatchery. Everyone seems healthy so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
- Even though Beverly Clucky is only 7 weeks old and thus 6-11 weeks younger than the others, none of the others are really considered mature hens yet. No one is laying eggs. And even though they are the “established flock” we’ve only had them 5 weeks.
- Most folks online had large flocks. We’ve only got a total of 4 chickens we’re talking about here.
- Most folks had a rooster. We don’t. At least, ohmygoodnessIhopewedon’t. I’m having some questions about Sylvia. Hoping she doesn’t turn out to be a “Sylvester” instead.
I spent today organizing the shed and Beverly hung out in her little pen and tweeted at me for the morning, and then in the afternoon I moved her back out to “socialize” with the big girls from a safe distance. There was lots less chatter than yesterday, and Beverly seemed like she really wanted to be in the coop…she kept running back and forth looking for a way in. And when I moved her back into the shed at dusk (the weather forecast for tonight was terrible as were the storms that came through so she needed to be somewhere weather-proof), both she and the “big girls” seemed a little sad to be separated.
My next move (hopefully tomorrow?) is to put Beverly and her food and water in a large dog kennel and put the whole thing in the coop so they are all together but separated. I’m hoping all this goes well and I can get some “neutral ground hangouts” set up for Tuesday or Wednesday of this week with a nighttime “while you were sleeping” introduction Thursday night. But I’m not going to push it. I want my new little girl to be safe and happy and my big girls to behave.
SoThereYouHaveIt. A crash course in chicken-keeping and way too many chicken pictures all in one post. As for EggWatch2013….sadly none of our girls have started blessing us with any tasty bounty as of yet. I’m thinking Jane should be gifting us with something in the next 2 weeks or so. Hopefully she’ll hold it in until I get back from Brazil. And now, this Mama hen is off to her roost for the night. Gotta get up with the chickens…..
Anyone have any tips for adding a new hen that they would like to share? I’d love some input!