Himself will call me ‘the chicken whisperer’ *sigh* – based on me saying I reckon a certain hen will start to lay soon or some such.
But it is just observation. I like spending time with the chickens. Not, obviously, if it is raining, but otherwise spending some time with them watching their antics and getting to know them,.. getting them used to me, is half the point of keeping them (the other half being the eggs!). And as a side benefit, I notice things.. if one is off colour, which hens are the cockerel’s favourites, who spends too much time hanging around the hen house etc.
There are various give aways to when a pullet will first come into lay. The cockerel’s have a fair idea who is laying (don’t know how? ), so treading is an indication. And their comb becomes bright red (maybe that’s how the cockerel knows?), and they start looking for a nest. In practice this means a lot of visiting the hen house during the day to choose a nest box. This seems to go on for a few days before the eggs arrive.
Having observed a certain pullet had a bright red comb, was visiting the house a lot, and the cockerel was taking a keen interest in her, we spent some time last weekend making three nest boxes to go in the new trailer hen house. Made from all reclaimed wood, and not looking particularly Heath Robinson for a change.
The last sign for forth coming eggs, if you happen to time it right, is the pullet missing during a check – as she will be sitting on the nest. And this afternoon she was missing. Actually four of them were, including two boys. They weren’t in the hen house, but I found them inside a huge bushy plant. The suspected pullet was nesting.. fussing about making it just right and the other three had come to see what the fuss was about and whether there was anything in it for them.
You’ll notice she had shunned our lovely new nest boxes….
Anyway, I left her to it – this egg laying business can take a long time and much that I like observing, there is a limit. Besides, it was time to light the barbecue.
But I went back at dusk, and they had taken themselves off to bed, and leaning into the vegetation, I picked up her first egg. Small and speckly brown. Not bad for a cuckoo marans at 19 weeks old.
So, 22 weeks ago, that pullet was just an egg, and now the first of the hatches of this year are grown, the cockerels crow and tread, and the pullets have started to lay eggs. Full circle.