We brought home 45 new chickens today. That was the easy part.
First we had to get rid of the old chickens. Since we have two chicken coops, we only replace one coop at a time. That way we always have some eggs, and are able to keep some if not all of our egg customers happy. We always get new hens before the farmers markets start. The aim is to have the hens in full lay during market season, as that is when we have no trouble selling all the eggs we have. We are only allowed to get 99 pullets (young, ready to lay, hens) each year from the hatchery. Theoretically if you have more than 99 laying hens, you need to have an egg quota from the government.
Usually we only keep the hens for one year, as that is when they lay the best, as these are commercial brown egg layers, that are bred to produce. After the first year, on average the egg quality will decline a little bit. We end up with more soft and thin shelled eggs, and the hens don't lay as many eggs.
Last year we replaced the hens in one coop, and kept the other hens on for an extra year. We were a bit low on eggs during the summer, but then once the farmers markets were mostly over, we didn't have such a surplus of eggs.
We had forty hens left in that coop of older ones. There were originally quite a few more. Some were lost to predators and some just up and died. There was also a rooster and the hen that hatched the two chicks last summer, and the hen chick. We were keeping those three. The young rooster was sold in January.
I asked one of my friends who has chickens like us, if she wanted to buy (cheap) some of the old hens. I told her we were getting 20-24 eggs a day from those 40 hens. She said sure, as long as she could pick and chose, which was fine with me. So she came out and picked out 20 hens that she thought were laying, and that she liked the look of.
A test for determining if a hen is laying is to measure the distance between the points of her pelvic bones. My friend said a space of two finger widths was the right amount.
The next day we got 16 eggs out of the 20 hens left. Oops.
I won't let my friend live that one down for a bit:)
(I googled it, and three finger widths was the right distance)
I haven't heard yet how many eggs her hens laid this week. I'm guessing not too many.
Next I contacted the person that had bought the young rooster, as she had indicated she would take the old hens when I was ready. She said yes, and we arranged for her to come that evening.
They didn't show up, and they didn't call.
Some people are just so inconsiderate.
I put an ad on Craigslist.
A family came last night, when they said they would, and took the last 20.
Thankfully some people do what they say they are going to do.
Now it was really down to the wire.
We had to pick up the new hens this afternoon. This morning the chicken coop had to be cleaned out. We change the bedding fairly regularly, but when new hens are coming, I like to give it a really good clean. That means the pressure washer.
So this morning, which was a beautiful spring morning, we were out there pulling out all the nest boxes and the roosts and everything else that was removable.
The pressure washer started on the second pull! Yay for equipment that starts!
Here's a tip. A friend who has an small engine repair business says to always put fresh gas in after a long time without use. Gas goes 'stale'.
Trying to pressure wash inside the small coop wasn't completely successful. I would get the wall clean and then when I tried to do the floor, everything was splattered all over the wall again. There was no where to drain the water out, as there were sills at the doorways, so I had to shovel and squeegee it out.
An hour and a half later it was done, as well as everything that we had taken out.
Now to get it dried.
The wind had really picked up, so the doors and windows were left wide open and a heavy duty fan was blasting inside. The fan we had picked up when someone dumped stuff from a marijuana grow-up in a ravine just up the road. Some people are disgusting.
Just after lunch we put everything back in the coop, spread new hay over the floor and in the nest boxes, and put food and water in.
The truck was loaded with dog crates and cages and off we went.
The guys at the hatchery come out of the barn carrying 5 chickens by the legs in each hand, and stuff them into our cages.
When we got back home, Luna was beside herself with excitement over the truck full of chickens. We had to physically remove all the new hens from the cages and crates. Even if you open the door and try to tip them out, they flap their wings to keep themselves in the cage. They looked a little shell shocked in the coop, but they'll settle down pretty quickly. By the looks of them we will have to wait a few weeks before they lay any eggs.
Oh yeah, Luna got another 'bath' this morning. She was hanging around while I was pressure washing and was getting the overspray full of chicken coop debris blasted all over her.
This time I just turned the hose on and she tried to attack the water and I was able to give her a good spray down.
After she shakes she's good as new.
Join in Farm Friend Friday over at Verde Farm.
Join in Farm Friend Friday over at Verde Farm.