Monday, July 23, 2007

far-sighted chickens and new eating patterns

I've noticed recently that the girls can recognize me from over 50 feet away.

As soon as I walk out the back door of the house, the girls rush to the front of the run and quickly pace back and forth waiting for me to come let them out to free-range in our backyard. Not saying they're sitting there waiting for me to emerge from the house, but I don't think I'll ever be able to sneak out to the back porch without getting their hopes up that it's free-range time.

I knew they were able to spy tender morsels (bugs or mushrooms or other goodies) in the grass that I easily missed, but this far-sightedness surprised me. I thought there was a trade-off to be made: you can be near- or far-sighted, not both. Take your pick!

Poking around the web a bit leads me to this article on Prairie Chickens as told by a hunter, and all he says seems to support the notion that chickens have particularly good eye sight. Huh. Go figure.

Moving on to eating matters: the girls are starting to gobble up their food as if there's no tomorrow. We went through the last seven pounds of chick scratch in just three weeks, and I know very little of it was due to sloppy eating habits. Yes, we've now got a bunch of other birds (sparrows, thrushes and the like) who've decided they like hanging around the outside of the chicken run to eat what the girls slop out of the enclosure, but they don't slop too much.

If I had a better understanding of just how voracious they'd become before starting to lay, I could get bulk food. But as it is, I'm just buying it by the pound out of a bulk bin instead of getting a big pre-filled bag.

I got twelve pounds of chick scratch this past Saturday, and I'm hoping that gets us really close to Time of Lay. By my calculations, we should have our first eggs shortly after Labor Day (hooray!).

I'm just hoping they learn to stay out of the nesting area and stick to the roosts before we get to the laying season. (that's another post entirely)


Linda said...

Thomas, I've been checking in every few days to see how your hens are doing and it's been great fun. I'm still mulling over the big decision on whether to get an Eglu or figure out something else, and determining if I'm really ready for chickens. We have 2 dogs and one cat already, so adding a few chickens shouldn't be that big of a deal. It does mean, however, that if we go out of town we absolutely MUST get a housesitter...and one that will have no issues with taking care of not just a cat and some dogs, but outdoor chickens, too!

I viewed your Flickr photos of Angus the dog with the hens. As I was clicking through the set I see that you have some photos of sweet corn you're growing in your yard. Boy am I envious! For 2 years in a row I tried growing sweet corn. Each year, when the ears were ripe the squirrels were a step ahead of me in harvesting them. I finally decided I wasn't going to bother anymore. Hope the squirrels in your area aren't as canny as the ones in Chicago!

Unknown said...

Hi Linda,

We've now taken a few overnight trips away and the girls have been just fine, if a little agitated at being cooped up for so long (I've spoiled them with their ranging the yard).

Our first time getting a house sitter will be next week when we go away for three nights in a row. Believe it or not, I've had several folks chomping at the bit to come tend the flock while we're away, so maybe the issue of taking care of chickens isn't as daunting as you might think?

Great to see you here again, and if there's anything I can do to help push you over the edge to getting an Eglu, please let me know :-)


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