It was about 3 months ago, back in April that we got the Naylor Welsummer hens, so I thought it might be worth doing a bit of an update. It’s certainly an experience keeping hens and can be very rewarding.
Initially we kept the hens inside their run for about a week so that they could get used to us and get used to their new home. They settled in quickly and it got to the point where we knew they were ready to explore as they were getting quite noisy confined to their run. Letting them out into the garden was a little scary as the vet had suggested that we didn’t clip their wings in case they still needed to fly up to get away from cats. (btw the chickens and the cats get on fine and they leave each other well alone) Our garden is mainly enclosed but we made sure any exits were blocked and opened up the run.
We had read that hens are very instinctive of their territory and will always come back home to roost at night, and that’s exactly what they do. I think it must have been the weekend when we first let them out so that they could be supervised, so the Monday at work I was a little concerned, but when I got home they were absolutely fine. In general all chickens do is wander around, pecking at things and picking up little things to eat… oh and poo a lot! That’s one thing that you have to accept if you’re going to let your chickens free range.. is that they will poo everywhere and picking it all up isn’t a very nice job. Here’s Tilly, Milly and Bella tonight roaming around.
After a few weeks we started to get a regular supply of eggs, at least two a day from the three hens, and fresh, free range eggs are just fabulous, really tasty with bright yolks. It must have been towards the end of May though that they started going broody…basically the need to sit on the nest all day to try to hatch a none existent egg. It started with Tilly, but then they all went broody. At the moment we’re not getting any eggs so hopefully they will soon snap out of it and get back to normal. I have tried various so called remedies such as moving them off the nest, but they just sit in the run, and I’ve also tried dunking them in a bucket of water every few hours which is meant to cool them down, but that didn’t work either. I’ve been told that I should get some fertilised eggs and put them underneath them to get some chicks.. but that’s the last thing that I want right now.. more animals!
The chickens really love it when I fill up the bird feeders in the garden as they pick up all of the spilled seeds, and any that I put on the bird table they will fly up and eat. They love sweetcorn and brown bread crumbs and will eat it out of your fingers. I tend to give them some soaked porridge oats in an old Frisbee every evening which they really love, and because I’m generally the one that feeds them they will follow me around in the garden or even if I am looking out of the window they will bound over.