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Posts Tagged ‘Chickens for beginners’

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Every few weeks the Silver Campine chicken “Silvie” doesn’t lay every day, but the day after the no egg day we get a huge double yoker egg from her.  Even though she is the most timid out of our 4 backyard chickens she is the only one that has ever laid a double yoke egg!  She is a very special hen!

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Goldie the Vorwerk chicken has been laying for 7 days, the middle row starting from the left is day one, across to day 6. I cant wait to eat them!!

All our chickens are laying now, at the top of the photo are the appenzeller eggs, then the middle row are the Vorwerk eggs, they are a lovely creamy peach colour, and the bottom row are the Silver Campine eggs, they are very similar to the Appenzeller, they are a slightly different colour and a touch slimmer.  The Silver campine has laid 3 double yolkers in a really short time too!  Her eggs got bigger and bigger when she started to lay, and that was why!  None of the other chickens have laid any double yolk eggs, so even though Silvie, the Silver Campine is super timid she is a very special chicken.

Also our Appezellers had their 1st birthday on Monday, Happy birthday Tufty and Whitey!

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These are the last 3 days of eggs from the new layer, every day they have got bigger! I can’t imagine them getting much bigger than that though, todays is the same size as a large supermarket egg. I’m still not sure who is laying it!

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I have just been home and collected the eggs from our back garden chicken coop, the 2 on the left are the Appenzeller eggs. The 1 on the right is much bigger, over the last few days the 3rd egg has been much smaller, so hopefully this will be he size we get from now on. I still don’t know which one is laying the Silver Campine or the Vorwerk! I’m going to order a video camera to hook up in the coop so I can find out.

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I’m getting concerned that our new chickens might be cockerels, they turned out to be much larger than I expected.  The Silver Campine chicken (Silvie) had a real growth spurt on her comb and wattles, her tail feathers are also getting longer!  Following a poke around on line it seems that cockerels will start crowing before they are 4 months old, our Silver Campine is 22 weeks old on sat so hopefully she is a she!!

Silver Campine Chicken picture

I would hate to have to get rid of her.  I don’t think the neighbours would like even more noise from our backyard chicken flock!

Silver Campine Chicken image

Yesterday however, Goldie the Vorwerk chicken squatted for the 1st time, so I’m pretty sure that the Vorwerk is a hen!  Hopefully we will have eggs from her soon.  She will also be approx. 22 weeks old on Saturday.  I wonder if her eggs will be distinguishable from the Silver Spangled Appenzeller eggs?  How exciting!!!!

Here is a video of Goldie the Vorwerk and Silvie the Silver Campine eating out of my hand, I put the Silver Appenzeller mafia in the other section of the run and closed the door to keep them out, poor Silvie is the bottom of the pecking order and is still so timid.  This way she gets some treats without getting bullied!  The Appenzellers, Tufty and Whitey were not happy at all, pacing back and forth along the mesh!

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We have 2 Silver Spangled Appenzeller chickens, I wanted to share my experience, what I know about this breed, and tell you about the personality of Tufty and Whitey:

  • They are very attractive, they are white with little black speckles almost like spots.  They are like the Dalmatian of the chicken world!
  • Both are very vocal, particularly in the morning, even before you let them out of the coop, and throughout the day, I think Whitey is the noisiest, even though Tufty is the boss (Tufty wares a foot ring, it is sometimes hard to tell them apart  they are almost identical when stood together!)
  • They are Definitely intelligent, and very confident, if they know you have food they will jump on the table and beg for some, chatting to you like they think you speak chicken!
  • Loves to be free range
  • Don’t like to be enclosed in the chicken run – if they have had a taste of freedom!
  • Very good flyers, I clip one wing on each bird to be on the safe side.  I don’t clip both just in case they need to get away from a predator.  They can still fly with one wing clipped, they just are not as good at it!
  • They are apparently flighty, but ours only fly when threatened, or when they are deciding who is boss, or when they race down the garden to get treats from me!  I have never found them in the trees.  Only on the top of the coop, or on the bench.  I’m sure they could clear the 6 foot fences if they wanted to but I don’t think they have.
  • Very good foragers, when they are free ranging in the garden they eat hardly any pellets, they eat anything! (foods my chickens love)
  • Ours started to lay after 36 weeks
  • Lays white medium eggs, they are big for the size of bird.  Yolks are the same size as supermarket eggs, but there is slightly less egg white
  • Should lay between 150-220 eggs a year, everyone seems to have different figures, once they have laid for a year I will know how many we got!  We do normally get 2 a day though
  • Ours lay in the coop, sometimes in the nesting box, or just under the perch, I have never found eggs in the garden.
  • They squat about 2 weeks before they start to lay, every time you get close to them they squat!  Ours have carried on doing this as long as they are laying, but when they stop they also stop squatting!!
  • Once they start to squat, very easy to handle, if they are not squatting you would be lucky to catch one!!  We have tried to handle ours as much as possible, they are easier to pick up in the afternoon
  • They dont seem to get any more vocal after they have laid an egg
  • Ours have not gone broody
  • They are aggressive towards new flock members, but this did settle down after a week or 2 (for more information on introducing new chickens to a flock)
  • Average weight – Male 1.60 – 2.00kg (3.5 – 4.5 lb), Female 1.35 – 1.60kg (3 – 3.5 lb)  I will weigh mine and up date you
  • Classification – Light, Soft Feather
  • V-shaped, horn type comb with two small rounded spires and the unique “mohawk” crest points forward like the bonnets on the traditional costume bonnets worn by the ladies in the Appenzellerland region – Spitzhauben means pointed bonnet
  • Powerfull beak, bluish in colour, large deep cavernous nostrils and a fleshy knob at the front of the beak
  • Eyes dark brown
  • Comb and wattles bright red
  • Ear-lobes bluish-white
  • Shanks / Legs and feet blue
  • 4 toes
  • Hardy in winter

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It was the 13th day of Introducing new chickens to our flock when the new chickens went in the coop for the 1st time without assistance, we have made progress!! I felt like a proud parent!

I’ve been worried since we got the new chickens, the question was “why wont my chickens go in the coop at night?” I went home fully expecting to have to pick them up of the floor of the chicken enclosure and put them in the coop as normal, but I couldn’t find them. Lifting the lid of the coop I saw them nestled underneath the perch, snuggled together on the floor. The other two chickens were roosting as normal on their perch. I was so pleased!

As beginner chicken keeper, keeping chickens at home in the back garden, I’ve had to rely on books and the internet for advice, we are learning as we go along. When we got our 1st 2 chickens they learnt to go in the coop and roost very fast, so we never had any concerns about how to get our chickens in at night. We thought it would be the same this time. We were wrong!

The next question is “How long will it take our chickens to learn to perch?”

I have also started a strict routine to try and tame / train the new chickens. I let the chickens out of the coop in the morning but keep them in the enclosure, rather than letting them free range all day. This is also helping the garden recover! Every lunch time I go home at about 12.30, let the Appenzeller chickens out in to the garden, give them some treats, strokes and pick them up if I can!

I then go in the enclosure and do the same with the Silver Campine and the Vorwerk chickens. Silvie was still very timid however Goldy was always very tame. I wanted to see if I could make progress with Silvie. I go in, say “ladies” in a soft voice, and then crouch down and open my hand, showing them the corn. I constantly talk to them, and say ladies every time they go in for some treats. Silvie now has less of an issue eating out of my hand and she also lets me stroke her back very occasionally! I have tried to slip my hand underneath her the last few days to pick her up, but she flaps away instantly, She does come back straight away though. Goldie just let you pick her up, and carries on pecking the corn!

However, Over the last week or so, we have had more of an issue getting the chickens in the coop. Strange, as they now all know what to do! Take last night for instance, I went out to lock them away and Whitey, Goldie, and Silvie were all roosting the lip of the coop roof. Tufty without fail was perching. I don’t think she would ever give up the best perch! I suppose it is better them be on the roof than on the cold floor. I picked them all up and pushed them through the door.

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