Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Where do I start? Most of you might be aware that in December we bought three light sussex chickens. There was a saga with the ebay chicken house and one was killed by our dog, then the Infrastructure Manager (IM) was forced to build a better house and run. When we went to get a replacement chicken we came home with two which brought our brood to four - Betty, Flossie, Bubbles & Lavendar.

We chose Sussex as a breed because they look like chickens, are supposed to be good with children, are purebred heritage, lay large quantities of normal size eggs over a long period of time - possibly as long as seven years, we'll have to wait and see. While I have no intention of ever breeding chickens for meat, they are what is considered 'dual purpose' and are good for both eggs and meat. They took a long time to start to lay, until we despaired of ever seeing an egg. I understand they were between 12 & 16 weeks old in January. Add on five months at four weeks a month that made them between 32 and 36 weeks at the start of June and still no eggs.

We were going away for a five day weekend so we bought a large feeder that holds 5kg feed at a time and two automatic water cups so we didn't have to worry about them while we were gone. Murphy's Law came into play when the eldest, Betty, decided to start laying the week before we went away... Felt a bit silly asking the neighbour to check for one egg a day for three days but figure next time there will be more ;)

At the last minute I decided to go to Tweed for one night with the boys and the IM let the chooks out for the entire day yesterday - there was a close call when he found them on the road once and had to herd them back into the yard (must fix the fence Ash) - and despite checking the nesting box twice (it is still a huge novelty and an awesome feeling to see that little egg there - usually we let David have the honours) there were no eggs in there for him to collect.

This afternoon when we got home, David and I checked the eggs (he can't reach the nesting box - we need to rig up a step or something) and there were two! That means that Bubbles has started to lay as well, wonder if poor old Flossie is feeling a bit jealous:). My chickens have paired off as we had two then (Betty & Flossie - both white) got another two (Bubbles & Lavendar - champagne & lavendar), the first two were downright nasty for a few days and while they do play together sometimes when free ranging they often hang out with just their best special friend.

Because we have been away I am not sure how many has been laid in a row yet. I started to write the date on them and we were up to five but iif we missed a day yesterday six. I think there might possibly two eggs missing somewhere in the yard from yesterday - will have a better hunt tomorrow and hopefully get in some gardening too.

The first egg weighed 48g and Betty's is now up to 60g today. Her first egg was a bit deformed and pointy at both ends while the one I found today from Bubbles was normal egg shaped but only 49g. Just been to check in the fridge and checked the weights of the eggs and they were all about 53g - the first ones were 48-49g so maybe each cycle that she laid the weight went up 49 - 53 - 60, I will check my theory with Bubbles in the upcoming weeks.

Poor Lavendar the baby is David's favourite and cops a lot as he singles her out to pick her up for cuddles a lot more than the others. She runs but he still manages to corner her sometimes, I let him play in the chicken house with his cars sometimes while they are freeranging in the hope they will accept him a bit more and let him pick him up without running away as much in the long run.

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Comment by Joanne Chung on June 16, 2010 at 18:25
Between 8 chooks, the most I have get per day was 7 eggs.. min 4 per days.. I think the reason for that is, I actually have 4 egg machines (commercial cross - Bond variety) in the mix.. I am lucky to see 5 Bantam eggs from 2 of my Wyandotte Bantam per week, lazy bunch..

Don't really know how much my Sussex lay per week as their egg is very similar to the Bond Black, and the Blacks are very regular layer..

Oh.. another thing is, after laying for just over 1 month (first egg 2nd May) Cookie the Sussex decided it is time for her to be a mum.. She went broody and went on egg laying strike.. the joy of keeping purebred...
Comment by Lissa on June 16, 2010 at 5:17
When the time comes for me to keep chooks........I'm going to ask you girls which variety of chook is the nicest to keep :)
Comment by Donna on June 15, 2010 at 9:58
Mine are all the same breed, so the same size as well (pretty much) which might make a difference too. My current plan is to wait until these four are producing less eggs - when all four are producing I am expecting to have about 4 x 6 = 20 eggs per week!

As they get older and production slows (hopfully not until they are four) then I plan to introduce another two 12 week olds. This time though I will probably keep them in a separate pen, inside the large run for a week and only introduce them gradually in the hope they don't get picked on.
Comment by Florence on June 15, 2010 at 8:05
It's always exciting to find eggs, even if it's not the first time :)
I start keeping my chooks from day-olds to week-olds.. so basically from baby chicks.. but they still pick on each other... when you think they're all getting along fine, then someone goes broody, or started moulting and the pecking order will go off balance... at least it happens with my chooks.. .. the two new chooks although were introduced a few months back, but they're still being picked on... maybe coz they don't fight back..

I think mainly it's the stupid leghorns, usually when an order is established, the ones in lower ranking bows to the higher ranking when they walk past or at feeding time, and the Australorpe and Araucana are okay with that. The leghorns on the other hand will still peck ... so I am not going to keep leghorns again, they are noisy too... although their stupidity are sometimes funny to watch....
Comment by Donna on June 14, 2010 at 19:11
They don't really pick on each other any more, they have paired off but do still spend time as a group nicely as well. These were 12 - 16 weeks when we first brought them home. I think if you bring them all home together they would be fine - it just seems to be when introducing new birds, but that is just my limited experience.
Comment by Lissa on June 14, 2010 at 19:07
How old were the chickens when you brought them home Donna? Do you think if chickens of the same age were all introduced at the same time that they might not resort to the pecking order and pick on each other? Might become tamer if introduced quite young also? My neighbours old chooks still pick on each other. They're so pretty to look at but not very nice personalities :(

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