Thursday 12 September 2013

We've moved

Yesterday I launched my new website Bellecross Hens   where you will now find my blog. I hope you will follow me 'over to the other page'

It may take me a little while to get used to it but you never know I may even post more regularly!!!

Many thanks Sandra

Sunday 18 August 2013

FOR SALE: Gold Duckwing Welsummer Cockerels and Others

 As I have mentioned before, this season many of the hatches have been cockerel heavy
. We have culled many but it is such a shame to see strong, healthy birds go to waste.

All have been bred from my own breeding stock and meet breed standards and are good birds fit for purpose  i.e egg laying or table whichever the breed dictates.

So I have decided to advertise them for sale with all proceeds going to The Dartmoor Search and Rescue Team ( Ashburton)

I would be happy to use any of the cockerels advertised for sale in my breeding programme.

Please take a look at the album of photos in the link and contact me if you are interested in any. More will be added at a later date.

Thank you.

Photos of Cockerels for Sale

Saturday 17 August 2013

In a blink of an eye...

........yet another month has past by.

Autumn is fast approaching. There is a definite nip in the morning air and the evenings are drawing in. Everything is beginning to wind down. The hens are beginning to go into their annual moult and are laying fewer eggs. They are going to roost earlier each night and waking later each morning.

A few birds however are hanging onto the hope of an Indian summer and are broody. Despite my intention of ending this years breeding season with the hatch due in a couple of days I have decided to take advantage of one of the broody hens and do 'just one more hatch'.  - Welsummers.

The chicks hatched from the incubator a week ago are strong, healthy and full of life. Four have already gone to a new home to be cared for by a broody hen.

Photo: Latest arrivals one day old

 The 'Twenty Good Layers' have also been delivered to their new owner. They were the largest single 'hatch to order' of hens I have done this year. It proved to be quite a challenge as many of the early hatches were cockerel heavy but I was pleased with the finished flock and more importantly so was the customer.

Thoughts now are turning to plans for next year. As this years cockerels mature those showing promise are being selected as possible stock birds. Decisions are being made for new housing and new pens.

My biggest decision of all is whether to buy in a flock of utility laying hens to help meet the demand for fresh eggs. At present I keep a closed flock and have only traditional pure breed hens.
The hybrid flock would be kept separate from all the other groups and kept for laying purposes only.

A decision I have come to, somewhat reluctantly, is to sell my Gold Duckwing Welsumm
er stock cock. He is a smashing bird and has proved his worth over the last two breeding seasons producing many strong, healthy chicks with good markings and dark egg laying pullets. However next year I intend to use one of his sons and just don't have the room to keep too many cockerels.

Photo: Gold Duckwing Welsummer cock. 2011 hatch.

1st photo: Late 2011
2nd photo: August 2013

Thursday 18 July 2013

Has it really been that long ? !

I can't believe it is so long since I last posted. Even my quick up to date news is out of date !

Time has past in a haze of grass cutting, house cleaning, egg collecting and of course chicks hatching.

It has been a good season, with many strong , healthy chicks making an appearance, albeit a high proportion being male. Fertility and hatch rate has been excellent.

Many birds have gone to new homes. I have 20 to go in the next couple of weeks when they reach POL - a misleading term I feel as generally POL is considered to be 18 weeks of age but I find many of the more traditional breeds don't actually come into lay until 21 + weeks.

Tomorrow I am going to set the incubator, possibly for the last time this year. I will then break up the breeding pens and re organise the birds into different groups.

Photos: Exchequer Leghorn pullets now in a home in Cornwall

 Photo: A few of the 20 pullets off to a new home in a couple of weeks

 Photo: 8 week old chicks (showing mostly the cockerels) ready for sale.

To keep up to date take look here. I tend to post more regularly on this page as it is so much easier.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Busy times

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted on here.

This time of year is always busy with broody hens and chicks in every corner, the grass to cut and pens and houses to maintain It is also one of the most rewarding times

A few photos of broody hens and the young stock enjoying the fine weather....... at last.

Photos: The latest three broodies.They were only given their eggs last night, so still have three long weeks of sitting to go.

Photos: Taking a well deserved break and enjoying a dust bath. Just 10 days left to go, the young Indian Game X pullet has been excellent.

Photo: Taking time out in the shade. The last few pullets from the first hatch of the year.


( the following two broods to hatch are at the yard )

Photo: The 5 week old chicks, almost old enough to join the others at the yard

Photo: A very protective hen, taking her week old chicks into the coop out of ' harms' way

Photo: Latest hatch, 3 days old.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

First broody hatch of 2013

The Indian Game hen has hatched 8 of the 9 eggs placed under her 21 days ago.The 9th chick sadly failed to hatch despite having pipped all around the shell.

The hen is one, if not the best of my broody flock. 

At the end of November last year, she hatched and raised 17 chicks from 19 eggs, despite the dreadful winter and she is the first and so far only bird to have gone broody this season.

I have four of her November pullets for sale, but as she is now 'getting on' in years I think I may keep a couple, hoping they will be as good a broody as their mother.

However for now a photo of 2013's first chicks to be hatched naturally - for me the best way. There is nothing like a mother hen and her chicks.

Photo: Indian Game hen and 3 of 8 Gold Duckwing Welsummer chicks


Monday 15 April 2013

2013 update on hatching

With the eggs under the first broody of the season in the process of hatching I thought it was time to post an update on this year's hatches.

The chicks from the 1st hatch of the year are growing at amazing rate and now are probably more correctly termed growers rather than chicks. They are 6 weeks old and for the past week have been living in the stable at the yard without heat, but with a good covering of straw on the floor and with boxes to bundle into together for warmth. At 8 weeks they will be old enough to venture outside, as long as the weather is good and the birds that have been reserved will be able to go to their new homes.

The 2nd hatch of the year are now 2 weeks old. They were also hatched in an incubator, as my hens are very slow to go broody this year. At the weekend they were moved from the pen with a heat lamp to a pen with a dull emitter bulb, giving them a more natural day/night cycle rather than constant light.

I have another batch of eggs set in the incubator, as this year I have received many  pre.orders for chicks to P.O.L. At the weekend I candled all but the Welsummer eggs ( their shells are too dark to see very much at 7 days) all were fertile.

Photo: 1st hatch 5 weeks old just before their move to the stable

Photos: 2nd hatch:  3 days old. 1 week old and 12 days old

So, so far this year all is going well. Fertility is close to 100%, hatching rate not too far behind and the chicks to hatch are healthy and strong. All I ask for now is for a few more hens to go broody and for the weather to improve.