The laying flock are kept at home in an enclosure 42ft by 30ft. giving them plenty of room to scratch around and do what comes naturally. In the winter when the vegetable patch is empty they are often encouraged out of their run to help rid the patch of pests.
In the run, offering shade in the summer is a Rowan tree and a Crab Apple tree. There is also a couple of Dogwoods and an Ornamental Bramble. A couple of upturned roots from old apple trees give them somewhere to perch and to search out bugs. Despite being provided with boxes of soil and sand for dust bathing their prefer to dig their own hollow under the coop. The whole enclosure is fenced with 6ft wire netting but at night they are shut in their house for extra protection.
We have recently changed their feed from commercially produced pellets to our own mix of wheat, rolled barley and cut maize on the advice of a very experienced and very successful poultry keeper. Cod liver oil is added regularly to their feed to provide extra vitamins. Cider vinegar is added to the drinking water on a daily basis. The only scraps they are fed are surplus greens from the garden and the extra worm or two.
So let me introduce you to them......
Cream Legbar - blue egg layer, one of the most popular eggs in the box.
(top hen of the two on the ramp)
Cream Legbar is quite an old breed and one of the few that are auto sexing ( meaning the chicks can be identified on hatching as male or female due to their colouring) They were created by crossing Araucanas, Brown Leghorns and Barred Rocks. It is from the Araucana they get the blue egg colour and the crest on the top of their heads.
Silver Grey Dorking - white egg layer.
The Silver Grey Dorking is one of the oldest British breeds and unusual in having 5 toes on each foot. As well as layers of good size white eggs, they make a good size table bird when crossed with an Indian game cockerel. Ours have proven to be good sitters and good mothers.
Partridge Welsummer - brown speckled egg layer.
Welsummers are beautiful birds laying very dark, speckled eggs. The Partridge cockerel is very familiar as the *Kellogs* cockerel. We now have another recognised breed of Welsummer the Gold Duckwing cockerel. This year we will mate him to our Partridge hens.
Light Sussex - cream/tinted egg layer.
( the hen in the background is a Brahma )
The Light Sussex is an old dual purpose breed, meaning it is a good egg layer and also a good table bird. They are classed as a heavy breed and are active, bright and docile birds.
Speckled Sussex - light brown/tinted egg layer.
Thought to be amongst the oldest of breeds and of similar character to the Light Sussex