Friday, 2 July 2010

Laying away

One of the drawbacks of truly free range poultry is just that..they are free to range. The Indian Game (table bird) flock have freedom of most of our land, the exception being the Welsummer (laying) flock area and the orchard.

With their freedom comes choice, choice to scratch around and feed where they like, choice to find a suitable hiding place to go broody, more often that not amongst the hay bales in the feed shed and choice to the best site to lay.

This is where life becomes difficult for us. For the past couple of weeks egg numbers have dropped dramatically. At first we thought it was a combination of having several hens broody and the time of year, yet somehow the sudden drop didn't seem 'right'. We search all the 'obvious to us' sites but found nothing and then yesterday we spotted a collection of 10 eggs under the hedge in the apiary, laid by three different hens. However this didn't account for all the missing eggs, today another secret site deep in the churchyard hedge. How many more I wonder?

Their house is clean and dark, the nest boxes sufficient in number and frequently doused with mite powder, they just prefer more natural, cool, shady, secretive places I guess.

I am just waiting for the day now when a hen suddenly appears with her brood following along behind.

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