We spent the weekend sorting out the poultry.
The cockerels from this years hatch are beginning to mature so we have started to reduce the numbers. On Friday we dispatched four of the oldest - 3 Welsummer and 1 Indian Game Ixworth cross. We weren't expecting much from the Welsummer birds but we were disappointed with the final dressed weight of the IG/IX.
With hindsight they were given far too much space to roam and also ran with the young POL birds. I am reluctant however to house them as it is moving away from my idea of raising birds with as much freedom as possible.
The remaining younger cockerels are now running separately from the pullets and have the run of only one pen, possibly still larger than recommended but a compromise.
Although not as large as we had hoped, the conformation of the IG/IX was good with more breast meat and larger thighs then the Welsummer, who are in reality a laying strain.
Amongst the next batch of cockerels are 2 Indian Game cross Australorp birds who already are much larger and heavier than the other breeds. Definitely the way to go.
Most of this years pullets are now running together in a fresh pen. They have settled in well and look close to lay. I am keeping 6 of the Welsummers to breed from, the rest of the birds will join the laying flock for the time being.
The Exchequer Leghorns have also been moved to a new pen and other than making a decision on which of the cockerels to keep will now remain together as a breeding group. Yesterday, at 22 weeks old one of the pullets laid her first egg. A good size for a first egg from a small bird. They are showing promise.
The older hens are still at various stages of moult. The few that have completed their moult are looking very smart and their fine appearance exaggerates the sorry state of the rest. One poor Light Sussex lost most of her feathers in one go and now they have started to grow back resembles a young prickly hedgehog.
With just the layers and the Indian Game left to sort and move we are now almost organised for the coming months.