This morning we went downstairs to feed the chucks as usual!We gave them their water, checked the eggs and counted them to see exactly how many laying hens we have! We get around 6 eggs a day from 16 hens!!! That’s Egyptian breeds for you! We only own three of those hens! And I’m pretty sure that one of them is only starting to lay, as in the last week we have found soft-shelled eggs.
Initially we thought that she needed more calcium so we added it to their feed but the second time we found it it was in their basin of water!!! My mother-in-law had told us that when a hen lays a lot of eggs and uses up her resources that she will lay soft-shelled eggs. But I pretty much doubted that she would lay them in the water! Then I remembered that when young hens are getting ready to lay that they lay ‘odd’ eggs. So I looked it up! Yep. It happens! It is one of our hens.
This morning while we were feeding them I saw one hen, the one with the bare sides and head, get into the basin of water and just sit there. Aha!!! Now I know which one it is! Easy to identify when we come to separate them next week.
Yesterday morning, after we had fed the chucks, we heard a van announcing something over a loud-speaker. It was the chicken man! He sells poultry door to door. We ended up buying twelve four-week old hens, well, one of them is a cockerel but never-mind!
I wanted some Naked-necked chickens and a silver pencil Fayoumi as I love the colours. The Naked-necked ones are the best layers of the Egyptian varieties and better suited to the weather so I definitely wanted them. Although, finding pure-breed anything here is an impossibility as they are not really interested in breeds so much as egg and meat production in the home.( But I’m not sure that that the one in the picture is female!!! It has a bigger comb than all the others. If it turns out to be male we will have to think again about how to house them as we have a cockerel already.)
The man in the van grabbed all twelve chicks by one leg and handed them to me in a bunch, squawking! I tried to make sense of this bundle of legs, wings and heads and supported them underneath so I could bring them upstairs to our flat!
The family expected me to put them in with the other laying hens but I wanted to quarantine them first and then introduce them slowly, or even give them their own run!! Our other four new hens were still getting used to being with the others and, because we are building a new place for them, I didn’t want to add to their stress!!! The newbies would just have to stay upstairs in the spare room in the flat!! With the overhead fan and ceramic floors!!! The family all think I am crazy! My mother-in-law joked that the hens were living on ceramic tiles while she had a dirt floor!
But I want to do this the way I would have done in Ireland and the UK. The chickens welfare comes first! Because animals are not really seen as having any value other than their function they are used to the full but not taken care of properly. People here do not realise that animals feel pain, or might not be happy or might be hungry, or might not like actually being chained to a three foot long chain for all of your life just so you can guard the house!
Chickens are just food and therefore deserve no real care. When we were given a broiler this morning as a gift it was handed to me by the wings. I held it the way I would normally hold a chicken, supporting its whole body, and when we sent it upstairs with one of the girls she immediately went to grab it by one leg. I told her to carry it properly and she was worried about it pooing on her!!! She would be eating it in two hours so what was the problem!? Even a broiler needs to be treated well before it is killed.
Anyway, I put it in with the new chicks and gave it a little peace, and water, before it had its throat cut, Halal-style. Its life might be forced but at least its death gave it some respite!