Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Welcome New Hens!

Here are the most recent additions to our crazy menagerie of barnyard animals, eight Buff Orpington hens! Our flock had dwindled over the last two years from eight hens to only four and they were struggling to keep us stocked with eggs. Although we keep our chickens until they die of old age, the winters always claim a few hens every year. We had to break down and actually buy eggs a few weeks back, and it was at that point we knew we needed some additions to the flock. Luckily a friend of ours had a big flock that was her daughter's 4-H project, so she was happy to find a (vegetarian) home for the surplus hens!

Introducing them wasn't nearly the ordeal I was fearing. For about an hour the new hens sat hudled in the corner, the old hens sat watchfully in the other corner and Rocky the rooster was pacing back and forth between the two. One at a time a new hen would come out of the corner, Rocky would do a little dance around her and then, accepted into the flock, she would walk over to the old hens to get pecked at. This procedure was repeted for all the newcomers until all twelve hens were mingling and getting along in relative order. And that was it! No real fighting at all!

The two groups still prefer to keep to themselves while they're out, but the flock seems to have totally accepted the new hens. We're now up to between six and eight eggs a day on average, which is great for this time of year!


  1. Hello Owen,

    I have enjoyed reading all your posts and am happy to have discovered your blog. We also have a small flock of 15 Rhode Island Reds, that we plan to keep until old age does us part. Since our climate and breed of chickens are somewhat similar I was wondering just how many years your hens normally lay before they stop altogether?



  2. Hi Mike,

    Glad you're enjoying the blog! That's great that like us you're keeping your old hens. Ours have such interesting individual personalities that we could never ship them off to be made into Mcnuggets when their production slows!

    We've had our oldest hens for only two years (we're pretty new at this!) so I'm afraid I'm not much of an expert on the laying habits of senior chickens! My impression though is that they really slow up their egg production rather than stopping entirely, although I could be mistaken of course. Our two year old hens lay a bit less than the new one year old hens and I've heard that after two years the big drop in production occures. I think it's at two years that most commercial operations would get rid of their hens, unfortunately.