As far as our birds are concerned spring has sprung! Our males are jumping on almost anything that moves, so jackets (saddles) are essential on certain favourite girls. The saddles we are currently using come from the United States. They do take longer to arrive once ordered, but they are handmade, high quality and come in a variety of patterns and colours. Best of all they are half the price of those available in the UK. Go to this page to see them.
With mating hormones pumping through all the males at the moment, we do of course have to put up with fights. The worst offenders by far are the bantams.
Needless to say we don’t leave them in a bloody state. They receive a full body wash followed by a hair dryer, which they absolutely love. Once they get over the initial shock of a hair dryer, they start to droop and doze off, some even turn their heads to one side to allow the warm air to rush over them.
Some of the boys are persistent offenders in the fighting stakes. We keep a special eye of these. When we see two males facing up to each other, a raised voice is often enough to get them to part, followed by another raised voice with a finger pointing at them. Strangely, our geese don’t seem to like chicken fights near them and will often run at the pair, causing them to part rather quickly. Our guinea fowl also hate fights in their vicinity and will charge at them to great effect.
As befits spring, we have to date raised some Japanese bantams, Vorwerks (a German breed, who share their name with vacuum cleaner apparently) and a small number of large fowl Silkies. All these eggs were hatched with a modern automatic incubator. We then had to find them a brooder. As the Vorwerk chicks were under our only heat lamps, we had to find a suitable broody hen to act as a foster mum, then there would be no need for artificial heat. At this time of year there isn’t any trouble in finding broody hens, we are almost tripping over them.
After trying several, the last one of which decided these chicks were definitely not for her and to underline the point she flew out of the brooder and tried to escape by flying hard against the workshop window. Finally, Solitaire came to our rescue. Solitaire is Belgium bantam and who’s whole existence centers on sitting on eggs or brooding chicks. I fetched her up from the Japanese bantam coop (her current home) and showed her the chicks. It was almost as if someone had flicked a switch, she almost immediately started to make that familiar clucking sound, so we put her down near the chicks and she gathered them up.
Returning to our new poultry saddles. The birds themselves clearly think these new ones are ‘the bees knees’. One look at our white Brahma below shows how jealous her neighbours are of such stylish apparel!