A quandary of the egg-laying kind

To keep a flock of egg-laying birds in the backyard is a wonderful thing. Their eggs are deliciously fresh and the birds themselves are happy, often free-ranging, definitely scratching and finding bugs, they provide nutrient rich manure for the vegetable garden plus they are an endless source of entertainment.

But what happens when your chooks stop laying?

I am facing this dilemma at the moment. We have 2 old girls who have said "That's it, we've had enough!", and thus proceeded to not lay another single egg, and our youngin' who really should be laying but has decided to go into an unexpectedly early moult. How frustrating! Having to lower myself to buying supermarket eggs..free range of course, but one can never be sure exactly how free range is free range. I have heard stories of the birds being kept in huge barns, with only small access doors to the outside world and it is basically just pure luck for a bird to stumble upon this exit and the resulting lush green pastures that are pictured on the label.

"So what's the big deal? Get some more chickens" I hear you say. Well, I face a little problem. I like to keep my chooks in a 'tractor' during the day, which is rotated around my vegie patch. The tractor was only built for four chooks, maximum. Which is great, when they're all performing to my expectations and producing an egg every (or every other) day. But they're not. I can't recall when my last egg was, but I think it was somewhere around the three week ago mark. And even then it was down to a miserable two eggs per week. Now, if I was a hard core farmer instead of just the mere dabbler that I am, I would be culling those unproductive birds and placing them in a big pot. The flock would be rejuvenated and productivity would kick in once more. But I'm not a hard core farmer and I make no claim to be. Deep down I love the idea of raising our own meat, but I'm not quite there yet, in that mental frame of mind to actually go through with it.

What to do? What to do?

I did have a spontaneous brain wave the other day about keeping a separate flock of birds in among the fruit trees, but that would mean a whole new shelter being built and fencing and fox-proofing...etc..you get the picture. A great plan, but not a quick one to execute.

What to do? What to do?

Obviously frustrated with the lack of eggs in the house, the husband said over the weekend, "Why don't you just get some more chooks?", to which I then rattled off all of the reasons that were floating around in my head, with the tractor being the number one inconvenience.

But...but, could he be right? Just. Go. And. Get. Some. More? Hmmmm, quite possibly. Their overnight pen is certainly big enough to house some extra feathered friends. And the little pen I rigged up for the goats when they were little is still in tact, so could be put to use as a temporary pen for the new birds. And there is no reason for not putting some chooks in the tractor during the day and having the others stay in the pen, or ideally among the fruit trees, free ranging, to which no permanent shelter need be built because it would just be a 'day paddock'! Yes, perhaps it is that simple! Sometimes it just takes someone outside of the situation to put in their own two cents and suddenly the solutions come flowing.

To be continued.... here.

Our chook's night time pen, it utilises the east facing brick wall on our garage to protect them from strong westerly winds


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