It has been over a month now that we placed the new flock of layers in with the older women. The transition has gone surprisingly smooth. Yes, there were some territorial disputes at first and Coadee and I ran a lot of interference but the flock is meshing.
I still think that the derecho that came through Western Maryland, brought them all together. Ever since that stormy night there have been no skirmishes, do not get me wrong, there still is a pecking order. If a little one impedes an older layer in any way, the older layer is quick to point or peck it out. Last night, I went to close the door to the trailer and saw then completely mixed with no pecking. That was a welcome sign and an indication that both groups have accepted each other as part of one flock.
The new layers are starting to produce eggs. They are these tiny little eggs a little bigger then golf balls. The shells however are as strong as any adults. They have even learned from the older ladies’ that the nesting boxes are where to lay their eggs. We are still finding one or two on the ground, as if the chicken was just walking along and out popped the egg. For the most part, we are finding more in the nests. The most surprising part is that the other chickens are not eating the eggs on the ground and we get to harvest them.
I did read about introducing old and new layers and most of what I read was cautionary. We did take extra steps to make sure the transition was not hard on either of the groups. Of course, when you have a sixty-pound English Sheppard in your yard your attention is more on the dog then the other different looking layer next to you. The older ones especially are attune to Coadee. The older birds know they are okay when inside the electric fence but they are still leery of the dog.
I did not teach her but. Coadee will instinctively run towards two chickens that are squaring off, just to break up the ruckus. When I first saw that I thought it a fluke, but when a saw it a second and third time I was amazed. I am learning more about the dog then the dog is learning from me.
Well it looks like there is cohesion. I am still trying to keep the older ladies inside the fence, but when I till, the turned soil is just too much of an attraction. Coadee for her part hides when the tractor is in use or at least is not anywhere in the vicinity. I have to stop what I am doing, whistle for Coadee and then she comes and herds them back to the pen. I still have not been able to get Coadee to make the chickens get into the pen, but at least she gets them close.
This has been a good year from a growing perspective and a year that we really needed for our own psyche. If it were not for the support and generosity of our customers, friends, colleagues and family we would not be doing this. With that in mind I am please to say, for the birds, the transition is complete.
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