Special delivery

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As we’d reached desperately low egg levels last week, James was very keen to draft in some new birds, so on Sunday morning off we went to local farm shop Upson’s, where owner John keeps a lovely selection of pullets. He also clearly loves spending time with them, providing moments of respite from the bustling shopfloor. James was determined this time that we weren’t going to pick fancy types that don’t lay regularly, so we entered the spacious chicken sheds and chose two Bovan’s Goldline, one Redco and a Rhode Rock as we have these types in our flock already and know their yield is impressively high – around 280 per year, so they’ll be offering up lovely brown eggs most of the year. We were struck by how friendly and strokeable this clutch were and John agreed that the latest batch are particularly docile.

Back home, we know the drill by now, so it’s a pretty smooth operation. The dog kennel and small run, which is out of use at the moment, serves as the perfect holding bay for new girls. They remained there, with a bowl (or wide flower pot!) of layers’ pellets and a
supply of water until dusk, though the spirited Rhode Rock flew out on several occasions during the afternoon. Once it was dark, we clipped their flight feathers so they didn’t scarper and, as the existing rabble had already taken to their perches it was safe to introduce the new girls. That way they all wake up together in the morning and the interlopers are more easily accepted. There is still some hostility, however, and I always forget how mean the old flock can be to new recruits, but they’re all simply jostling for places in the pecking order.

The pullets spent most of Monday and Tuesday in the house, where James had providing food and water, suspecting they may not emerge, and have been hiding in the nesting box when we’ve gone down to shut them up for the night. We spent half an hour or so hanging out with them on Tuesday evening and are keen to keep handling them in order to retain their sweet natures. Does anyone have any other pointers for keeping friendly with your flock? I’d love some tips.

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