In the little henyard, there are three Welsummer hens, they are March 2011 hatch, so just about a year and a half old. For those of you new to chickens, it takes anywhere from six to nine months for a pullet to begin laying. In fact, this week, I found two eggs that I suspect came from THIS year's April hatch, for the first time.
After a year or so of laying, a hen begins to slow down, and lays only a few eggs a week, sometimes three or four. I had always heard good things about Welsummers, so last year bought three from the chick man at the feed store. It's a pain to raise baby chicks, sometimes... you spend lots on feed and keep warm lights on them and take special care of them... and sometimes, before they even lay an egg, a predator gets them or they disappear into thin air. I had high hopes for the Welsummers and for the gold-laced Wyandotte that I got with them.
Here is Hilda, one of the Welsummers. Mind you, they are molting, but still...
Here's Tilda, her sister.
And this is Wilda, the third Welsummer. Go figure. Has her figure and all of her feathers.
Here is the sad thing. I'm lucky if I get three eggs a week out of any of these girls.
In the little henhouse yard with them are Rockette, the gold penciled Wyandotte, and Mabel and Mack, two elderly mixed hens that I got with the bunch in the spring. Mabel and/or Mack still lay twice a week, a large buff colored egg. Rockette also is only laying maybe two eggs a week, so looking back, these birds have not been good additions to the flock. (I'm referring here to the Welsummers and to Rockette). Oddly, the little hens in this yard, the silkies and mixed silkies, are all laying daily.
When I bought chicks in the spring, I did NOT specify Welsummers, which were some of the sexed birds the chick man had... I asked for black and red sex links. Somehow, another Welsummer got into the batch, and I realize it as I have watched them mature. They are also kind of the flibbertigibbets of the fowl world.
I have never put a hen down because she did not lay... but now, in these days of high feed costs... I am starting to reconsider. There is a poultry processor in the little town where my oldest grands live... and it would be convenient to take a batch down to them. They would be stewing hens only, but I don't know if I can actually do this. We'll see.
I'll take some pictures tomorrow of what Keith has accomplished in the new henhouse in just a few hours of a very busy week for him.