Saturday, October 20, 2012

Welsummers

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...

 
Ratty-looking.
 
 
Here's Tilda, her sister.
 
Ratty.
 
 
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.
 
 
 
 
 

5 comments:

  1. Please don't. :( I know nothing about Chickens, but is a dream of mine to own some one day soon. Perhaps change their food? Are you sure their diet is sufficient for them to be laying more eggs? I don't know. To me, when I take on chickens, whether they lay or not, they will have a home for life. Same with my dogs. Perhaps you could try to rehome them instead of "doing the deed"?

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  2. I've been frustrated with mine too...red sex links and barred rocks...I've never gotten 100% from them! Do you have access to any combined corn fields nearby? I glean our fields after the corn is harvested, and last year I was able to reduce my purchased feed by almost half, by feeding them ear corn that I picked up off the ground.

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  3. I have had the best luck with Black Australorps. A big chicken and a prolific layer. They handle captivity well and are easy to handle. They are record layers of large brown eggs. The record holding hen has been 362 eggs in one year.

    Yes, sadly it is part of poulty keeping to thin the flock. It should be very easy to have someone else to butcher them for you. You can pretend they are supermarket chickens when you eat them.

    Wishing you success.

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  4. My only Welsummer has never been a great layer, and is the most obvious molter as well. Today I got three eggs total - and they were all pullet eggs! Not a single egg from the seven adult girls....

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