We haven’t had the best start to the New Year up here. Sadly a stoat got into the coop and killed two girls, badly injured another, and the final girl was found running down the track (we aren’t sure how she escaped both stoat and coop!).
The badly injured girl had to be culled. Thankfully both myself and Gary know how to do this. If you are planning to keep poultry I highly recommend going on a course to teach you how to cull an injured bird (or birds for the table) so if the situation should arise you can do it cleanly and swiftly. Alternatively make sure you have a local poultry friendly vet so should the need arise you can obtain medical attention fast.
The surviving girl was taken to a new home. It makes me so sad to do this, but the stoat would be back and without her flock she would be both in danger from the stoat and lonely. She quickly integrated into the flock at her new home and when we saw her last weekend she was following a cockerel around looking rather pleased with herself!
We have made the hard decision not to keep poultry at all in the garden for now. We will however still be keeping poultry up at the small holding and hopefully breeding this spring as planned.
I have to admit I love breeding poultry and have missed having the pipping of eggs and tiny chicks for the last 2 years. Now is a good time to start planning if you do want to breed poultry. We’ve a few handy guides on the site about planning, incubation and hatching your own birds as well as lots of information in our book Backgarden Chickens (which also come with free poultry plans to help you build homes for your expanding flock!)
I will be starting with bantams this year – most likely Chocolate Pekins. The plan is to also purchase a couple of POL (point of lay) hybrids to keep up in eggs while the flock develops. I will keep you all up-to-date and hopefully plenty of pictures along the way.