I mentioned some of our older birds the other day, and thought I'd talk about the younguns, too. I bought 17 replacement laying hens last week. Some of you might want to know that I bought 5 Buff Orpingtons, (my favorites) 5 Barred Rocks, 5 Cuckoo Marans and 2 soft blue Americanas. I was on my way to a beautiful flock of laying hens for the next two years or so. I also picked up 25 broiler chicks; birds destined to be supper for Pine Ridge Farm. I headed out yesterday to take some pictures, and then got busy in the evening. It's a good thing I never posted, because you would have fallen in love with them and their youthful adorableness.
And I'd hate to have your heart be broken like mine was.
This morning I went out to find that some animal had gotten into their closed hut last night and butchered all of my laying hen chicks, and four of my meat chicks. The most likely culprit was our own little pack of rats, since the only openings were less than half an inch wide. Those beasts can squeeze into anything! I don't think they dare take on the adult birds, but these little darlings were less than a week old.
Rats and mice are to be expected wherever grain is left in the open, like in our henhouse. We have been fighting these disgusting things for two summers before this one. We've sent the terriers after them, we've trapped them, we've poisoned them, we've shot them, we've even run water into their burrows. Still, we have rats. I mentioned earlier this season that I removed some pegboard which was nailed to the chicken house walls, allowing them places to hide and nest. I haven't run out of ideas, but I apparently didn't implement them soon enough.
I took the remaining meat bird chicks and brought them into the house. Once they are feathered out, I'll put them back into the huts. In between now and then, I'll also be waging chemical, biological and conventional warfare on them. Take that however you'd like; rats deserve no quarter!