Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nesting boxes & Duck update

You know how humans (MOST humans) would rather have a quiet, secluded place when it comes time to go to the bathroom?  
Hens (MOST hens) are quite similar when it comes time for them to lay eggs.  

Our established coop has four nesting boxes; and for whatever reason, our 4 hens favor the back corner box;  it's the box that typically has all of the eggs.

If you've been following all of the chickens-goings-on at our place for the past couple of weeks, you're already informed a little bit of the slight chaos going on.    Big Mama has been laying out in the wide-open north chicken run (although, the past 2 days, her eggs have shown back up in the nesting box -- a different one though);  and some of the new-comers have been escaping their south chicken run and getting up in the established coop's nesting boxes.  I would really be a happy Chicken-mama if those escapees would incorporate themselves with our established flock.  Every night, I've been making certain that any escapees are back in the south chicken-run to be with their flock;  one of these nights, I may not be able to!  The two black ones (no names given yet) were out-n-about in the yard today, venturing a little further from the safety of the chicken-run fence line.  They even appeared to be 'accepted' by Steve, the rooster. 

The other day when I was reading up on incubating chicken eggs (online), I started following some YouTube detours, and was a bit impressed with the simplicity of some DIY nesting boxes.    Here's the one I saw first:  Simple Tote nesting boxes.

Last night, after Paul left for work, I hemmed and hawed and finally just made one to put in the makeshift/temporary home for the new chickens.  I had a spare tote that had just been sitting unused anyway, and knowing that the new coop is on hold for at least another 3 days (until Paul is done working), I just wanted to give the new 13 hens a place to call their own.  For now anyway.
This morning, I set it out on the makeshift roosting bars/perch with a platform underneath.
I checked back 2 hours later....
HA!  It's amazing how quick and easy it was for them to figure it out!!!!  AND, the eggs are safe, and clean!
Knowing the nesting box-to-hen ratio is approximately 1 box-to-3/4 hens.... I wanted to get at LEAST one more box made for them.   I did a little searching downstairs in the basement and actually found another EMPTY tote!  It simply was meant to be.

The set up isn't going to win any awards, BUT it is only temporary.

And this afternoon, three more eggs showed up in the box I first set out!  It's just fun, exciting and simply neato that they figured it out so quickly.

Ruby was hanging out in the other tote-nesting box.  
The new coop, once finished, has 5 nesting boxes built into it, with an access door-lift on the outside for us to easily collect the eggs.  

SO, the new action plan:
I have stopped opening the main established coop door.  One of these nights, I'm going to forget to close it, and I would feel terrible if any of our hens are harmed due to forgetting that the door is open!  Our established flock has figured out to use the east access door to get in/out of the coop.  Life is good.
IF any of the new flock continue escaping the south run.......... I think I'm simply going to let them figure things out!  All of the escapees have made their way into the coop via the east access door and have been using the nesting boxes at various times of the day.  If they can't figure out how to get back into the south chicken-run, I'm hoping they'll be welcomed into our established flock in the coop.  There is PLENTY of space in the coop -- but that darned pecking order. 

On the topic of pecking order...
Our two big Pekin ducks have been banned out of the Quonset shelter.  
Sadly, our makeshift duckling shelter left us with only 1 of the 6 ducklings Paul brought home last week.  :{  We don't know what predator(s) may have gotten to the ducklings, or if some escaped and wandered off, but... we placed the remaining duckling into the Quonset with our two Peking (1 hen, 1 drake), two Mallard hens, Mutter and Baby duckling.   And those big Pekins kept picking on Big Baby (the name of the remaining duckling).  OUT they go.

However, Mutter has adopted Big Baby as part of her tiny lil' army; an army that will not be growing any larger than the one lil' hatchling from Sunday.   Yesterday (Monday), one of the eggs under Mutter was kicked off the nest, partially hatched.... but no sign of life :(  Then, this morning, the other 2 eggs were kicked off the nest;  no cracks, no sounds, and after a candling session, I elected to carefully crack open the eggs to give them a check.  Sadly, they both were developed, but no sign of life.  :{  {{and stinky!!!}}

Mutter is protecting both Big Baby and Baby.  Baby will be a mix-breed:  Mallard and Pekin; just like Mutter.  Actually, Big Baby is too.  Hm......now that we have the Pekin separated, it would be nice to get a Mallard drake into the quonset to 'mingle' with our Mallard hens.  Some purebred mallards would be lovely to have :)!

And look!  Another nest!
LOL!  ALL mallard eggs!  BUT, only having a Pekin drake available, all of the eggs would/will result in mixed breeds.  And those mallard hens are quite skittish!  This nest is close to the door to the quonset.   I've witnessed one of the mallard hens sitting on the nest twice now, but every time I've opened the door to replenish water and food, she's gone a'scootin' across the quonset for safely.  I HOPEFULLY have eliminated this problem by moving the feeder and waterer closer to the door where we can simply fill both by using the upper access-door (the door is split to a lower and upper door).
Tonight, while heading out to pick strawberries, I peeked into the quonset, and GUESS who I saw sitting on the nest!?!?!?!?!?!?

Silly girl!  I guess having only one hatchling may not have been enough for her.  I'm not sure she has it in her to sit for another 28 days.  **shrug**  We'll keep y'all posted on that story! ;)

Nope.  No toad-rearing going on here, but this little guy enjoyed a swim for most of the day.  He was in there in the morning when I checked on Mutter's nest.  He was in there in the afternoon when I checked in on Big Baby.  And he was still in there tonight when I wanted to change out the water.

On the crafting front...!
I DID do quite a bit of crochet today!  A few hours worth was done, actually.  More progress has been made on the Lazy Ripple "Fall/Asics" afghan, but no pictures of that progress.

Is it okay to say that I'm a bit excited to see how the chickens behave tomorrow?  The new chickens have two nesting boxes now;  will that be enough to keep some from escaping?  If they escape, will they figure out to roost in the coop tomorrow night (if I truly truly don't gather them back up into their run?)  How many eggs will be get tomorrow?  Today, we had 11.  

Happy July 1st everyone!


Andee said...

What fun! How you get any crafting done with all that animal excitement is beyond me! Nice job on the nesting crates!

scraphappy said...

So much duck and chicken drama. Sounds like much entertainment happening over there. 11 eggs! That is a lot of angel food cake!

Judy D in WA said...

Hens are funny! Glad your nesting boxes were such a success. Now I'm stuck in you tube land. LOL
I've never had ducks so I love following your adventures.

InfinityQuilter/Knitter said...

How exciting to hear about all your animals! Regarding the ducklings, are they locked up at night? The owls will get them otherwise. Ask me how I know. :0(

Hope you had a great 4th of July!

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