Egg production in our household has ground to a halt this week for a very sad reason. On Wednesday evening a fox broke into our supposedly impregnable Egglu and tried to carry away one of our lovely pet hens, Molly. I was alerted by Lexi’s terrified squawks and chased after the enormous fox. He dropped Molly and we took her straight to the vet, but she sustained some bites and sadly didn’t make it. She was a terrific hen and is very much missed by us and her best friend Lexi, who is now, unsurprisingly, a bit spooked and lonely. I brought her indoors last night and put her in a box in the hallway which seemed to cheer her up. Meanwhile, we are busy thinking of ways we can beef up security in the run. The fox pulled the door to the run off at one side. We hadn’t realised that the plastic ratchets which hold it together had weakened, so we need to get something a bit more heavy duty to keep it secure. It’s currently breeding season for foxes and chicken attacks can increase at this time because they need more food for their cubs.
Unfortunately Molly was the only hen who was laying. DJ doesn’t agree with me, but I suspect Lexi hasn’t laid an egg since about October/November last year when she started moulting. Her moult has long since finished but no eggs have been forthcoming as far as I’ve seen. We had to buy some from the supermarket over the Christmas period when Molly also took a break. DJ waved an egg at me the other day, swearing blind that the slightly lighter pigmentation on it compared to another one meant it was definitely Lexi’s, but I’m not convinced. It was exactly the same shape and size as Molly’s, whereas Lexi’s ones were always large and bulbous despite her slim frame. Not to mention the fact that since November we haven’t had two eggs produced on the same day, which would back up DJ’s argument.
We had been thinking about getting some new ladies on board to boost egg production and deal with the succession issue (hybrid hens don’t tend to live very long) anyway. But now we have little choice as we can’t leave Lexi on her own. It all feels a bit weird and tasteless replacing your pet when you’ve barely had time to mourn her, but unfortunately that’s the way it can be with chickens. We’re considering getting some pure breeds this time because they live longer, although they tend not to produce as many eggs as hybrids and are more expensive. So we’ve had our eye on getting some Orpingtons for a while. But it’s the wrong time of year and there aren’t many point-of-lay pure breeds available – usually breeders will incubate and hatch some eggs especially for you, but you have to wait four months for the chicks to mature – so we’ll have to see what we can find out there.
The other problem will be re-establishing the pecking order. No sooner do you get your lovely new hens home than your resident lone hen starts bullying them to ensure the new girls know who is boss. It’s not something we’re looking forward to witnessing as it can turn quite nasty. When we lost Louise a few years ago, Thelma was very mean to poor Lexi and Molly before the dust settled. We deliberately got two new hens so that the bullying wouldn’t be as bad. But DJ has come up with the idea of borrowing a separate run so that we can introduce the new girls gradually to Lexi without too much heartache (or bloodshed). It’s going to be an interesting weekend…
On a lighter note, with Valentine’s Day approaching, I’m undergoing a fresh new challenge next week. I’ll be investigating how much using online voucher codes can save me and DJ on our Valentine’s Day celebrations, so do stop by to find out how I get on.
Will you be splashing out on your loved one for Valentine’s Day or conserving your cash? Or got any good advice about how to keep foxes at bay? Leave a comment and let me know.
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