Sorting out the ‘pecking order’


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Chickens, Latest News | Posted on 23-03-2014

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It may be an old fashioned phrase for sorting out who is the boss, but we have certainly seen this perfectly in action over the past couple of weeks with the introduction of new chickens to our brood.

Rhode Island red Cockerel


Our first hens, who moved here with us from Birmingham, are Warrens, a crossbreed chicken known for their egg production; bred from crossing Light Sussex with Rhode Island Red. With this in mind, Mick and Hannah went chicken shopping! Twice! The first trip saw them returning with a gorgeous young Rhode Island Red Cockerel who we have named Rodney, he is only a teenager at the moment and doesn’t yet have his tail feathers, but he is beginning to crow and get the general idea of how to keep the hens in order. Five Light Sussex Hens moved in too, so that we can breed some more Warrens, and Hannah’s overdue Christmas present of a Black Rock, and a Speckledy completed the brood under Rodney’s control. The pecking order is sorted out just as it says on the tin, it seems that those who can front up to each other and look the more dangerous are in charge and quite literally take them down a peg or two. Those in charge get the higher roost in the coops, the others are on the pegs further down!

Light Sussex Cockerel


With all of our hens happily settled again, the egg production has increased, and I have regular orders from work friends, so much so, that Mick decided that with the ample space and the new coop that Mick built from a flatpack, we had┬áthe space┬áto have even more hens. This time it was a trip to the local poultry auction in Bridgnorth and Hannah and I returning from work that evening to be introduced to our five new Lohmans, a hybrid again for egg production, and the most beautiful Light Sussex Cockerel. He really is a gorgeous young man, mainly white with full black and white tail feathers; being the elder of the two males he is now in charge of the brood. He is a little cheeky, and has tried his luck at fronting up to Hannah and myself, but can be pacified with a handful of corn on the floor. He happily bows down to Mick now too; his spurs needed clipping, as they would have been dangerous to the hens; done gently with no pain to either Delboy (our name for him as he is Rodney’s older brother ish!) or to Mick, and he has settled in rather nicely. Delboy is in charge of the brood, with Rodney as his second in command, and one of our original Warren ladies firmly in third place; pecking order sorted out.

The next chicken purchase will be an incubator so that we can breed some purebreeds and hybrids of our own.

Chicken Breeds

A Light Sussex, Black Rock and Speckledy hen line up for breakfast.

Prepared whatever the weather?


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Chickens, Latest News | Posted on 13-02-2014

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There are times when following friends on twitter or Facebook; watching News 24, or even having the radio on in the car, brings us closer to the awful weather that we have been having. So many of our river towns here in Shropshire and nearby Worcestershire have been affected by the constant rainfall, and so many people have had damage to property and land; and with two more storms queuing over the Atlantic ready to attack, I wonder how much more damage can be done. Politicians and Environmentalists have already started the blame game, fuelled by the media; but realistically, there is nothing to be done but clear the mess and mend the damage.

At Wrickton hall we have thankfully weathered the first storm without damage. A few interesting drives along our country lanes in snow, floods and high winds have left me grateful for the log burner and a cuddle with the dog and cats on my return home; and I will admit to laughing when Mick had to chase the roof of the chicken coop down the garden in his wellies. But other than that and a couple of upturned patio chairs we have been safe and sound.

Winter Snow Near Bridgnorth

Snow on the road from Cleobury North to Bridgnorth

But I am not leaving anything to chance, especially with two more storms to come and media threats of continued weather disruption for the next month. Since we have moved in, I have kept and washed every sauce jar, and every plastic milk carton; recycling at its very best. Come the weekends, anything from the pantry that needs to be used up is turned into a sauce, or a soup, and saved either in the fridge or the chest freezer to be used when needed. I have spare milk in the freezer (this is the first time I’ve frozen milk, but it seems to have worked) a loaf of bread, soup, cheese, and a good supply of frozen chips!

Despite the cold wet and wild weather our faithful chickens are still giving us plenty of eggs, and we in return have stocked up on their food. Food for the pets is just as important as for us if we are stranded; so we have a stock of food in the utility room would probably last at least three months.Storm Damage

Spare logs are in the log store; I’m avoiding the standing joke in our household, that the myriad of books I have would make better fuel, and free up some bookshelves! Big woolly jumpers and thick socks at the ready, it’s time to batten down the hatches and hope that all those who are suffering from the weather can get through the next few days and weeks.

Happy Shropshire Freedom for our Chickens


Posted by Stephanie Cartwright-randle | Posted in Chickens, Latest News | Posted on 26-01-2014

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Happy free range chickens!

Keeping chickens is rewarding in so many more ways than just the delicious fresh eggs. They can be quite interesting characters too, and today they have been particularly cheeky, getting the better of me from the minute they were let out of the coop this morning.

Free range chickens in ShropshireTheir usual routine is to head straight for the newly filled food troughs to eat their corn and layers pellets, but not this morning! Magic and I had left the gate open at the other end of the yard when we had gone in to say good morning, and as our girls came out of the coop they ran straight for the open gate, much faster than I could get there to close it. Thankfully we haven’t planted anything in the garden yet, and they enjoy eating the grass and scrabbling around for any unsuspecting worms, a real treat. With all six of the girls out in the garden, the chances of getting them penned back in were zero, Magic’s skills at rounding up chickens are as bad as mine; the chickens are completely used to Magic and in the most the girls ignore him; so we duly left them to enjoy the freedom.

But today our garden wasn’t quite enough, the grass obviously looked greener in next doors garden, and this afternoon they were enjoying a taste of that too! Thankfully chickens take themselves to bed as the sun sets, and all six ladies are now present and correct having found their own way back to their coop, and have been shut in for the night.

imageFour eggs today, which seems to be our average at the moment, as the weather improves we will probably be getting the full six again, or maybe more…

The plan is to get some more chickens. Hannah’s delayed Christmas present is a pair of black chickens, which we will buy in a few weeks time, and Mick is looking at buying a Rhode Island Red cockerel and Light Sussex hen so that we can breed Warrens. We have four Warrens already, our original four chickens, a hybrid chicken that is particularly bred for egg productivity. I wonder if the baby chicks will be as cheeky as the grown-ups!