Well thats May out of the way and the weather as usual was variable, from wet ,cold and windy to warmish with a bit of sun and some nights it got pitch dark.
The birds are laying well and the fertility tests I have taken have been very good. I usually set a hen and put a selection of eggs from different pens under her all marked up with the pen number on. About a week later I do a crack test to see if any have started and the only pen that has given me problems are my Black Sumatra bantams, no wonder they are rare. Set 6 and all clears. Set another 6 and 2 fertile, set 7 and 3 chicks, the rest were full, but she came off to attend to the chicks. I’m going to leave them for a month and see if they improve with the longer day light hours.
I have a couple of bunches of chicks running around the place, both now without any supervision from a hen as they have rejoined the flock and started laying again.
Both these groups are let out first thing in the morning and they return to their coops and are locked up at night. They do well looking out for themselves and hold their own against all the adults out free ranging.
The grass has started to grow again and I have taken a first cut with the lawn mower. The birds get a big fist full of this in each pen and it’s free protein and readily taken by the birds. Within a week or two the clover should be back in growth and that’s the time I look forwards to most in spring. The chicks are put onto it in grass runs or handfuls are picked and put into the growers runs.
I don’t intend to hatch many this year, as every winter my work load seems to get heavier and looking after hundreds of birds is very difficult in bad weather.
I have to reduce my stock levels on the poultry and sheep. I will sell on 50 or so sheep this autumn and reduce my lambing ewes to a more manageable number.
The poultry side is more difficult to down size, as I have to keep a number of groups to hold the lines.
This season I have a pen of Improved Indian Game running with an Australorp Rooster to produce hopefully a better Welsh Black.
But they will have to be good to beat last years birds. The breed evolves a little each year and this year I’m hoping for some nice birds.
I have lashed out and bought 6 eggs from Cobra Asils, which if they hatch will be run on and eventually bred into one of my Indian Game lines. Every pure bred breed needs a bit of a gene boost now and then and by putting back a breed that were used in the original making is usually a good idea. The purists will feel that dilutes the breed by adding another to it, but I don’t show my birds and need to keep the fertility and vitality up by adding hybrid vigour.
There are many ways of improving a breed, but you need to know what the best examples of that breed look like.
I attended a very large poultry sale at the Smallholder weekend at Builth Wells last month and there were hundreds of birds for sale through a dealer who buy from all over the country just for that sale to smaller sellers that in honesty should be banned from attending shows like this with the condition of the birds they brought in to sell. I cannot understand the organisers of such a prestigious event allowing people like these in selling sick birds to the general public and even more surprisingly people stupid enough to buy them.
More to follow if it ever stops raining.