The chickens are now 18 weeks old and were so excited to see Orion children back at school! Like the children, they have all grown lots during the summer. They are now fully feathered and have bright red combs and wattles. The comb is the skin on the top of the chicken's head and the wattles are the bits below their beak. These help the chicken stay cool if it gets too hot. Hens will usually start laying eggs when their combs and wattles start becoming red - so watch out, we might get eggs soon!
On the second day back at school, one of the chickens laid an egg! The chickens are all 18 weeks old and chickens normally start laying around 18-20 weeks old. Our Orion chickens are hybrid chickens, which means that they are a mixed breed. Hybrid chickens could lay between 250 - 300 eggs per year! Wow! We have 5 chickens, so how many eggs per year can we expect?
The lovely hens are now all 20 weeks old! For those Maths Smart kids out there, how many months is that? We are now collecting 3 eggs a day!
The nest box is the space to the left of the hen house. It is a cozy, safe space with lots of comfy straw. This is where the hens lay their eggs. Sometimes, one of the hens likes to lay her egg on the roosting bars... Not sure why, but as long as she is happy! There is a small door on the left, so collecting the fresh eggs is easy!
You can see that the straw in the nest box is a bit dirty! The reason for that is because some of the hens have decided that the nest box is a far better place to sleep in than the roosting bars! Where they sleep, they poop...
All animals poo! The chickens do it, the rabbits, the snakes.... and so do we :) It's a way for our bodies to get rid of any waste. For people looking after animals, poo can be a good way to see if the animal is healthy or not! It seems horrible to think about looking at poo, but extra runny or different coloured poo can mean that the chickens are sick.
Poo can also be very useful! Did you know that chicken poo is often used as fertiliser for plants? Chicken poo contains lots of nitrogen which is a nutrient that plants need for growth. At school, we compost the chicken poo with other plant clippings which could be used in the school allotment in the future!
The chickens have been very naughty as they been flapping over the fence and straight into the area where the foxes like to hang out! For this reason, they have not been allowed in the yard on their own. Luckily, vet nurse Vanessa came to the rescue! Early one morning, she helped Miss Goh clip the chicken's wings. This is not a painful or harmful thing to do, it is a bit like cutting our hair or fingernails. The primary flight feathers were cut shorter which means that the chickens will be off balance and won't be able to flap so much. This will keep them nice and safe inside the yard. At first, the chickens seemed a bit cross for having their feathers clipped but they soon got over it! They love being able to roam around the whole yard pecking in the ground for bugs and eating the lovely grass. Happy chickens!
Nightingale started off wearing a pink leg band, but as she grew bigger, she needed another band so she was given a black band! Pet Club children decided to call her Nightingale because the black is the colour of the sky at night!
Look at the 2 pictures of Nightingale, The left hand picture was taken in June when she was 2 months old and the right hand one was taken in November when she was 7 months old. Look at how she has changed!
Nightingale is a nosy and bossy girl who likes to be first at everything! Although she is one of the smallest, she is one of the first to push her way out of the hen house in the morning! She will barge past her sisters to get to the food first and if there is delicious fresh vegetables available, she wants to be the first to eat it!
Primrose has a yellow leg band (evening primroses are yellow flowers). These pictures are of her when she was 2 and 7 months old. Primrose is the most ladylike of the girls! When the door to the hen house is opened in the morning, she will wait patiently until all her sisters have raced down the steps, then she will carefully and gracefully walk to get her breakfast! Sometimes, there isn't room at the feeding bowl for her, but instead of shoving or pushing she will wait for her turn!
This is Queenie! She wears a white leg band. Do you know why she has been named Queenie? Queenie is the bossiest and most daring chicken in the flock! Sometimes, she and Nightingale get into arguments over who is boss! She is easy to recognise as she has the most white feathers and is the biggest.
When Queenie was a chick, she loved to be up high. Have a look at the first picture of her when she was 2 weeks old - she loved standing on the feeder! The second picture of Queenie was when she was 5 weeks old, standing on a child! Queenie hasn't changed much - she still wants to be up high! You will often find Queenie standing on top of the hen house checking out what's going on and keeping an eye on what the children are up to! Queenie is also one of the first to charge out of the hen house for breakfast in the morning!
Pumpkin wears an orange band. Why do you think children choose to call her that? Because pumpkins are orange and she was named on Halloween! Pumpkin is one of the quieter chickens. She sometimes gets left out by the others so will wander around the yard on her own for a bit. However, she will bring herself back into the group when she is ready and will happily follow her sisters around!
Crackers doesn't wear a leg band. She started off having a blue band but because the colour was bright, the other chickens started pecking at it! The band was taken off in case she got hurt. Crackers was named by a Year 4 child who decided it was a good name because she cracked out of an egg! Crackers can be a little bold and sometimes likes to hop up onto the compost bins by the large shed! (She knows she's not meant to do that!) However, when she realises that none of her sisters are with her, she hops back down quickly!
The chickens enjoy an afternoon dust bath particularly if it is sunny! Although they have a wooden dust bath in their pen, the chickens prefer digging a hole in the ground and rolling around in the soil. Their favourite dust bath locations are along the fence - look out for shallow holes there!
When Pet Club children are cleaning out the animals, this is what happens! They find chickens in the shed! Our Orion chickens are particularly curious creatures and love having a good old nose! Perhaps they are trying to be helpful... If only they could hold a dustpan and brush!