We've had our two little Pekin Bantam chickens for over two years now. They are well and truly part of the family and have been a fantastic addition to the City Garden.
However the reality is that as a heritage breed that still have the instinct for being great mothers very strong in them, and being jumpy little things, we don't actually get many eggs. When they are laying, the eggs are small (about 40g each) but delicious. But they only lay every two or three days; are very often broody, which I've written about before (so stop laying); at this time of year they moult slowly but steadily for seemingly months (so stop laying); and are very easily put off by a myriad of other little issues that upset them or their routine (so stop laying!). With them heading into their third laying season, they are also likely to lay even less eggs this year.
|A small but delicious bantam egg|
We've been vaguely thinking about getting another one or two chickens for a while now. For all the fun of having the two Pekins, the idea of actually getting a regular egg supply from our own chickens is pretty tempting and really, the point of it all. So we've been looking at which type might be the most appropriate, and considering how best to integrate a couple of newies with Red and Blacky, without it turning very nasty, and without the garden being completely decimated (we got the bantams primarily because of their feathered feet which can't do much digging damage to the garden).
This weekend we were driving in the country and stopped off at a farmers market just to get some morning tea. But there was a woman there with a stall selling 10wk old pullets, just the most average white and brown cross-breeds (New Hampshire crossed with Rhode Island Reds or Leghorns). We chatted with her, thought about it, walked off, had a cup of tea, thought about it a bit more, and then went back. By then she had just two white ones left. So we bought them!
On getting them home, they were put into a cage in the garden so that they could see the Pekins and each group could get used to the other, without danger. Once it got dark and the Pekins went to bed in their house we sneaked the two newies into the house, and after a bit of initial ruckus they all settled down for the night. This morning, after a bit of surprise at discovering the two extra bodies in their house, everyone got up and jumped out into the garden. The newies settled in and started eating and exploring straight away. While the two groups have been a bit wary of each other during the day, there hasn't been any grief, and just a few minutes ago the two newies managed to find their way back into the chook house and everyone is settling in for the night.
This might actually work, and I can't wait to get some eggs that actually fill our beautiful egg cups!