December 21, 2018

2018 Surprised Me With Some Good Things!

I learned a few things in the past year!
Several experiments gave me answers... and an article on hen genetics explained the subject clearly.
I had some good things happen, even though the year was so chaotic.  You'll never believe all that happened!

First, I'll begin with last fall, November 2017.  I kept extra birds, because they were so nice.  :)  What an exciting time I had making plans for 2018!  I had 82 birds, which is 'way more than I had planned, but such nice birds that I just had to keep them for one year's breeding!

I also began The Apple Experiment.  Several years ago, I discovered, by accident, that consuming a large amount of apple stopped my chickens from laying!  I was given about 80# of fallen apples and I dumped them out in my poultry yard.  Within a week, my hens were not laying a single egg!  Several elderly farmers cautioned me to feed small amounts, instead of all they wanted to eat each day. Plus,  I have read that putting water cleansers in their water may also slow the canary hens' egg laying (canarytales.blogspot).  The water cleanser mentioned contained citric acids.  So, I began to feed apple, with an occasional water treatment, as an experiment.
And I also began a simpler seed diet.   Well, it worked.... the majority of the hens delayed egg laying for several months. (continued)

The big event of 2018 turned out to be The Winter!
The winter began mild in November and December.... but turned nasty in February.  Really nasty!  The snow began to fall and so did the temperatures.  When it was all over, we spent 10 weeks with so much snow we had to leave the trucks parked and drive 4-wheel drive tractors to feed the cows. Nighttime temps were -30 F and colder, with daytime temps below zero for weeks on end.  All this meant extra time and work outside.... and soon we were all exhausted.
I decided to not breed my canaries in 2018.
Things were wild and hectic outside, as all that snow melted over several days, and soon we were in the middle of a record flood.  But, my birdroom was at peace... or close to peace.  :)
I had a few hens who kept laying eggs in the corner of their flight, but for the most part, everything just waited while the work raged outdoors.

I did pair up three pairs in July as they were not molting, and they were experienced parents, plus they seemed in proper condition.
There are a dozen youngsters that I am keeping for 2019.

So, what did I learn?
1)  It's not the end of the world, and the canaries will forgive me, if I have to change my plans!
The apple does seem to contribute to hens not laying eggs.... although I also kept the birdroom on short hours and cooler temps, plus fed a simple diet.
3) I began to think about dominate/recessive genetics.  I am also reviewing my hatch records and observations from the past 6 years.  I am learning which hen is dominate for a fault (!!!) and which hen produces great chicks with one male, but poor chicks when paired with his brother!  More on this as I begin breeding next year.
4) 82 birds are too many, for me!  :)
I sold several dozen, and culled a hand full that had obvious faults, or produced less than average chicks.  My number is down to 65, including the  young ones and some NEW ONES!  More on the the new birds soon!