Branching out in the Poultry World

Every last Saturday of the month is the Ffairfach Poultry Auction in llandeilo. This is where we bought the Khaki family back in the summer.

We’ve been talking about chickens for a while now. Initially we’d thought about allowing them to roam free in the wood, which sounded lovely and romantic. They could rummage around in their natural environment. How lovely. Then we soon realised, Mr Fox would be very pleased with this. Dinner on a plate… We decided it would be better to put them in with the ducks, where it is safe and there is plenty of space in there for them.

So, we had a look on the good old inter web for a hen house, which we found for a reasonable price. We know it’s not ideal, but it’s a perfect starter coop which cost so little it really doesn’t matter if it only lasts for six months.

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Mr Bumbleandme, a lovely visitor and myself set about building the coop. The weather has been atrocious so we decided to build it indoors and bring it outside to paint (yes we measured the door before starting to build!). As usual, the instructions were very vague, but we managed to get it built relatively easily and without much trouble.

We’ve painted it the same dark grey as the duck house. It was painted in the garage and then left to dry.

So Saturday morning arrived and we set off to the auction. We’d planned to be a little more restrained this time. We wanted some Indian Runner ducks if we could get some and then a maximum of four chickens.

We’d read up that Welsummers were good layers as were Warrens. Of course, as soon as we arrived and started looking at the birds we forgot all the practical bits about if they’re good layers etc. and concentrated on the pretty ones. We spotted some beautiful chocolate Indian Runners and a very pretty fawn and white Indian Runner on her own, looking particularly scared. The chickens were a little harder to pin down, but we narrowed our choices down to around five lots, including some pretty Bluebells.

When the auction started it was so exciting, all the bustle and hustle and the auctioneer talking so fast, you can’t hear what they’re saying. It was all going so quickly I could hardly keep up. I was very relived at one point when someone stopped the auction to ask which lot we were on! I had to do it myself on one occasion (slightly embarrassing). It didn’t help as the catalogue and the lots didn’t match up (that’s my get out clause!). Anyway, the auctioneer reached the Indian Runners, the pretty fawn and white one didn’t sell as it didn’t meet the reserve. Next up were the chocolate Runners. Mr Bumbleandme put his hand up when no-one was interested and with a small amount of haggling we outbid the others. They were ours! Beautiful little things. We were so happy. 

It took an age for the auctioneer to get to the chickens, but he finally did. There were several lots which we thought were ok, but as soon as they went above £9, we stopped as they weren’t ‘that’ nice. In amongst several lots of Warrens there two pretty little chickens which were obviously different from the warrens, but we weren’t sure what they were. When no-one was bidding on them, Mr Bumbleandme put his hand up, then someone else bid. It was all over in a flash and Mr Bumbleandme was flashing his bidding card at the auctioneer! He’d bought them! I have to confess I initially thought they were Warrens, which was fine, but on closer inspection we could see they weren’t. They are very pretty. We think they’re Welsummer crosses.

 It all got a bit boring from then on – I’m not good with crowds and after a couple of hours I’d had enough of the jostling down the aisles trying to keep up with the auctioneer. Mr Bumbleandme was in it for the long haul however. He’d spotted some pretty little speckled chickens and he stuck his hand up and won them on a maiden bid! They were described as Silkie crosses, which we’ve since read are not the best layers! Oops.

We’d purchase six birds in one auction! Our menagerie had gone from nine to 15! Oh my word! 

 The next thing to do was to get them in a dog crate we’d luckily remembered to bring with us! It wasn’t a little dog crate, no we don’t do sensible things like bring a small crate with us, we bring an enormous dog crate with us that will only just fit down the aisles!! Luckily we managed to get them all in without much trouble at all. It was quite uneventful, thankfully!

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Once home, we settled the chickens into the coop – which may be a little small, but I guess for the winter they’ll be cosy. They seemed very happy and were cooing away, drinking water and eating the pellets we left them. We decided to be brave with the ducks and just put them in with the Khaki’s. They too seemed very happy and the Khaki’s didn’t seem bothered. After a lot of peeking and checking they were ok, we finally decided to leave them alone – it was hailing, windy and very cold! 

 Of course I woke up very early this morning, eager to let the ducks out and check on the chickens. It had been snowing and hailing in the night, so there was a pretty dusting on the ground this morning as we ventured down to duck enclosure. We could hear the usual banter going on inside the duck house and as usual when we opened the door there was a frantic rush, flying of feathers as they raced down to the pond. Only this time they were followed by two beautiful chocolate Runners!  All seemed well, the Khaki’s seemed happy with their new friends, so we moved our attention to the chickens. 

 We’d been advised to keep the chickens in the coop for a couple of days before letting them out, so we decided to keep them in for today. We lifted the lid and found them cuddled up in the nesting boxes, looking happy. We topped up there water and gave them some more food, which they happily started eating. This mornings offerings were broccoli and cabbage which they enjoyed (so did the ducks!).

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We’ve been checking on them throughout the day. The chickens seem fine, if a little cooped up. We’re debating whether to just let them out tomorrow with the ducks, or keep them separate for a few days with a little fenced off area. We’re not too sure what to do yet.

The ducks are ok, there is a bit of pecking going on, but nothing that looks too serious. I guess it’s to be expected, after all the khaki’s are all related and have never known other ducks. We’ll keep a close eye on them, but I think they will be fine. They have been following the Khaki’s around and they are funny when they walk, like penguins! They walk so tall and upright!the Runners have been having lots of fun in the pond, their little tails have wagging away and they’ve been flapping their wings. Lots of preening has also been going on.

Getting the ducks in tonight was fun. We accidentally managed to separate one of the runners and it took us an age to convince her she would be better off in the coop. Poor thing, she just didn’t know where to go and I think we may have rushed her a little. I ended up having to catch her and out her in myself. Such soft feathers. They’ll soon get used to it.

Unfortunately I’ve not got very good photo’s, but as we all get used to each other, I’ll post some more. Watch this space……. and please feel free to leave advice. Thanks as always for reading, it’s great to know people are interested in our little adventures!

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