I always thought that three chooks was a good number to start with, and it was. Sadly after losing Buttercup in January (possibly due to Marek’s disease) our flock was reduced to two. Chooks like being with other chooks, it’s a flock thing. Things were getting a little crazy of a morning when Bluebell would be out in the yard by herself and would ‘buk buk!’ loudly until Big Betty decided to come out of the coop and venture outside. Was Betty busy laying an egg in the coop? Nope. Maybe she just liked to stay in the warm coop for a bit longer on the colder mornings!
My though was that perhaps if we had another chook to keep Bluebell company in the run, that she’d quieten down of a morning (happy household, happy neighbours, happy chooks). Plus the plan was always to get more chooks, so here was a good reason.
The advice I’d received and read was not to introduce just one new chook to an existing flock, so that meant finding two new chooks. I wanted them to be around the same age and size, and they needed to be vaccinated. It would be a bonus if they were different colours (so I could tell them apart!) and kid-friendly; even though our two Barnevelders will be hand fed, they’re still not keen to be handled by the kids.
So I started looking for POL (point of lay) chickens. That immediately put pure breeds out of my price range (at around $60-$70 each) and there aren’t a whole lot available at POL anyway as people put orders in for them when they’re chicks. So what about the standard ISA brown types and hybrids? The backyard layers that are easy to get and friendly too seemed like the best choice.
I made a few enquiries and chose Chooks on the Hill. Mel and Rick have just started up their business and were happy to help. After receiving my requirements list (!) Mel emailed me the names (yes, Mel names all the chooks!) of two hens that she thought would be a good fit and sent through a photo of Magic and Joyce and we made a time to take a look. Based just our Berwick in Guys Hill, the farm is lovely. The chooks are looked after by Rodney the rooster and enjoy true free range conditions. They are handled by kids and adults alike and are happy, healthy chooks.
Of course we had to ask about the names; Joyce (she’s the lighter coloured one) was named after a lovely local lady further down the street. Magic(she’s the orange/brown one) was named after she went missing, vanishing for a few days (and thought to have become dinner for a fox) and then she reappeared a few days later.
The kids came along and helped to round up our two chickens and placed them in the box to transport home. I also gave them the chance to change the names, but they decided to stick with Joyce and Magic. Once we got home the kids gave the chooks a cuddle and let them into the coop.
There was a bit of bickering in the first week, but now, two weeks later, everything seems to have worked itself out – and we haven’t once been woken up of a morning by a noisy Bluebell. The kids are loving the new additions and have spent lots of time in the garden and in the chicken run looking after them and collecting eggs.