Saturday, July 11, 2009

Coop Clean-Out and Other...

I spent the day cleaning the coop and doing yard work extrordinaire...Here is a picture from about 5 minutes ago.

For the first time today I watched them all eat weeds! They left my garden alone and ate WEEDS!!! And then pooped!!!! Doesn't get much better than this. This is sad, I am not playing in a rock band or traveling to Paris and getting excited - No... I am watching chickens eats weeds and poop. That is just pathetic..

Friday, July 10, 2009

Roosters Over-Taking Kauai Pt. 2

It is a small island and I was contacted by the military (they read this blog) that they are going in!

It has gotten too hostile, the chickens are trying to change the name of the island to Chikauai. It's a mess. The politicians and police don't want any more egg on their face...

Hey... we surpassed 3,000 visits!!!! Incredible.


Kauai's Roosters

As my family and I have taken on the life of chicken farmers, people now share their stories with me about raising chickens. The one I heard yesterday was from a guy I work with and his eminent new life as a chicken farmer as inspired by us. He was explaining how the Island of Kauai, has been, is being, overrun by chickens.
The Islands have been a stopping off point for hundreds and hundreds of years. So sea travelers undoubtedly packed with food on their ships, had creatures on board. Creatures for food and not indigenous to the islands. The theory most floated is; early Polynesian and french travelers brought chickens to Kauai as a food source and, as usual, chickens have taken over. I do recall the last time I was in Kauai, a whole town had become ruled by chickens, and "people" where laying eggs, it was weird. I dressed as chicken in order not to be noticed. However, my size had them tilting their heads around and clucking.... I scratched on the ground and made myself look "normal" they seemed appeased by this. The other theory is; in 1992 when hurricane Iniki hit is wiped out electricity for weeks and even months and with a strong backyard chicken contingent in Kauai already, coops and chicken fences came down and allowed the existing population free-range. Hmmm, I guess this is plausible, but what about other areas of the world where disasters have hit? Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Indonesia... you never hear about dogs taking over, or cats, or cattle, or monkeys (actually in parts of Indonesia I think this is the case)... why chickens?

As we all know, there is a "balance". You introduce a new creature to a new land, it's habits and needs can go nuts and destroy their new digs. And, it is even more obvious, the new land cannot support the new creatures habits as there are often times no natural predators.

Another case in point in Hawaii is snakes. Yeah, I hate snakes too. Someone introduced snakes to the islands, accidentally I am sure. Then someone got the idea to introduce mongoose to eat the snakes, the problem with this is; mongoose are nocturnal and snakes aren't. OOPS!

So, chickens living on the lamb in Kauai is a bad deal. The land there is so lush with every kind of foliage, weed and bug imaginable, the chickens are breeding, laying eggs, getting educated and taking jobs away from Hawaiians. I am not sure how Obama is going to handle this. I assume via a tax on the chickens and government assistance to the Hawaiians. It is really sad. Locals now have so many chickens running around that when it rains, and this can be often, they walk into stores, restaurants and the like and just sit down and nap. Accounts from people say that if your not careful, the chicken will be on your table pecking away on your cheesecake. And, the crowing is not just in the morning, it is ALL DAY LONG! Suffice it to say, Kauai has a problem. While free food is roaming the street, and from reports... good food. They are getting a bad wrap. I guess the Rooster are so aggressive the cats are scared.

I find this to be an interesting quandary. If living there, I am sure I would take a more militant stance against the chickens, if aggressive or a nuisance. On the other hand, they are good looking birds, family oriented and homebody's ergo possible good neighbors as they would control the pests, dump in my garden and maybe drop an egg once in a while. I would have to put up with the noise though.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

HOOT is taking control...

Well, it is apparent Hoot is running the roost. She is the most stable chicken in the coop. She seems to rarely get upset, doesn't seem to hen-peck the others, but rules with an elegance. She is like royalty in feathers.

I am also seeing anger!!! Oh isn't this unusual... when there is no food in the feeder, they knock it over! What the heck, we are having food riots in the coop. I can see it now, I am going to walk tomorrow morning and there will be little sandwich boards wrapped around their neck, with chicken scratch on them saying - "Next time we won't knock the feeder over!" WOW.. spooky takes me back to that awful movie The Birds... Oh man, I never loo
ked at a crow the same again and when I did see one, I was sure the posse' was flying in to make my eyes the menu. Jaws was like this... I could not get a stoooopid swimming pool without wetting myself. Therefore, I really never got in, cause it was a cycle of clean, wet, change, clean, wet, change...

Anyway, here is HOOT.... I will report on something more salient later...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Home!!!

I always do a morning check on the chickens. It's like checking on a small little adopted family, whom you've taken in and you want to make sure they have everything they need.

I walk out there this morning look in the coop and only see two of them! "Oh no.. they've run away, we did not treat them well, they've found another family!!!!, at least two liked us... or were too weak leave..."

Then out of the ceiling, one fly's down from the retractable roost door. "Huh?" I look up and there sits the other four... (three in the picture)... Ahhh they are happy in the roof! It is warmer up there.

Secondly, what happened to these birds! They are getting huge, it is like a chicken-inflater jumps in the coop every night and blows these birds up. They grow incredibly fast.

Someone left me a comment on how fast they eat. I think I am going to install a silo on the side of the coop and left it gravity feed them.. this is insane. I cannot keep up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Natural Instincts

I don't get it. How can these birds know they need to fly up and rest on a rod? Well instinct is strong and the plain and simple reason is... most predators come from the ground... snakes, skunks, bobcats, small transformers - although I think they could fly in like a chicken, roost with them and then take shape into any predator. Can you imagine this...? The chickens sitting there... "Ahhhhhh cluck, cluck...." Here comes another chicken-looking chicken... clucking robotically and WHAM! It takes the shape of a toaster!
I have really digressed here.

I visited the coop this morning and here they are... I am still working on the water attachment for the Auto-Wata and then need to come up with a way to feed them automatically. They eat like they've not had food EVER!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rodney King Laying Hen....

Can't we all get along!!!?

Sometimes I wonder why we do the things we do... That's a song...! The Temptations recorded this in 1967. Anyway, why do we need a less-aggressive hen? Is this really a problem? Here is the article...

"A team of scientists led by Agricultural Research Service biologist Heng-wei Cheng at the agency’s Livestock Behavior Research Unit in West Lafayette, Indiana, and William M. Muir of Purdue University, also at West Lafayette, has developed a line of laying hens that display far less aggression than their commercial counterparts, while maintaining industry-standard egg production. As a result of this development, the researchers were able to cut mortality losses among the birds without the usual beak-trimming.
At 58 weeks of age, the selected line of hens had significantly lower annual mortality than another group of hens – called a “control group” – and a commercial line of laying hens. When housed in communal cages, the kinder, gentler line had a 20 percent mortality rate, compared to 54 percent for the control line and 89 percent for the commercial line. Egg production was increased in the gentler birds, compared to the control line and the commercial line under the same conditions.

Most breeding programs in the past 50 years have concentrated only on traits related to production. For instance, through more than 20 years of breeding selection, egg production has increased significantly in one commercial line of laying hens, while mortality due to aggression and cannibalism among the birds with untrimmed beaks has also increased about 10-fold.
Cheng and his colleagues selected breeding birds based not just on production traits, but also took into account competitive interactions among the birds in a grogroup, or communal, setting. This selection program turns “survival of the fittest” – which emphasizes the individual – into “survival of the adequate,” which emphasizes the group.

Cheng is conducting further research to look at physiological alterations that explain the less aggressive behavior in the new line of hens. His preliminary work indicates this may be due to a decrease in dopamine levels in the birds. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that has been associated with dysfunctional behavior, as well as with a decline in the ability to cope with stress.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.

So, here is my question - why now? Why not years ago during the summer of love? We could have sent these chickens to Woodstock and they could have kicked back and dropped out of life and laid eggs for all the people there. Food would have been plentiful and the Abe and Abby Free's who attended would have been well fed and had peace-loving chickens all around them. Good grief - people... altering a chicken to be more "amenable", "kind", "non-aggressive" is ludicrous. If they are so aggressive maybe we should have been sending these chickens over the wall and have them peck the Russians to death used them Iraq or Afghanistan to root out Osama.

Dopamine!? I think these two gentleman need to direct their energy elsewhere, it is obvious one, or both got pecked as a child and made it their life long mission to alter every chicken on the planet. If they are going to work on a bird or other to alter the aggressive traits they need to look at Pitbulls, not chickens.
I crown the new breed - "Woodstock"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sorry a little over exposed, but here is Hoot and Kapi in the garden. They love hanging out in the corn. Duh!!! I am noticing a very cool by-product of the their free-ranging lifestyle, they are keeping the weeds in control and soil scraped up. Oh yeah and they do their business there too. All in all a pretty symbiotic relationship.

I will get back at blogging tomorrow morning.

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