Sunday, April 11, 2010

New flock looking good and ready for action

Our latest flock of Isa Brown pullets arrived yesterday while I was at Pakenham Farmers' Market so Anne had to help with the unloading.
We had the shed ready for them, all cleaned out and moved to a new part of the front paddock which hasn't been used for chooks for at least eight months.
They are 16 weeks old and well grown. A couple have 'combed up' already so look like they will start laying this week. We often find that at this time of year, pullets will begin to lay at this age but later in the year they may not start until they are 18 or even 20 weeks old.
It means that we have to be careful with planning arrivals to ensure continuity of egg supplies - especially around peak holiday periods.
As I've said before Christmas/New Year is a particular nightmare because of the huge influx of holidaymakers on Phillip Island. And it's not just the island. Every holiday home and caravan park in the area is full to busting - San Remo, Coronet Bay, Corinella, Grantville etc.
Demand from shops and restaurants just goes though the roof and if we have a run of really hot weather around Christmas our production can drop signficantly.
That's when being a member of the Free Range Farmers Association really pays off - because if we have to, we can usually find another member farm with eggs to spare at that time of year (because most of their customers are down here). The rules of the Association mean that we can only buy-in eggs fom another accredited farm so our customers are sure the eggs really are 'free range'. 
This is the shed the new pullets are in. We hadn't let them out at this stage because the wind has been blowing hard all morning and the poor little chooks might get blown away. Their protection system is well in place - Berkley on the left and Ducati on the right. Not much can get past them.
The triangular sail on the shed is only used in summer for extra shade-I just haven't got around to taking it off yet

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