When it became painfully obvious and no longer deniable that the black langshan was a cockerel, I got ahold of the people we bought our chickens from and made arrangements to swap him out. Knowing that adding a single new bird to a flock is a quick way to end up with a bird in a dog crate in your spare bedroom recovering from injuries, and knowing that we ultimately wanted more birds, we decided to pick up 2 additional birds from them and go from there. In our town, we are allowed 8 birds, and while I think that my enclosure is large enough to support 8 birds, I think that things are always a little better with lower population density. Also, seeing as to how this is our first winter with the chickens, I’d much rather not have too many birds to handle should something awful happen. This gives us a little room to hatch out some eggs should I end up with a broody bird this upcoming spring, giving us a few younger girls to give more sustained egg production. I haven’t decided yet. Either way, I brought our male langshan back to the people’s house, and left with 3 new birds. Below, I will overshare photos, and tell you how they’re getting along so far. It’s been a little trying, to say the least.
First – The 2 “old” chickens have gone all-out mean girls. When it was just the 3 birds, things were cool. They were quiet, laid back, and didn’t bicker. It was clear that the easter egger was at the top of the pecking order, she got first pick of goodies and occasionally pecked at the red sexlink when she got uppity. Now that they have new flockmates to push around, they’ve become megabitches. They’re awful. The first day with the new birds, they chased them into the roosting loft and then strutted around the run squawking, as though to remind the new birds that they’re in charge. There’s been a little pecking, but for the most part, as long as the 3 new birds stay out of the way of the 2 original ones, they’re surviving. They’ve finally gotten names. The easter egger is Cruella, and the sex link is Red. Original, I know. Cruella has continued providing us with beautiful light green-grey eggs 5 days a week. Red has begun laying. It started off with a small, strangely shaped soft shelled egg in the poop hammock, then a few days later, a shell-less egg that was also laid while she was roosting. A few days later again and we got a fully formed albeit slightly thinly shelled egg once again on the roost. I’m gonna have to get a golf ball or something to leave in the nest so she realizes that it’s a place she can go lay! Her eggs are a standard light brown.
This is the first new bird, and seems to be at the top of the pecking order of the newcomers. The is a Black Copper Marans. The breed lays dark chocolate brown eggs. They really are striking eggs for an otherwise somewhat unremarkable bird. She seems kind of mean, but she was also one of the rooster’s favorite birds. This has given her a big bald patch on her back (Cruella has a similar bald patch). She’s a little haggard, but hopefully her feathers fill in, and after everyone figures out their dynamic, she’ll have a slightly less hectic life.
This is the replacement black langshan. I suspect that her genetics aren’t quite “up to snuff” due to the white streaks in her feathers, and the fact that her eyes are so light (the other black langshan had very dark eyes that peered into your soul) but boy is this bird enormous! It also looks a little like a rooster to me, but the chicken guy claimed up and down that she lays eggs. And has promised that if she starts crowing that I can once again return her. I’ve tried to show how crazy long her legs are in the photos, and then there’s a comparison shot of her and the BCM, just to give you some idea of the scale. It’s wild. She also isn’t picky about where she sleeps (I caught her in the poop hammock the first night) and has the most piercing honking screech when she is alarmed. I learned this while trying to minimize the tussling that the girls were having while trying to figure out sleeping arrangements. She kept getting picked on and then kept moving to places where Red was in range of her. When I picked her up, she screamed bloody murder! It was pretty alarming. That bird has some serious lungs. Despite being a total wiener(nearly bottom of the pecking order despite so far being 2x the size of the other birds, she is still my favorite of the chickens, once again. Such a weirdo. Also, incredible iridescent black feathers. So striking. Her eggs should be a medium brown color with a slight reddish plum colored bloom. Theoretically. There seems to be a lot of hearsay on the internet about what color exactly their eggs are.
Last but not least is this Speckled Sussex pullet. She is not quite old enough to lay, as can be seen by her diminutive size, and the fact that her comb is still pinkish and hasn’t darkened to the reddish tone that generally accompanies laying age. Speckled Sussexes lay light brown eggs with dark brown speckles on them. They are a reddish brown color with white spots on the end of their feathers that are ringed by an incredible iridescent black. Each time they molt, they get more and more white spots, so it’s fairly easy to tell the old ones from the young ones. In addition to the neat eggs, they tend to be very docile and are supposed to be good winter egg layers. Of course, that is dependent on her actually beginning to lay before the days get shorter, but we shall see. She is 100% at the bottom of the pecking order, and I think it will be interesting to see what happens as she matures and gets bigger.