Let me tell you about Ginger. She's a beautiful Buff Orpington who will be three years old this fall. She's your classic hatchery bird where they breed for quantity and not necessarily quality. So she's a on the small size as BO's go and more blond that golden in color. She wouldn't win any show awards but I love her and she's a five star in my eyes.
She had a rough up bringing. She was one of the original four I purchased and I knew buying a mixed batch of birds might set her up to be bullied as BO's can be very sweet and docile. And right from the beginning, she was destined to be the bottom of the pecking order. She was the loudest and the most needy of the batch. I always said she should have been raised by a mama hen and not in a brooder. She hated being separated from the other chicks.
|Ginger is the blonde one jammed in between Pumpkin on the left and Coco on the right.|
|And the other hens frequently used Ginger as a pillow. And she let them because she so desperately craved that that security chicks feel when tucked under a bigger bird.|
I thought I was doing a good job keeping things in check. And I thought if they had lots of food and water and plenty of real estate, they'd have nothing to bully over. But it's called a pecking order for a reason and while lack of food, water and confinement can cause bullying, sometimes birds are just bullies. So when the hens turned one, I re homed Pumpkin. And then there were two.
But the damage was done. Ginger was this timid little hen. She started to molt and molted hard. I really thought I was going to lose her she was so miserable. So I hand fed her scrambled eggs and pretty much anything I could get her to eat.
All of that has shaped who she is today. She's a grumpy, moody little hen that won't take anything from any of the other hens. And if she lived just about anywhere else, she would have been "Sunday Dinner" a long time ago as she starts to molt in June and stops laying eggs. She won't finish molting till November and won't start laying again till March. Or so she's done in the past.
Most people who are in the business of raising chickens for eggs can't afford to house and feed a chicken who's only going to lay three months out of the year. Doesn't matter to me as I get plenty of eggs and she's part of the family. So she's got a good gig going on here.
Today I came home and collected eggs and found this tiny brown egg. It's BARELY in the medium category and darker than Honey Bear's brown eggs.
|I think Ginger may have laid this egg today. That's Coco's egg on the counter with the dark end cap.|
|And this is Coco's egg. Coco is a Jersey Giant and she's a BIG hen who lays a BIG egg. And her signature is that dark end on the egg. Not sure why, but she always does it. Coco is also molting so her eggs are a bit smaller than normal too.|
Ginger has never gone broody. Unusual for a BO. Honey Bear goes broody every four weeks. Which is sooooo frustrating so I suppose I should count my blessings. But I told Ginger that if she ever went broody, that I'd get her some babies to raise. I'll bet she'd be an awesome mama.