The laying hens have had a life of ease since we butchered the meat birds. We had a divider up in the coop, but by about 6 weeks the layers could easily jump/fly over it. They stopped doing so as the meat birds grew to about 4 times layer size and easily got annoyed with the smaller, faster, altogether more chirpy layers. Now that the meat birds are gone, the layers have the whole coop to themselves, plenty of straw to scratch, and a new old set of laying boxes that we picked up at a farm sale.
With only ten layers, we actually probably only need about a third of the boxes we have, but we couldn’t have built or bought new boxes for the $12 we spent on this set. The hens are still spending most days out in their tractor, but when it’s especially windy or rainy we leave them in the coop. They’re getting lots of kitchen scraps now (here, they’re investigating some applesauce trimmings), plus whatever they forage while outside. They get most excited about corn cobs, zucchini, and especially watermelon. It seems like their growth has slowed since we’ve moved them outside and they eat less feed, but it’s hard to tell. They still have roughly 5-8 weeks until they start to lay, and since we’re not in it for profit, we’re fine with letting them be outside filling up on weeds and bugs.
We’re still not entirely sure what breeds we ended up with. The black-and-white one is a Speckled Hamburg, one of our prettier birds, and hands-down the stupidest of the lot. The whites are probably some sort of leghorn mix and are fairly spastic. The two black ones (maybe Black Australorps or Black Giants) are the first to peck at whatever we throw in the coop, the little red ones are Rhode Islands, New Hampshires, or Red Stars, and I’m leaning toward the rooster being a Golden Laced Wyandotte. He was the surprise free chick that came with our order, and we didn’t realize that they’d throw a rooster in with a laying mix. He’s started chasing the hens a little, but the white ones especially are happy to dish it right back at him. We’ll have to watch how things develop to see if we’ll be able to keep him. The way he’s feathering out it looks like he’s going to be pretty handsome, so we’re hoping we can make it work.