You would think from earlier blogs I would have had enough of hens, but no, I’ve just bought more! Ever since I was inspector responsible for policing in the Kinross and Crieff areas of Tayside and in 1993 visited Muirfield Hatchery at Kinross, which was where this particularly good strain of black rock hens was developed I was sold on them. They are prolific layers (though possibly not quite as prolific as the two brown hybrids I already have), they are hardy outdoor hens completely suited to free range, and apparently they maintain good eggshell quality far longer than most hybrids bred for extensive egg-laying. The hatchery and stock has been sold on by its originator, Peter Sissons, and is now based in Renfrewshire. It has a number of approved agents including in Dundee, where I bought my four point-of-lay pullets on Monday.
I was concerned with integrating the four newcomers with my two remaining brown hens. I seem to have managed to overcome this by shutting them in the henhouse as soon as they were home and keeping them there to become acclimatised to their new home. My two brown hens had been shut out, but I caught them up and sneaked them on to a perch in the henhouse after dark, letting all six out at first light.
In the wood where they are there was some initial pecking, chasing and jostling but nothing serious. There is plenty room for the new hens to escape to safety and they settled down quickly. They pretty much keep to their two groups but I am sure will mix much better over the course of the next week or so.
I was surprised on the first day to get four eggs from the four new pullets, so it is great that they have all started to lay. I look forward now to a stress-free period with hens now that my dog and I enjoyed the cannibalistic brown hen that had to finish in the pot.