A few days ago, I was seeing to the chooks at the allotment. Three of the Littlees had managed to escape from their run. I found them sitting, unperturbed, against the netting, with some of their brothers and sisters on the other side.
Henry and his Harem either hadn't noticed them, or had decided to ignore them. Henry was cock a doodling a bit more than usual, so I suspect the latter.
I couldn't see how they had got out.
Meanwhile, I opened the gate and shepherded the lost sheep back into their own pens, where they ran off to tell everyone of their adventures on the Outside.
I did the usual chores, which this particular day took a while as I had to clean and scrub the drinkers. They get a bit algae-fied, and need a bit of a scrub once a week. All feeders were topped up, everyone had corn, and I did a headcount of bothe pens.
I was missing a itte Harem hen. Siouxsie Sioux, sister to Norman and NotNorman, was nowhere to be seen. I checked around and under things. She had definitely been there earlier, as I had seen the three of them together.
I went out of the allotment. shutting the door. I walked the perimeter fence, in case she had wandered out and around. Nothing. I walked again, checking the outward side. I checked the next door field. I came back to the allotment, closing the door behind me. Ichecked Henry's shed. I checked the storage shed.
And then there she was.
Bemsed, I locked up.
On my walk back tot he car, I texted OC (other chap) to let him know that we'd had some escapees and that I hadn't found the escape place, and to let him know about Siousxie disappearing. I suggested maybe she'd hidden under one of the sheds.... and I wondered if she was laying under there.
Henry has 12 girls in his harem at the moment. At any one time. one, tow, three of them are broody - the record has been six broody at once. 3 hirls (Norman, NotNorman and Siouxsie) are 5 years old and so their irregular laying is to be expected. At any one time, one of them us likely to be broody though.
I mention this because we've had a drop in egg numbers. Thinking about Siouxsie made me wonder if some of them are laying under the shed... although that doesn't make much sense because we have 11 nest boxes spread over 3 different houses. Even when 6 hens were broody, that still left more than enough nestboxes for everyone else.
We are wondering whether the eggs are getting stolen, with Magpies or rats being the most likely suspects.
The next time I went down to the allotment I put extra fencing up along the Littlee line, and I took the memory card from the camera so I could bring it home and empty it, ready to set it up again.