As you may recall, our White Leghorns
have been a new and somewhat ornery addition to our flock this
year. In fact, if they weren’t such prime winter layers, I would
have put them in the pot by now. But they keep laying…and I keep
working around their issues.
The hen pictured above is
particularly problematic. She kept breaking into the barn to lay
her eggs, and after I blocked off her access point, she broke into the
garden to lay near
the barn. I’d clipped her wings and couldn’t figure out how she
was getting in until one day I decided to just weed all morning in the
garden and watch. It turns out she’d take a running leap at the
unlatched gate and push her way through! I guess I could have
found a way to latch the gate, but this hen was just too intent on her
nest spot, breaking in dozens of times in one day even after I chased
her out repeatedly. So I put her in solitary confinement in our
spare chicken coop and pasture.
For about a week, the
lone hen paced the fence line, itching to get back to her nest, but then
it snowed and she decided the coop was okay after all. I thought
maybe she was going to turn into a good chicken, and I started
considering pulling another hen out of the flock to keep her
company…when the hawk attacked.
Yep, it turns out there’s
another problem with White Leghorns that I hadn’t factored into my
calculations yet. In the winter, their white feathers show up
against the dark ground so well that they’re easy pickings for
predators. Our dog chased the hawk away, but the lone hen was
injured in the process and has been sitting droopily on her perch in the
coop ever since.
I’ll keep nursing our Leghorns along until our 2014 pullets start
laying, and I’ll probably hatch out a few of their eggs to see how their
genetics mix with our Australorps, but no way am I getting any more
purebred Leghorns. They’re laying machines, but in every other way, this breed doesn’t match our farm.