Monday, May 28, 2012

How to stop a python eating your bantams

A large-ish python lives near our chook pens ('henhouse', for the non-Australian readers). For many years he did not eat any poultry, verified by the Battistuzzi family who kept hens here for many years and watched the python grow up. But now, he's even larger, and I have been breeding Barbu d'uccle bantams which are a much smaller breed of poultry.

It's just too tempting for him. Bigger mouth and tum + smaller birds = easy dinner pickings for the python. (Mieke pulls a sad face ... ). I don't begrudge the occasional egg, but I've lost four bantam hens and two roosters in a short space of time. But what to do? I know if we move the python, he will come back. If we move him so far away that he can't, then (a) he will spend his whole life miserably trying to return to his territory; and (b) another snake will move in (maybe a venomous one, so no thanks). And really, he has as much right to live on this land as we do. After all, he's lived here all his life, many years more than we have.

So I decided to cross breed my bantams with bigger birds in the hope that I can stay one step ahead of him, while retaining the genetic diversity of a rare breeds flock. From Cromwell Farm, a local farm specialising in rare breeds I purchased two lovely Plymouth Rock hens and two very affectionate Orpington pullets.

This Orpington pullet is very curious and affectionate

Orpington pullet number two, still a baby really (says cheep-cheep still).

A young Plymouth Rock hen

This lady is a fair bit older (maybe two years?) and shows the full plumage of the Plymouth Rock.
Yarrow bought me this pullet as a present from the markets. No idea of the breed, but nice delicate colouring. The young Barbu bantam rooster likes her as well!

So here's hoping that the flock stays well and happy ready for the laying season!

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