Sadly, one of our ex-batt chickens died last week. In the past she'd had a few episodes of feeling ill, standing around and looking miserable for a day or two before recovering and getting back to her usual self. But this time was different. I don't know what it was exactly that killed her but she had escaped from our front garden while free ranging and I found her a little way down the road surrounded by poisonous laurel berries. I can't be sure if she'd eaten some or if she had some other underlying condition.
But the upshot is that I'm left with 4 chickens spread across 2 coops so my plan is to buy one bigger plastic coop, to combat the horrible red mite problem in the ex-batts coop, and merge both flocks into one. I'm rather apprehensive as Crispy, the thoroughbred chicken, is something of a bruiser and jealously guards her position as alpha hen. The ex-ex-batt was the alpha in the other coop and if ever they saw each other there would be blood. Literally.
The remaining ex-batts seem a bit lost without their leader, egg production has slowed dramatically although this could be co-incidence with the colder weather and shorter days but I think they'll be happier once they're under the thumb again. And Crispy is already twirling her moustache in anticipation.