Henny is my oldest chicken, a Black Australorp, going on 7 years old. She is the top hen, dominant biddy, coop queen, et al, and rules with an iron feather. She has survived multiple hawk attacks, fox raids, illnesses, frostbite, heat waves, etc. and still going strong.
Henny is from my original flock, started back in 2004. We took a big leap and got 17 birds our very first time! Quite adventurous, if you ask me, especially when I read of so many other newbies who only get 3 or 4. But anywho, out of 17, two were cockerels. They didn’t last very long. So. From 17 to 15. I have no idea who was the dominant hen in that flock, but it wasn’t Henny. I know that much.
So, through the years, the girls got old and unproductive; others were killed by predators, and still others contracted illnesses of sorts and ceased to exist. New birds were introduced to keep eggs coming to our table (not that we eat them very often, but oh well). Eventually Henny was the only original bird. Everyone else was “new” and unschooled in the ways of genteel poultry living. It was up to her to teach them how to survive and be neat and clean at the same time.
She warns of danger with her chirring sound, and if it’s a real threat and someone could get hurt, she hollers. I always know something’s up when it’s Henny hollering. She doesn’t do so for any other reason. I can count on her to take care of her flock.
Henny never was the type of girl to go ga-ga over boys. I’ve had 4 roosters in her lifetime, and none of them could tempt her. In fact, the last boy I had annoyed her so much that every time he got “fresh” with one of her girls, she ran over and pecked him until he stopped. Needless to say, she was quite happy when he left the scene.
Australorps are one of the best brown egg layers out there, according to some folks. I tend to agree. Henny laid eggs right up to last year, 6 years old, an egg daily. It was super easy to tell which egg was hers. It always had a little extra calcium deposit on the pointy end. Every time. Without fail. They were quite large too, and a nice light brown color with strong shells.