In Brief

Miss Olivia, 3 August 2012

last updated 1.6.13

Hatched: 1st March 2012

Weight: 2.52 kg

Breed: Buff Sussex

Current Status: in lay

Total number of eggs: 155
Biggest egg: 69 g g
Smallest egg: 42 g
Average weight: 60.8 g

Olivia at 1 day oldThe Arrival

Olivia was one of three Buff Sussex chicks from Poppy’s Summer Septet. She was a right little bundle of ginger fluff, and right from hatching seemed completely comfortable around people without ever being especially sooky. But as she grew older, this all changed. At about four months old, for reasons I can’t even guess at, she decided that we monkeys were actually quite useful for perching on, and that her mother might just be on to something with the whole head-in-armpit thing. A People-Chicken, just like her mum. Awwwww!

The Name

Olivia at 3½ weeksThere were quite a few options when naming this girl. ‘Buffy’ and ‘Ginger’ being obvious options. So when she was about two months old, we got her to pick her own name. We came up with a shortlist of five that we both liked – Buffy, Dusty, Marilyn, Olivia and Amber. We wrote them on identical pieces of paper, read them out to her, and held them out in a fan for her to consider. (We had them face down so that the person holding them out couldn’t unduly influence her choice.) Sometimes this doesn’t work terribly well – in Imogen’s case, she flatly refused to have anything to do with them, and her name was instead chosen by her brothers. But Olivia was quite happy to play along, and after a moment’s contemplation, grabbed the slip with her name. Done!


Olivia’s first egg 25 July 2012Olivia laid her first egg on July 25th, 2012. There was a little bit of fussing involved, (nothing like a Dorking), with Madam making several forays into the nest before actually sitting down to lay.. Actually she seemed quite pleased with herself! She lays nice round pale brown eggs, of pretty decent size, and was in the top three for Layer of the Month six times in her pullet year. Despite looking like the very image of a bustling little mother hen, she hasn’t (yet) shown any inclination to go broody.


Hard to say where she fits into the flock structure. Towards the top, if for no other reason than because she doesn’t worry about anything. She just carries on, doing her own thing, and lets the pecks fall where they may. She’s probably below Claire, Ella, Imogen, Lily and Poppy, but is above (or equal to) most of the others. She’s a bit of a glutton (like Poppy), and loves to be cuddled (like Poppy). If you sit or squat down in the run, or even stand still for long enough, you’ll feel a peck-peck-peck against your leg, which is Olivia, asking for permission to board. (Actually more like asking to be lifted up – she’s also a bit of a lazy pudding!) If you ignore her, this can sometimes turn in to a rather more insistent peck, or even to Olivia grabbing and tugging at your trousers with her beak. (Always disconcerting if you aren’t in fact wearing trousers.) She isn’t trying to hurt you, but does occasionally forget that we monkeys have tender skin, and that sometimes the bits of our bodies that are within range (kidneys, for example, or crotches) are not necessarily places that respond well to beak-impact.

She’s also quite vocal. Not so much when laying, although she does tend to cackle a bit when she comes back in to lay after a break. But she’s one of our chooks who just loves to talk to people, and will burble away quite happily while being cuddled. And boy, does she love cuddles! She nestles down on whatever human surface is available, closes her eyes and all but purrs. She is quite cat-like in some respects.

We suspect she has unusually good low-light vision. Most chooks can hardly see at all when the light starts to dim, but Olivia is almost always the last to go inside. On more than one occasion we’ve come out on dusk to shut them in, and found Olivia hunting moths in the twilight …


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