April 20, 2010

Sparky's Adventures in Agriculture - Chickens

Last year we started raising chickens. I thought it would be great to have fresh eggs and we go though enough of them it seemed like a good investment. We ordered six pullet (female) chickens from the local country store. While we were at it we also ordered two turkeys (a little can be read about them here. The eight birds arrived in three sets spread out over about 6 weeks. First arrived the turkeys; a Giant White (Box) and a Black Spanish (House). The first set of chicks included a Black Cochin (Blueberry), Speckled Sussex (Strawberry), White Brahma (Nut I), and Silver Lace Wyandotte (Meg). The final set included an Ameraucana/Americana (Rainbow) and a Red Sexlink (Cloud). The original post about the chickens can be found here. I wanted to write a little more detail about the chickens for two reasons. 1)I have people ask what types of chickens I have and I can't always remember. 2) If I write it here, I can find it again.

So, we have Blueberry, Meg, Cloud, and Strawberry that are all excellent egg layers. We get an average of three eggs per day. Rainbow on the other hand has laid two eggs total. One last fall and then one deformed one this spring. Rainbow has a retarded foot and PE thinks that might be a contributing factor and that she may just be unhealthy overall. From what I have heard you want to cycle your chickens because most only live five years and the older they get the slower the egg production. For this reason, we have purchased more chickens. That and we could use more eggs. Yes, we get about 21 eggs per week and you would think we would have them coming out our ears but amazingly enough at this very moment there are only three sitting in my refrigerator.

We got the chickens in two sets this year. The first set included, all pullets, a Buff Orphington (Maizie), Golden Sexlink (Daisy), Barred Rock (TreeTree), and California White (Sara). The second set included, straightrun, a Silkie Bantam (GooGoo) and a Frizzle Bantam (Spike). While we were there we picked up another pullet Ameraucana/Americana (Luce). I guess we shouldn't have done that because Luce died. Now PE has it out for Ameraucana/Americanas and will not be purchasing any more. Oh well. The Frizzle is super cute right now. It is all fluffy, like chicks are, and the ends of his feathers curl up. So. Cute. I tried to take a picture for you; however, the little buggers wanted to hide in the corner and there is chicken wire over the cage so it was pretty much a close up of chicken wire with some chicks in the distance. I really didn't expect much else considering I was using my cell phone. I just wanted you to know I was thinking of you.

Okay, I am sure you are wondering about the names. You can attribute most of those to Bob. He has a tendency to name things after items in his vacinity. You see we were in the House and the turkeys were in a Box so there you have the turkey names. It was raining and there were Clouds and a Rainbow on the way to get chicks so there you have those names. GooGoo is slightly my fault as I was listing phrases out of a Dr. Suess book. I am not so sure about TreeTree but Sara did come from a movie character. I will say that Moo named Strawberry, Blueberry, Maizie, Daisy, and Luce.

PE also made a new chicken coop for the bigger chickens. They are moving on up to bigger and better things. He was quite creative with the coop. He made a sort of feeding trough along the walls of the coop so we don't have to keep a feeder in with the chickens. He gave them a couple perches and a window (fancy schmancy). The coop is attached to an old dog run so they have room to go out and be in the sun, eat bugs, and take dust baths. The entrance and the window can be covered if we ever need to keep them in there or keep the elements out. This weekend we purchased some outdoor oops paint from Home Depot. It is a red barn type color and for $5 there really isn't any room for complaining.

While the egg production is the best thing about the chickens a close second is they help me not feel bad when food gets past the prime in the refrigerator. There are some things they like more than others but overall those chickens will eat anything. I have to admit it makes me giggle just a little that they have eaten chicken, pork, and beef (especially the chicken--we made cannibals out our chickens).

On that note I think I will wrap up this post. Have a great day!

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