Friday, May 6, 2011
This is what I picked out and what I knew about each of them.
2) Rhode Island Reds (consistent layers of brown eggs, hearty birds)
2) Black Star (lays brown eggs)
2) Plymouth Rock (black and white speckled chicken)
2) Araucana (lays greenish sometimes speckled eggs, called the Easter egg chicken)
4) Buff Orpingtons (pretty fat fluffy chickens)
Being a first time chicken owner, I pick out my chickens for their eye appeal and variety more than for their egg production, temperament and cold heartiness. (we live in a cold climate)
One of the Buff Orpingtons died the second day and one of the Plymouth Rocks died last fall. We have no idea what was wrong with her but the other hens picked on her a lot.
It's been fun having and watching the hens. We love the fresh eggs and I have had enough to share with family and a few friends once in awhile. I did not know that the hens would only lay for a few years though and out of 11 hens the most eggs I have ever collected in one day was 8. The first year of laying they were more prolific than now their second year in fact we are only getting 3 or 4 eggs a day now.
Of the individual breeds the Black Rocks and the Rhode Island Reds have been the best layers. They are the ones that are still laying and the Buffs but not as much. The Araucanas haven't layed since last fall. I'm thinking its the pot for them. (not sure if I can do this)
The buff Orpingtons tend to go broody, this is a good thing if you have a rooster and want to hatch eggs. One of our Buff Orpingtons was very persistent with her broodiness last year but we didn't have a rooster so I gathered up 5 eggs from a friend that has several roosters. I put them under the broody hen however when she got down to eat and drink one time the other hens attacked and broke three of the eggs. She hatched two and was a great mother! She was now content and hasn't gone broody since. The chicks she hatched were both hens, so I though, until on day my hubby came in and told me one of my new hens was crowing on top of the manure pile.... :o So we now have a rooster :o) about that same time he started to change physically and we could tell by the way he carried himself that he was in fact a rooster.
This year we decided we needed to get new hens and we selected them mostly for their consistent egg production and their cold heartiness. The tips of the roosters cone (Rodger) froze, turned black and fell off. He now has a smooth cone instead of a spiky one.
This past winter we received a catalog in the mail from Mc Murray Hatchery. What a great catalog! They have standard breeds and rare breeds. Bantams (small) standard sized and even some called giants. Some have feathers on their feet and some have feathers on top of their heads . What was nice about this catalog was that it includes details about each breed. Details like egg production and color, cold heartiness, temperament and so on, it also includes color pictures of each.
We were now able to make our selections based on the trates that are important to us. Most of the ones we selected were chosen for their egg production and cold heartiness and their tenancy to keep laying in the winter months however the girls wanted the ones with the feathers on top of their heads (funky chickens) and the men around here seem to fancy the roosters so we order a couple of those too. Will see how that goes :o)
This is what we ordered, the smallest order they will take is 25 and they didn't have any Rhode Island Red available at this time. This was more chickens than we planned on getting so we will just have to see how this goes too.
1) White Rock rooster
6) White Rock hens
1 Golden Polish hen
We are going to have lots and lots of eggs, even in the winter. I will be able to sell eggs to my neighbors and pay for the chicken feed.
I am going to set this up as a business for Portia. This will teach her to keep records and handle money. It will also give her the opportunity to work on her people skills.