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Author Topic: Chicken ?  (Read 11846 times)
kathyp
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« on: July 27, 2012, 10:30:23 PM »

finally got the coop done and yard fenced.  i found a guy with chickens and he's not to far from me.  he has several different breeds.  i don't care what color the eggs are.  i want something that is fairly disease resistant, takes the cold/wet, and is a consistent layer.  also...do you find some breeds more apt to set if given the chance?

what are your favorites and why?

oh yeah....was planning on getting a rooster.  i remember how nasty some of ours had gotten.  also remember my mom taking the .22 to one of them.... evil  any breeds that are less apt to get nasty?
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 10:39:27 PM »

My leghorns are the sweetest chickens I have ever had. 
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2012, 03:48:16 PM »

Are you looking for eggs or eggs and meat?  Leghorns are great layers, but they are not meant for meat production.  They put everything they can into eggs. As for roosters any breed can be nasty. If you run across one just send it to freezer camp or auction.  I run barred rocks myself. They are doing great for me.
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2012, 04:36:10 PM »

For eggs I like minorcas, less flighty than leghorns, meat birds cornish crosses, best all purpose orpingtons or wyandottes. The latter two are particularly calm birds including the roosters with orpingtons being almost to calm, can be bullied by other breeds. Avoid rhode island reds, they are the best of the brown egg layers but they are vicious little bleep that will kill each other and all the roosters have an attitude. The leghorns roosters live to fight as well. If you want a red bird the new hampshires have all the good traits of the rir without the nastiness. The rocks are another dual purpose but they lean more to the meat side than the egg side.
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2012, 05:11:24 PM »

eggs.  not to worry about the rooster.  it wouldn't be the first to end up in the crock pot.  i got the hens.  don't have the rooster yet. 

i remember when i was a kid our rooster ticked my  mom off so much she went out with the .22 and put it to rest.   grin
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
JP
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 05:34:36 PM »

Kathy, why do you want a rooster?

I really like orpingtons and am very fond of wyandottes but my favorite is the black sex link. My sex link Beatty lays a huge egg and she is such a sweet and smart bird.


...JP
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2012, 06:05:25 PM »

JP reminded me of one other,  the australorp. A great breed and layer, sad fact is that they fail to live up to the legend of their laying ability. Great layers but no better than their parent breed with a smaller carcass size.

Others I've fooled with.

Cochins, all colors and sizes, are my father's favorite. Lovely birds, colorful balls of feathers. Almost all are decent layers and the large size dress out well. Temperament is usually very calm to their owners but some roosters will scrap with other roosters.
Favorelles, a waste of feathers all the way around unless you like five toed birds.
Hamburgs are really nice but flighty and can only lay a small egg. In spite if that they are one of my favorites.
Brahmas are decent layers and sharp looking to boot.
Cornish are novelties only or making your own meat crosses. Poor layers of small eggs. Other than that they are a good bird.
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2012, 06:12:33 PM »

Interesting.  I’ve been thinking of getting some chickens too.  More or less just enough for family and friends.  How big of a pen do you need?
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AllenF
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2012, 07:18:06 PM »

I have not closed the door to the chicken pen since March of last year.   Just let them run around.  They still go on roost in the pen every night.  My pen big enough to park a car in, if the door was only big enough.  They also still lay in there, same box as always.  Very nice hens.   
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2012, 09:12:07 PM »

Wiki says these Leghorns are the number one breed for large scale commercial egg production.  Maybe a dumb question, but why so many different sized eggs at the grocery store?  Large, extra large, jumbo, etc?  Are these all from Leghorns or are they from different breeds?
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AllenF
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2012, 09:41:13 PM »

My leghorns throw about the same size eggs.   When I had RIRs, they laid eggs of all sizes.   From jumbos to little bitties.   I think the different sizes all still come from the same breeds.   There are just so many eggs laid, they get separated into sizes easily. 
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2012, 09:43:44 PM »

Generally, yes, all those pretty white eggs at the store come from strains of the white leghorn bred for egg production, usually the pearl or similar strain. The size differences are because in spite of years of intensive breeding the laying hen clone has yet to be developed and some lay larger eggs than others and even that may vary from day to day or with age. Generally, a pullet starts laying very small pullet eggs before developing her full potential. Once she goes into full production the egg size will stay pretty much the same size over the season and then may drop off slightly in size as she plays out for the season. If your store carries brown eggs then those will more than likely come from some sort of production strain of Rhode Island Red or sex linked red like the Comets or Red Stars, possibly even a black sex link usually off of the Australorp.
The leghorns greatest attribute is it's feed to egg conversion ratio. It develops very fast (most breeds will not lay their first egg until 4-5 months of age) often beginning laying earlier than all others. It then proceeds to lay an average of better than 300 eggs per year while consuming less feed per egg weight than any other breed. Most commercial laying hens are culled (where do you think chicken soup chickens come from) after the first season as the second and consecutive seasons are never as good as the first plus production strains "wear out" faster. Most of your brown egg layers can lay well into their second season but there the producer has to weigh the feed costs vs culling.
At one time other mediteranean breeds (the breeds that lay white eggs) were used commercially with the minorcas being the main competition but most of these other breeds are larger birds and require more feed so they fell by the wayside. I like the minorcas because they are the most consistant layers of jumbo sized eggs.
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kathyp
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2012, 10:59:41 PM »

JP, the rooster is because we are going into survival mode here.  if one of the hens will set, that would be great.  if not, i'll go the incubator route...which is kind of a PIA, but....

the rooster was delivered tonight. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2012, 11:26:06 PM »

Kathy, if you want a broody hen look to either a a heritage breed or some of your bantams or silkies. Avoid any of your production strains. Broody hens quit laying while brooding so the maternal instinct has been bred out of production lines. Silkies make great brood hens but are otherwise the ugliest bird on the planet.
Just me but I would have both a brood hen and an incubator. That way you can hatch what you want to when you want. Hens don't go bloody on our schedule.
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« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2012, 11:29:25 PM »

i just hate the incubator thing.  i have done it before and not my most fun thing  grin
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2012, 11:43:37 PM »

I agree but if you are interested keeping a large flock of layers it's nice to be able to hatch off a few dozen on your schedule.
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JP
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2012, 08:23:49 AM »

So Kathy, you're looking into egg and meat production?


...JP
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2012, 09:43:44 AM »

Relative to bees, how much of a learning curve is there to keep chickens?  Are chickens a pretty simple endeavor?  Do they require constant attention?
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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2012, 10:07:28 AM »

Compared to bees chickens require daily attention and constant protection. Unlike bees they do not gather there own food and water unless they're free ranged on good pasture and even they usually need supplemental grain. Protection in the form of a secure coop is a must as everything from snakes to owls like chicken which is why I refuse to recommend free ranging chickens. Free range in regards to poultry is another way of saying predator buffet.
Now with a good quality coop and barring pest and pestilence a daily visit to feed and water plus collect the eggs when they occur chickens can be very low maintenance. The main issue is to get the chick's off to a good start. They get chilled easily and need to be kept in a brooder for warmth until fully feathered and fed a proper diet. Once feathered they can venture out and pretty much fend for themselves as long as you keep food and water available. Then it's just monitoring for health issues like impacted eggs in young pullets, mites, bumblefoot, picking (they can kill each other in their pecking order squabbles) or nasty traits like egg eating.
Anyone who has the wherewithal to take up beekeeping should do just fine with chickens.
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kathyp
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2012, 11:10:50 AM »

jp...eggs.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #20 on: August 01, 2012, 03:11:50 PM »

Don't do it!!  Those chickens are just a gateway drug.  You some of them running around the yard, you get used having delicious eggs and fryers and everything's fine...you think you've got it under control.

Then WHAM!...next thing you know you're down at the sale barn bidding on skinny-hipped bred heifers or that lonesome looking steer who probably just needs a shot of penicillin, some probiotic, and a little hug to prop him and turn him into a blue ribbon champ. 

Six months later your life will be in a complete downward spiral as you start putting up a little hay and eyeballing just a small trailer to move cows around in.  Then you reach rock-bottom when your friends see you out cutting grass from ditch for feed and you find out the rendering company charges $75 to haul that steer out of the pasture when hugs weren't enough.

Still....they're better than starting off with horses... grin
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kathyp
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« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2012, 04:24:33 PM »

got those too  grin
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2012, 04:46:37 PM »

 grin    I thought bees were the gateway.
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« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2012, 05:37:37 PM »

grin    I thought bees were the gateway.

Bees are crack.
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« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2012, 08:15:31 PM »

Crack is whack.         

Chicken is what was for supper tonight.    grin
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JP
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« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2012, 12:12:13 AM »

jp...eggs.

So then I have to ask, why do you want a rooster?


...JP
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« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2012, 10:17:41 AM »

biology  evil  as far as i know, you can't hatch out unfertilized eggs.  if hens do their best laying in the first couple of years, it seems to me that it makes sense to have a new batch coming along every couple of years.  + my youngest son wants to do chickens next year, so i could have a batch for him. 

i have no objection to eating the chickens, so an excess can be eaten, or the old ones put into the stew pot.

survival mode......
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2012, 02:28:31 PM »

Get an incubator to hatch them eggs.   My leghorns don't sit.   Not broody at all.  And it is great for the kids. 
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« Reply #28 on: August 02, 2012, 02:53:27 PM »

What temp and how long does it take a chick to hatch?
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« Reply #29 on: August 02, 2012, 03:07:58 PM »

21 days at 99 degrees.  And you have to turn the eggs also.   Easy to raise them.
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« Reply #30 on: August 02, 2012, 03:31:54 PM »

Kathy, my chickens are all three years old and laying up a storm. I would wait on the rooster if I were you.


...JP
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« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2012, 09:33:48 PM »

I've kept a few chickens over the years so I'll chime in here.  I have kept Wyandottes, leghorns, seabrights, Araucanas, Rhode Island reds, etc.

By far the most productive bird I have kept is the white leg horn - smaller bird and easy on the food cost and consistently lays a nice large white egg - but kind of a boring hen from a color standpoint.
Araucanas lay a greenish blue to blue eggs which is a fun novelty, but they are less consistent as an egg layer.  The roosters are very attractive color wise.
The wyndottes have been the most broody from my experience.
The brown leghorns, rhode island reds and wyandottes all are brown layers and are fairly consistent.

As for rooster disposition, I haven't kept enough to see a good or bad pattern by breed.  I've had mostly good disposition bleep and just a few ornery ones.  Although my daughters might disagree.  If you are on the smaller side the roosters seem to size you up and think they can take you on, until you show them who is boss.

BlueBird , you asked about the attention they need...for our set up it is pretty much daily feeding and checking on water, though I think some people are set up with feeders that might need refilling every few days.  On average I spend about five minutes a day feeding, collecting eggs and topping off water if needed.

My biggest problem is coyotes and skunks.  I have lost too many birds to these thieves.  I plunked a skunk earlier this summer that killed six hens - aarrrggghhh! evil

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« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2012, 09:53:37 PM »

JP the chicken guy brought me a rooster.  got out of his truck and handed the bird to me.  so far, he's really nice....but i know that can change.   Wink
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2012, 10:12:46 PM »

Kathy, if you looking to go survival mode I would pick one of the dual purpose breeds and establish a closed flock. There is a good article on the dominique site about closed flock breeding.
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« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2012, 11:37:09 PM »

I like my roosters, I have at least 5 big ones and 10 bantam roos they watch out for the flock and keep everyone in check, I've never had a mean one guess I am just lucky. Black australops go broody I have a couple of those that try and hatch eggs.

I am addicted to incubating eggs so I prefer the incubator method  grin I have 3 going right now. hatched chickens, ducks, quail and guineas a couple of weeks ago and more are do to hatch this week.
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« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2012, 01:03:55 AM »

Get an incubator to hatch them eggs.   My leghorns don't sit.   Not broody at all.  And it is great for the kids. 


Broodiness has been bred out of white leghorns, like since way back there.
But a good "Yard Chicken" biddy could likely pip a ping pong ball.  Regardless of breed, some hens are not good biddies or sitters.  If you can't keep one hen separated from another (in your mind) its better to use an incubator when first starting out with chickens.  There is not enough space here to list all the things that can go wrong with brood hens and a setting of eggs, but anything can happen and likely will.

Getting a good hatch is easier for a beginner if he sets the eggs in an incubator verses under a hen.  A 90% or greater hatch is quite possible every time.  Yea I too have had 100% hatches using setting hens, but I have also had total failures from no fault of my own. By using an incubator it is possible to set fresher eggs than when using a biddy, and the fresher the egg, the more likely you will pip a chick out of it, and the more likely the chicks will all pip at the same time.

http://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/guide_to_better_hatching.html
http://www.randallburkey.com/The-Backyard-Flock/productinfo/36020/
These two sources of information will get you started on the right track.
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« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2012, 03:32:47 AM »

An unanswered question was room required.   More room makes it easier but the eight by ten foot chicken coop and ten by ten outside run was the home to up to fifty chickens on the farm I grew up on.  It required weekly swamping or it was quite a mess.  Well chicken coops are always a mess actually.  There were usually a few loose.  My mother would find a scissor bill or one with bad feet in every batch of fryer chicks she got and decide after nursing them to adulthood that they were pets.  The meat breeds in batches of fity lived in the brooder house which was tiny with a small run until dad would start feeling breasts to see who was ready to eat.  Then they were eaten as they reached frying size.  There were eight of us and they didn't stand a chance.  Unless mother befriended them.  One of those of the meat breed we purchased as Silver Broads got to 22 pound before meeting his end after attacking a three year old neice.  The aforementioned .22 solved his antisocial display and after several hours of boiling , he would still bend a fork.   My mother was given a clutch of eggs to raise by a pair of bachelor farmers in the area.  When she found out that they had acquired them from a breeder of fighting chickens and had plans , she refused to give them back!  Beautiful roosters but they were really no more aggressive and feisty than other roosters.   
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kathyp
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« Reply #37 on: October 17, 2012, 02:32:37 PM »

3 of the 5 hens started laying before the days got short.  i am still getting 1-3 eggs a day.  the rooster has taken a couple of runs at me, but a squirt bottle of water with a little ammonia in it seems to have given him pause for the moment.  his name is soup, and there he'll go if he turns nasty.

so far, so good.  chicken keeping seems not to have changed much since i had them 15 or 20  years ago!
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2012, 11:56:46 AM »

I'm down to three hens. I had to put one of my Buff Orps down about a month ago. She looked like someone shot her in the head with a bb gun & was dwindling down to nothing. Poor girl.

I am down to a silver laced wyandotte, an easter egger and a black sex link. Vera, Jezebel and Betty, in that order. The first two are about three now I wanna say. Not sure how old betty is. They are all still putting out. One small brown egg, one turquoise egg and one very large brown egg from Betty.

My next hens will be large egg layers, either Rhode island productions or black sex links. Betty has been a great hen and follows me around as I kick the dirt over for her to gather her delectable morsels.

My wife is happy we only have three left as she says they are messy birds but sure loves those eggs come Sunday morning served with applewood bacon and toast with fresh honey. Don't believe it will take much convincing to get her to change her mind.  Wink


...JP
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« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2012, 08:04:21 PM »

I went to pet the leghorn in the garden the other day and the golden sexlink took a chunk out of my hand.  I think she came down someplace between the goal posts for 3 points.  Today we were out burying the apple pulp from cider making and the leghorn took a run at my son.  I don’t know what the deal is they are always been real nice.  About june everybody is trying to give away the roosters they bought as pullets.
KP don’t know if you had chickens for a while but here in the valley the raptors will  be migrating through with the waterfowl and they are hard on chickens.  About 2 years ago a big kite would not get off the chicken house.  The guy at work that free ranges his all the time looses about half his flock this time of year.
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« Reply #40 on: October 21, 2012, 11:34:13 PM »

i covered the pen with bird netting.  to many big predator birds in our neighborhood.  just have to remember to give it a twang when it's been raining.  took a good shower out there this AM!
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #41 on: October 22, 2012, 06:51:52 PM »

...
JP ...brought me a rooster... so far, he's really nice....but i know that can change.   Wink

Don't chase or catch a hen in his presence.  He will begin viewing you as a rooster and act accordingly.
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« Reply #42 on: October 22, 2012, 06:59:12 PM »

i have heard that even going back at them when they challenge you is a problem.  that's why i am using the squirt bottle, but other than a couple of fluffing up and half hearted runs at me, he's been a good boy.

he sure does let me know if there is anything out there! 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #43 on: October 23, 2012, 10:50:15 PM »

You can build yourself a couple of small brooders that are 5 X 3 X 2 feet with the bottom raised 8 inches to a foot above ground level.  The floor should be ¼ inch hardware cloth and the front 1 inch or smaller chicken wire.  The back and both ends are covered with tin roofing or with 1 inch chicken wire covered by tin roofing. 

Make a top that comes down even with the top of the frame and put enough tin on it to create a four way overhang (if used outside).  Two sliding inter covers each 3 feet long X 2 feet 9 inches wide go between the top of the frame, sliding under or above the other inter-cover on strips of ¾ lumber or quarter round moldings nailed to the inside of the side frame top.  This lets you open the whole top and prop it up with a stick or board, but nothing can get out or in when you are feeding and watering.  You just slide the inter-cover you want to open back and your body will block any flighty chick’s or hen’s path to freedom.

Each inter cover can be slid either over or under the other creating a smaller top opening that flighty biddies or dang fool hens can’t bolt past when you least expect it.  Now divide the brooder into two equal halves using 4X2 inch welded wire.  This keeps the hen from the biddies food and side of the brooder because as sure as god makes little green apples the first thing she will do is overturn the food dish trying to scratch for her biddies, spilling their food through the hardware cloth and onto the ground.  This division also gives you the option of covering the front ½ of the brooder (where the hen is) with tin, making an even drier and warmer place for her to hover her clutch.   The baby chicks can go freely back and forth to be hovered or to get to the heat source and food you provide.  If using a heat lamp divide the brooder with a curtain in the middle so the chicks can go through easily but all cold drafts can not.   

Baby chicks do not need anything to eat for their first 48 to 72 hours of life.  In fact it is a bad idea to feed them other than to put a saucer of chick grit or clean sand in the brooder (where the hen can’t reach it) so they can practice their pecking instinct.  Feed the hen nothing but whole grain dent corn in a hanging feed cup for the first few days.  Do put a chick fountain on the side opposite the hen, but only where she can barely reach it through the 2 X 4 welded wire.  The hen’s feed cup can hang on the wire too.

After the chicks have been hatched at least 48 hours and are good and dry and alert, for their first feed nothing is better than a HARD boiled egg that has been finely crumbled, shell and all.  If your using a hen don’t forget to put the egg crumbles where she can’t get to or spill them.  The next day add some dry old fashion oat meal to the boiled egg, along with some good starter-grower.  Don’t forget to put it where the hen can’t get to or spill it.

Buttermilk by itself, or non-fat dry milk mixed with sugar water is very good for new chicks.  When they are no more than a week to ten days old you can start them on whole seeds but I first like to start them out on a few table spoonfuls of bird seed then a few days later switch to whole or horse oats to go along with their starter-grower.  You can also start them on scratch feed now.  Don’t forget the granite or marble mineral chick grit fed free choice at all times. 

If using a hen and if you have the room as well as a safe chicken yard, you can fix a door in the chick side of the brooder pen to allow them to come and go during the day and then lock them up safe and sound for the night.  This gives them a chance to get all the exercise and natural foods that a chicken needs.  Also don’t forget that it will also allow them to pick up every internal parasite that all chickens are prey to so don’t forget to vaccinate and worm them on a regular schedule.  Enjoy.

Oh yea.  Rocks, marbles, or other rubble in the water fountain base is necessary at least for the first couple of weeks.  Baby chicks don’t seem to know what water is and if left to their own devices they will go for a swim in their water fountain and either drown, get chilled, or contact pneumonia.  I don’t really know for sure but chickens seem to recognize green water better than clean pure water.  Some green food dye in the water fountian may keep a few chicks from going skinny dipping.
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