Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bird Update

I know, my blogging has been lagging and I have a lot to update. But I'll start with my bird update. After the dramatic hatching you can see here, there was a very sad incident less than 24 hours later that involved a door left open and a certain gray cat. He ate that first little chick whose hatching (birth?) we captured on Rhiannon's camera - the one with the cool black markings around his eyes. Sampson ate the entire thing - beak, feet and all. I felt like crying! The door is now covered in signs made by Rhiannon (who unfortunately is the one who left it open...) and no more such incidents have happened.... although Sampson does occasionally pace back and forth in front of the door...

Then we waited for the next eggs to hatch - there were 19 of them. Some Ameraucaunas and some New Hampshire Reds that we got from the lady who sold us the chickens. 4 hatched. 3 Ameraucaunas - 1 black and 2 grey and one New Hampshire Red. Very disappointing.... I'm really hoping they are all hens and we can add them to our flock. However, we were hoping that we would have enough to add to our flock and to eat all the little roosters and extra hens...

It is getting a little late to start another hatching. So I called Okanagan Hatchery and ordered 35 chickens - 10 each for two of my friends who have agreed to help with butchering if necessary (I'll get into why that might be necessary in a future post) and 12 for me with 3 extra. Okanagan Hatchery only traffic in broilers which I was hoping to avoid as I don't really want to support the over-breeding of birds. Todays broilers have been bred for such fast growth that heart attacks and crippling are not uncommon. I talked to the guy and he told me I could slow their growth by feeding them wheat to avoid those problems. I needed them right away to fit in with my chicks so I went for it. When we arrived to pick them up, he threw in 5 extra. So we have 46 chicks in the basement now.


Here you can see the two left from the first hatching amidst all those little yellow fluff balls we will be eating for dinner... They have become the leaders of the flock which isn't necessarily a good thing as they are very skittish.















You can see the two gray Ameraucaunas here.


And the one standing on top of the feeder and looking right at the camera is the New Hampshire Red - barely distinguishable from all those other yellow fluff balls who will be dinner.... So far we can tell her apart by her wing feather development.

And who is the chicken I am holding at the beginning of this blog? That's Lacey our prettiest Silver Laced Wyandotte who faithfully lays us eggs who let me catch her yesterday.

7 comments:

bum.by.the.sea said...

awww! so CUTE! don't know how I'd ever leave the basement if it was full of such little fluff balls. such a cool idea too.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was beside you holding that lovely hen with the beautiful feathers. The little fluff balls just made me want to jump in the pool along side them!

Laura said...

that's really sad about the chick sampson ate. elicia and i are confused. are egg laying chickens different than eating chickens?

Andrea said...

Chicken Lesson #1: There are two (maybe 3) kinds of chickens: egg layers and broilers. Egg layers have been bred to produce maximum eggs on minimum feed and are usually smaller. Broilers have been bred for maximum growth on minimum feed. Then there are 'dual birds' who are dependable egg layers yet get large that they are worth eating. My egg layers are all considered dual birds. The first chicks that hatched (hyline browns) are strictly for eggs and the Ameraucaunas are dual and all those little chicks are broilers. In the past when I have raised chickens to eat, I have always used dual birds. They take longer to come to maturity but they have less health problems.

Laura said...

what about lacey?

Andrea said...

Lacey and all the other Silver Laced Wyandottes are considered dual birds and so are the Buff Orpingtons. So next year I will just raise a mess of their chicks.

Elicia said...

wow Andrea...you are the chicken queen! thanks for the clarification on chickens. when I my uncle raised chickens in our backyard. they were for food (so I guess that they would be broilers then?) and were the ugliest things you could imagine...definitely not cute and yellow and fuzzy like some of your other chicks.....