Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Chicken update

Our last remaining Buff Orpington:

We didn't get new chicks this spring. If we don't have too many predator losses we really won't need them. But if the chickens start disappearing at the rate they did last spring, we'll be short on eggs for a while.

Why the coyotes/bobcats/hawks don't go after the roosters, I don't know. We've lost three chickens so far this spring - all hens. We're back to the too many roosters problem of last year.

I'm afraid I've spent too much time with them to use the previous solution. Our sweet Easter Egger rooster will eat out of my hand. Even the Rhode Island Red is nice, if a bit stand-offish. (Email me if you're local and want one of those two!)

Current chicken count:

1 mean Easter Egger, "Stewpot"
1 nice Easter Egger, "Eagle"
1 nice Rhode Island Red, "Big Red"

1 White Leghorn
1 Buff Orpington
5 Easter Eggers
1 Dominique
3 Marans

I think that one of the hens is a Dominique. She may be a Marans instead - they look very much alike.

The Marans eggs are lightening over time, and are not all they're cracked up to be in the "really dark eggs" department. Also, they're smallish. But we do get a few speckled eggs from them, which is kind of cool.

The last Rhode Island Red hen got snatched a month or so ago. I guess I've finally stopped crying over missing chickens.


chiefbiscuit said...

I love hens. It's part of my childhood memories standing at the hen-house listening to the hens 'talking' and 'chortling'. And the sound of a hen after it's laid an egg is a very rural-childhood memory of mine. Hens are cool! And doesn't the hen in your photo know it?!

Wayne said...

I've tried to convince Glenn, perhaps less than enthusiastically, that we should try keeping chickens. It's been a musing sort of proposal in which I have not really been vehement enough.

Perhaps if I mentioned that it might attract bobcats he'd say yes yes.

That's just a bit of a not very good joke, really. I'm sorry you've lost so many hens to predators (and I really don't want to encourage the coyotes here, either).

I'm sure you've posted this in the past, but what are the chickens' curfews? Are they free-ranging, or kept in a pen or henhouse?

Rurality said...

CB I love their sounds too!

Wayne, chickens are hilarious. Really, barrel-o-monkey fun. If your cats are outside with no problems then chickens would probably be ok too.

Hubby built a chicken coop that they're in at night. They put themselves to bed at dusk. Then we shut the door til morning. They are free-range, and would be fine if they would just stay out of the woods... but that's their favorite place.

Your biggest problem would be preventing the cats from killing them until they got big enough to defend themselves... you'd almost have to have a "yard" just for the chickens, I'd think. Or a chicken tractor.

Juli said...

We brought home three chicks last month, our first ever. They are illegal aliens as chickens (livestock) are not allowed here the 'burbs. We're livin' on the edge, rebels we are.

I knew we had birds of prey in the 'hood but I learned just how close they are by setting three peepers outside in the backyard. Fortunately, I'm bigger than the hawk and it kept its distance and I was able to get the chicklets back inside. Good thing, I didn't think my blood pressure could handle it.

The girls (Xena, Ginger and Ella) are approx. 6-7 weeks old and get daily outtings to the backyard with me. My husband is constructing a tractor that should be ready for use later this week. (We thought, since we're breaking the law, that a temporary structure would be good for now. If the neighbors are ok with it all, then the tractor can be easily converted to a coop on legs.)

It was nice to see your Buff... Ginger is a Buff Orpington and is the sweetest thing! She'll definitely be our lap chick.

meresy_g said...

What a pretty chicken. I hope my buffs are that cute when they grow up. Mine are still in their brooder box in the garage. They will over night in the shed and I still have to fashion some kind of movable pen with netting overhead. I've only ever seen one coyote but we have tons of red tailed hawks and neighbor's barn cats. How old were your chickens when they started to lay?

Rexroth's Daughter said...

We've been talking about getting some hens. Can't have a rooster, though. We live out in the country, but we have certain (sub-division) restrictions on land-use, and one was "no farm animals, except horses." The neighbors might not mind some quiet chicks in a tractor and coop, but we could never hide or get them to accept a rooster.

On the other hand, I'm not sure we want to attract any more coyotes and bobcats than we already have. And I'm not even going to mention the hawks. So, chickens, mmm maybe not such a good idea. But those eggs are so good. And the birds are so photogenic!

Jennifer Lankenau said...

I spen't last weekend helping some neighbors round up a vagabond peacock.

True story.

Floridacracker said...

Mine put themselves up on the porch every night so their free ranging is limited. Nothing like chick poop all over your porch.

Free ranging and gardens clash also.

Charles said...

I better own up. I'm the one who's been takeing your chickens, knowing all along that you'd, y'know, blame nature. Its just the thought of darting off with one under my arm and dashing onto the subway with it is so exciteing!

Clare said...

Buff Orpington. Rhode Island Red. Am I the only one who goes instantly to Foghorn Leghorn when I read those names? "That Rhode Island Red turned white, then blue. Rhode Island. Red white and blue. It's a flag waver boy. You've got a hole in your glove, I keep pitchin' them and you keep missin' them......"

Rurality said...

Sorry I haven't been responding to comments in a very timely manner. Very busy this week!

Girlonaglide, I hope your outlaw chickens don't get caught!

M, anywhere from 4 - 8 months, depending on the breed. I think 6 months is about average for spring chicks.

RD, the hens can be loud too, especially when laying eggs!

Jennifer, my cousins used to have peacocks. They do tend to wander a lot! Theirs took up residence at a neighbor's down the street. I think they're notorious for that.

FC any kind of a fence at all seems to work for the chickens, unless they can find a way under it. They won't normally fly over.

Charles... what can I expect from a person with no RSS feed?!

Clare I did think about that back when we had some Leghorn cockerels!

Ulla said...

I love your photos the best blog photos I have come upon! I have dominques....they are great..

Gina said...

Ah, the rooster challenge. Good luck with finding homes for the guys. We currently have two friendly Buff Orpington roosters who are VERY interested in "the ladies"- at least one has to go. But we're "chicken" about butchering, hehe. Our hens are wearing saddles to protect their backs, but the head thing is troubling...

Ulla said...

Hi there. Do you have a dog? I have a great pyranees, he is calm and he has been trained not to bother the chickens(which was very easy he only killed one) and he keeps all the predators away from the barn yard. A really really great deterant.