April 29, 2010

Chickens Lookin' Good

Theresa asked how my chickens are doing, and I have to say very well. They are about three months old now, but since they're pretty much grown, I don't run out there with the camera quite so often. But, since it's been awhile since my last chicken update; obviously it's time for another!

Good Mornin' Chickens!My first chicken chore of the day is to let them out into their yard. This is pretty much a typical presentation, with the white Ameraucana cockerel (I've seen this one crow, or rather, attempt to crow) front and center. The Delawares (left) are always first for anything. The chicken on the right is another Ameraucana, I'm hoping this one is a pullet.

My chickens enjoying a drinkWhile they're running around and stretching their legs, I get fresh water. I don't know why, but the water in this old dog dish is infinitely superior to the same water in the chicken waterer in the coop.

Chickens foraging under the cedar treeUsually I go get some handfuls of weeds next. I'm learning to identify what they like. Late April has been tough though, because the offerings I find aren't as much to their liking. I was hopeful though, when a few of them were willing to eat some of the kudzu leaves I brought.

What are you lookin' at???Besides foraging, resting in the sun if it's chilly & the shade if it's hot, running in and out of the coop, and an occasional communal dust bath fill the hours of their days.

One question that might be on your mind (and mine as well), is how many roosters do I have? I have 19 chickens total, and I've positively identified six, maybe seven cockerels, though I know there are more.

The Welsummers were easiest to sex, due to different coloring of males and females. I have six of this breed, three of each.

3 month old Welsummer pulletWellie pullet

3 month old Welsummer cockerelWellie roo

Of my five Ameraucanas, I've seen three crowing. I'm watching and waiting on the last two. Of course I'm hoping for pullets. I don't know about this one though...

3 month old Ameraucana Ameraucana pullet????

You may recall that I lost four of the six Barred Hollands I ordered. Thankfully, I seem to have one of each.

My pair of Barred Hollands
3 month old DelawareThe Delawares are more difficult to tell the difference yet. I have six, and I know there are some of each. I won't know the final count until they've matured a little more.

Waiting for their kitchen scrapsIn the early evening, I bring out the kitchen and garden scraps. The late day timing of this is deliberate, as eventually they will be allowed to pasture in the goat field. I want to develop the routine now, so that they will come back to the yard for their scraps before going to bed. As you can see, they're catching on, and I always find them watching and waiting for me around suppertime. When I come with their scraps, I call out "chick, chick, chick" for a verbal signal as well. Food is a wonderful incentive, isn't it? :)

Chickens toward the end of the day.Eventually they head back into the coop.

A cozy roostExcept for one Welsummer, they all roost together on the top roosting bar. There are 18 chickens up there, all wondering what in the world I'm doing in the coop after dark.

Soon we'll have to start culling out the roosters. There are daily mock stand-offs amongst them, but I realize that it's going to get more serious pretty soon. I'm not entirely certain how to choose a flock rooster, except to eliminate some by breed. If we do indeed have a pair of Barred Hollands, that one may very well be the rooster we keep. DH really likes the breed, and as a rare American heritage breed, it would be a good choice to raise. Not many places raise and sell them.

I have to confess though, that I'm kinda partial to the Welsummers, and we have discussed the possibility of keeping two separate flocks. Considering everything we have to do, that may well be a future project. In that case we'll stick with the Barred Holland rooster, as Welsummers are easier to come by.

Chickens Lookin' Good text and photos copyright April 2010
by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

Related Posts:
Did I Mention They Are Boring? - The chickens from our cat's perspective

22 comments:

  1. Man you have a lot of chickens. Your Wellie Roo is one handsome fella. You'll be drowning in eggs before you know it. I just brought home a dozen from neighbor Mim today. She's drowning in eggs and has half your flock.

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  2. Just food for thought; I have no roosters, but one of my hens tries to crow once in awhile; it's hilarious!

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  3. Your chickens are looking soooo nice. Our hens also seem to prefer water that is outside (either in puddle form or from a bucket), why I don't know. I guess it must taste better to them. lol I like your Wellie roo. Next time Lee and I get chickens we are going to get straight runs. I was pretty disappointed that we didn't get at least one rooster.

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  4. Your chooks look so happy. The roos are handsome devils. That is a great idea to get them into the evening routine. That should save lots of time in the future. Just think, only a few more weeks before you get eggs!

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  5. Like Michelle mentioned, sometimes a pullet will crow. One of my Americauna hens went through a crowing phase, checki it out here: http://henbogle.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/no-crowing-allowed/

    I hope you get lucky with the pullets!

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  6. Sharon, I was trying to count and figure I will probably get about 8 or 9 hens in the end. That will be a lot of eggs, won't it?

    Michelle & Ali, oh no! I didn't know that. Thanks to you both for the heads up. That's a real "oh dear," though, do I have to wait until they start laying to really be able to tell???

    Robin, must be a chicken thing!

    Nina, yes, I figured if I didn't set the routine they would, and that might not work so well with our schedule! ;)

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  7. Indeed, it is amazing how much they have become chickens rather than just chicks. And you are becoming a chicken trainer. Congrats! If you do choose to keep two roosters, are you planning to keep the flocks separate from one another?

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  8. so are the extra boys "dinner"?

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  9. Actually, over here they look quite fun!

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  10. Yours are really good to sit still for pictures! You have a beautiful flock.

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  11. Oh gosh, they are so gorgeous! Such a beautiful flock. I haven't checked in for a while- drowning in schoolwork!- but so glad I stopped by.

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  12. What perty birds!

    We have some Buckeys that look a lot like Rhode Island Reds but they seem to be more hardy and take care of themselves better. Two of them are brooding on a mountain of eggs so if you want some chicks in a few weeks just come on out to SW, VA!

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  13. I cull roosters based on temperment. If they're nasty, I eat them. If they're nice, they get to stay. Obviously, this is a sliding scale, since currently I only have one Roo (and only 7 hens). One rooster can handle up to about 10 hens. Over that, and you really need two. Kind of like sheep/goats - there's a limit to how many girls the guys can handle.

    My cornish are getting big - 1 month to d-day!!

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  14. I cannot believe they are that big. They are rather pretty - all the different colors and all.

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  15. Benita, to keep two roosters we would indeed have to keep two separate flocks. Folks do this, so it's not an uncommon practice. It would require two separate facilities (coops & yards or runs.) The other consideration is as Laura mentioned, the ratio of hens to roosters. One can either have too many hens for one roo, or too few. so we'd need to have about 10 hens of each breed. It's a possibility, but I'm not sure we're ready to put the time into that at this point. Maybe someday though.

    Renee, exactly!

    William, I'm so glad you dropped by for a visit. I know Rascal doesn't get by to visit your blog much these days, but he sincerely appreciates your visits to his.

    LivingOurWay, thanks!

    Maggie, I'm glad you stopped by too. I haven't been visiting around much either, so I understand.

    Everett, ah, you got Buckeyes! They were one of the top contenders when I was considering breeds. In the end, I didn't choose them because I read they are tight-feathered and difficult to pluck. Maybe a silly reason for such a beautiful bird, but I had to narrow my choices down some way!

    Laura, I'm not sure when temperament fully develops, but so far so good, I think. Yesterday evening I was studying my Delawares, looking for some clue as to sex. If comb & wattle development is any indication, then I may likely have 5 Delaware cockerels and only one pullet! That would give me a total of only 7 hens and a 11 chicken dinners. Time will tell if I'm right.

    Sara, isn't it amazing how quickly they grow? I love all the different colors and colorings. The Ameraucanas are an especially colorful breed. The others fit their breed genetic pattern.

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  16. Nice looking chickens and hen house! I can see that you enjoy them...maybe more than the cat!
    Have a good weekend tending the farm!!

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  17. I thought they were really cute as little fluffy chicks, but your chickens are so very beautiful now, I enjoyed this peek into their daily life.

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  18. That first picture is a prizewinner! I also love the one where they're all lined up at the fence line waiting for their evening treats! You really have a lovely assortment of chickens.
    My advice to you on the roos? Cull based on personality and disposition. You're going to find out soon enough who is friendly and who isn't. Oh...and if you haven't heard this yet, never turn your back on a rooster. Hard to imagine those sweet lil hand-raised chicks-turned-roosters attacking you when you aren't paying attention, but I find it to be the norm rather than the exception and some are much meaner than others.

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  19. Flower, thank you! I enjoy the chickens and the cat, but the cat only enjoys the humans. I think the chickens could say the same, though they think Rascal is curious to look at.

    Dorothy, as cute as fluffy chicks are, the chickens are pleasing to look at, aren't they?

    Farmgirl, thanks! I've read some things about roosters that make me realize that they do need some respect. I will heed what you say about not turning my back on them. The same is true for all males of the various species it seems.

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  20. They look fabulous. I wandered over here from Woody's Rocky Ridge. Most of all I like your title: "5 acres and a dream." You sound a lot like us on our little homestead, only we don't have time yet to have animals. http://ozarkhomesteader.wordpress.com/

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  21. I can't believe how big they have gotten. They are just so cute!

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  22. Ozarkhomesteader, welcome! Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. I've had a chance to visit your blog too, great reading.

    Julie, I never knew how fast chickens grew. It's been an interesting thing to watch.

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