July 24, 2015

The Up and Coming

Our Australorp chicks are going on 11 weeks old. They are all feathered out now and look like little chickens.


Of the original chicks, twelve remain. Three were killed by a rat, and one was lost due to an accident. Of those twelve, we appear to have two roosters.

The two on the right have the reddest and most developed combs.

Of those two, one is larger and can always be found with the pullets.

This one is attempting to crow!

The smaller one is more of a loner, usually to be found on the periphery of the other Australorps.

The Loner

Choosing a rooster has always been a much deliberated task on the homestead (see "Rules With an Iron Claw"), but this time, the choice appears to have been made for me. The chickens themselves made the choice.

What do my older hens think? For the most part they go about their own business, while the young 'Lorps all stick together.

The Buffs and Speckled Sussex have pretty much left the chicks
alone. The Wyandottes, on the other hand, chase everybody. 

The hen who had been trying to crow is no longer doing that, although none of them seem to care one way or another about the presence of roosters once again. These are all older gals, some of them in their fourth summer of laying. I'm only getting about four eggs a day now, so their production is not impressive.

The pullets will be five months old in October, so we can expect our first pullet eggs then. After that we'll get down to a core group of chickens for the winter. The rest will be canned for chicken stew.

It's a lot of fun to try out different breeds of chickens, but we've pretty much decided that we're through experimenting. For better or for worse, we'll stick with the Black Australorps, assuming some will go broody. I've had mixed reports on that, so we'll see. The plan is to let them raise half a dozen or so of their own chicks every year, and replace the oldest hens from those numbers. As long as we can have a fairly steady supply of eggs, I'll be happy.

25 comments:

1st Man said...

Love it!!! Can't wait for someday when we can do this. Those black hens are nice looking. I love that first picture. What color eggs to they lay? Standard brown?

Farmer Barb said...

My kids have been waxing nostalgic about when we had chickens. Two days ago a raccoon dug out the sheep grain bottle (old pretzel container) from its hiding spot between the hog panel and the hardware cloth. It was able to snap the lid and pop it off instead of unscrewing it. The grain was all over the ground, clearly not what it wanted.

It is just waiting for me to get more chickens.

Izzy said...

We decided to change the genetic makeup of our flock too. The ones we have now are getting upwards of 2-3 years old and the number of eggs is starting to slow. Which has been OK, since we can't eat all they lay anyway. So we picked up 12 New Hampshire Reds and 3 Ideal 236. Yep that's what they are called. Ideals special, really great egg laying variety. So we'll see how they do. We will start to cull the flock later this fall when these new ones are older and the weather is a bit cooler for that "fun" activity.

Erika Keller said...

I hope your Australorps get broody. I adore black chickens and would love to have a sustaining flock. This raising up chicks in a brooder is for the birds.

Mama Pea said...

My favorite variety (after trying many, many different ones as you have done) is the Black Australorp, too. My husband is not quite as enthusiastic about them as I am because . . . oops, we've never had one go broody on us. Sigh. But we always keep a couple bantam hens because they will sit on the Australorp's eggs and act as surrogate mothers. Your Australorps may turn out to be broody though and if so, we're coming down to steal them! ;o}

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

I don't have chickens but it seems they provide a lot of entertainment. My neighbor who I have been getting my eggs from had trouble with raccoons and coyotes so her hens have not been laying well. Discouraging for her. Me too as less eggs for me! Nancy

Nancy LittleHomesteadinBoise said...

Pretty birds! I had to get rid of my little roo, not allowed. His trying crow was too funny, his trying to mount the hens- not so much, ew...

Harry Flashman said...

My chickens were originally English fighting chickens. In 1999 a friend gave us three hens and two roosters. Then a few years later, a black banty hen showed up out of the forest. Now our chickens are smaller, mostly black and some white. They are good layers.

I don't kill the roosters. I guess I would if I needed to eat them, but since my chickens are free range, I wind up with little "clans" and not much rooster on rooster mayhem.

DFW said...

Rhode Island Reds & Buff Orpingtons are what most the locals grow around the country house. Although the local feed store had some Black Australorp chicks last spring. Humm ... I can't wait to 'experiment'.

Meredith said...

Nice! We just finished processing our spring chicks for meat and I'm always glad to have that chore behind me.

Lynda D said...

Good ole aussie chookies.

Renee Nefe said...

hope that your girls get broody

Leigh said...

Yes, a standard brown egg. They really are sharp looking aren't they? And it's amazing how different the breeds are. Lots of fun to experience.

Leigh said...

Oh Barb, you had a bad experience and that was really too bad. It would take some real doings to keep chickens safe at your place.

Leigh said...

Sounds like your in the same boat as us, Izzy. I've not heard of the 236s! And never tried the Reds. So many breeds and too little time. :)

Leigh said...

I had Welsummers a number of years ago, and that breed isn't supposed to go broody. But I had one go broody and she was an excellent mama. We'll just have to wait and see!

Leigh said...

Well, if they don't, I will try your trick and get a couple of bantam hens! At least there would be no confusion about the eggs and I could still raise a single breed. :)

Leigh said...

You're right, Nancy, they are wonderfully entertaining! And they don't lay well when stressed, that's true too. I hope your neighbor is able to keep her chickens safe and that laying picks up soon.

Leigh said...

In some ways it's been kinda nice not having a rooster around. They can wear the hens ragged! And they can be way too noisy. Would love to find a crowless rooster.

Leigh said...

Harry, the clans speak well of free ranging, as long as they have plenty of room to roam. Interesting that yours have developed the way they have. Nice that they are good layers! (As long as you can find the eggs. :)

Leigh said...

It is so much fun to choose and try out different breeds of chickens! I think Buffs are popular everywhere, which speaks well of the breed. Our feed stores all order chicks in the spring and we can usually have quite a choice. Actually i would rather buy from feed stores, but the timing wasn't good this year.

Leigh said...

Not a pleasant chore to be sure! All ours to be processed are older hens, so we'll wait for cooler weather. We'll have goats and pigs to do too, but the freezer will be full once again.

Leigh said...

The Aussies have more to offer the homesteading world than anybody! Chickens, water recycling, permaculture, (just to name a few :)

Leigh said...

Me too! :)

Lynda said...

No truer words ever spoken, Leigh! Because of our continuing drought I've poured over books and blogs to see how our friends in Australia are overcoming their years of drought and I've learned so much. I've put together a 2 nice wicking beds...thank you Aussies!