City Chick goes Country

Homesteading on a 0.18 acre suburban lot in rural Arkansas

In the Garden with Chickens: The Lazy Gardener

I am by nature a lazy gardener. The one garden task that gets neglected more often than not is weeding. I hate weeding. If I could get away with never doing it, I’d be the happiest gardener in the world. But, every year grass and other weeds invade my garden beds. These unwelcome guests must go. I have several choices for weed control; a Weed Dragon, various hoes and cultivators, pulling by hand, and chickens. That’s right—I embrace having chickens in my garden.

 

Chickens in the garden

Chickens are my favorite method of weed control. If you give them some time, they will eliminate all weed, weed seeds, bugs and grubs from the garden bed. Right now, they are working the future tomato bed. I just pulled the garlic and before I plant again, I’ll let the girls have a romp through the garden bed. They will remove any cutworms, weeds, and bugs. As a bonus, their scratching around tills the bed. I am left with the task of planting, adding mulch, and tomato cages. Nothing else needs to be done.

 

My girls need supervision in this particular garden bed. It is outside of the garden area where they are allowed to roam free. If left unsupervised, I would have chickens everywhere. It would not be a good situation. They could get into the neighbors’ backyards. With two hours a day of supervised time, 15 hens stripped the bed clean in two days. They get tasty plants and high quality protein from bugs and grubs. I get a weed and pest free garden bed, healthier eggs, and spend less money on chicken feed.

 

There is a down side to allowing chickens to do your garden bed preparation. Unlike ducks, chickens will devour your favorite plants. According to my chickens, anything green or wiggling through the ground must be eaten. They do not make the distinction between the gardens you want them to be in and the gardens full of your favorite plants and veggies. Chickens prefer the latter. If you want to be able to keep your garden alive and well, a barrier of some form is necessary. I use several different methods with varying success. Expect plant casualties. It is inevitable.

 

— till next time

Lynda

Fly Control on the Homestead

How to control flies on my little homestead? I would love to breed chickens, ducks, and turkeys, but not flies. Before we moved in, there were flies on the property. The neighbors have dogs, we have dogs and chickens, and everyone has flies. It is part of life in a mostly rural town. I won’t use pesticides. After a bought with breast cancer, I avoid as many toxic substances as possible. Turning to traps and predatory insects seems to be my only options.

 

Manure

The Doggie Dooley 3000 Septic-Tank-Style Pet-Waste Disposal System I purchased a year ago does not keep up with the amount of manure my dogs generate. I still use it, but I only dump a small amount in each week. The rest is shoveled up daily and put in the trash.

Chickens are a different story. I don’t have a chicken coop—just a run. The bottom of the run is deep litter. I use pine shavings. It is expensive but I do not have access to free material. I add three to four large bags of shavings to the run every month. The idea is to keep it at about 10 to 12 inches deep. Before I add new shavings, I put down a layer of food grade diatomaceous earth (DE). I will not see any flies in the run for about a week after I add the DE and new shavings.

The deep litter system keeps the run pretty clean. I do not have to shovel chicken poop because the hens scratch through it and the whole system works like a slow burning compost pile. As long as there is enough dry material to absorb the chicken mess, there is no smell. Yes, there are some flies in the run. Anytime you have water, food, and poop, there will be flies.

Compost Piles and Other Trouble Spots

The compost pile seems to attract a lot of flies. I may have to break it down and start again. The areas near my garden faucets seem to attract flies as well. If I could dry out these areas, the flies would leave. The problem is that the hoses leak when turned on and the areas against the house get very little sun, so they stay damp. Perfect for fly breeding.

Fly Trap. Copyrighted image.

A full fly trap. Copyright 2014, Lynda Altman and City Chick goes Country. All rights reserved.

Solutions

Without using pesticides, keeping the flies in check is a challenge. I set out four Farnam Home and Garden 14680 Starbar Captivator Fly Traps.
They cost the same as the disposable ones. The difference is that I can purchase refills for the attractant cheaper than purchasing a new disposable trap. The  trap is a plastic  jar that comes with a tube of fly attractant.  It is filled halfway with water and a tube of attractant is added. A two-part lid allows flies to enter. Flies are trapped and eventually drown. The traps are gross and smell awful. However, they work extremely well.

 

A two-pack of attractant costs $5 at Tractor Supply. I change out two of the traps every three days. The other two traps I change out once every week or two. This is starting to get expensive and I still have flies.

 

When I first started using the traps, I had it wrong. Mistakenly, I placed them in the chicken run. All that accomplished was to attract more flies into the run. Once I moved the traps out of the run, the number of flies decreased.

 

Fly Predator.

Fly Predator bag with instructions.

I came across a product called Fly Predators by Spalding Labs. These are predatory insects that lay their eggs in the fly cocoon. The predators feed on the pupae inside the chrysalis and kill it. Then the predators emerge to repeat the process. I placed 10,000 Fly Predators around the property and hung the remaining few in the chicken run. It takes up to 30 days for the fly predators to work. I have a second shipment due in at the end of the month. We will see how things go.

 

 

I will keep you posted on what is working for fly control. Let me know if you have a pesticide free, animal safe method of controlling flies on your homestead.

Ten things I wish someone told me about chickens

Experience is what we get when things don’t go as planned. I was raised in one of the largest cities in New York. Growing up, I had a dog and a parakeet for pets. Even cats were foreign to me. This city chick is learning the hard way that raising chickens is not as easy as most backyard chicken blogs make it out to be. Here are ten things that I wish I knew before I bought my first chick.

1) I will never process chickens during the summer again—not ever. The heat and flies were unbearable. Processing chickens will take place in the fall through late spring. I’ll have to plan my egg purchases accordingly.

 

2) Broiler chickens have no tolerance for heat. Temps above 80 really start to stress out the adults. Arkansas heat is too much for them. I will have to make sure that the last broiler adults are processed in late spring and the next set of chicks will have to be ready in early fall.

 

3) Ear color is not an accurate way to determine what color eggs a hen will lay. Both of my white-eared hens lay colored eggs. Chicken books say that white-eared hens usually lay white eggs.

 

4) Australorp and Barred-rock pullets and cockerels can fly. It is not until they reach adulthood does the ability to fly diminish.

 

5) Hens from Easter-egger and other breeds that lay different colored eggs will only lay one color. If you want a basket full of different colored eggs, you need multiple hens.

 

6) Hens will never lay eggs where you want them to. They lay eggs where they want to.

 

7) Never trust an employee from a farm-supply store about the gender of chickens. I purchased 23 pullets. Twelve of them turned out to be cockerels. Next time I will hatch my own eggs. It is cheaper and I’ll get the same gender breakdown.

 

8) If you purchase chicks instead of adult chickens, expect to get some cockerels (young roosters.) If zoning in your area does not allow roosters, this is a problem. Most breeds will start to crow at about 8-10 weeks. You cannot sell roosters, many times you cannot give them away. No one wants roosters. Keep this in mind if you plan to order straight run or hatch eggs.

 

9) Chickens love shiny objects—this includes shiny nail polish. If you love long nails with metallic polish, expect your chickens to come after your fingers.

 

10) Chickens LOVE mealworms. If you ever need to divert your chickens’ attention away from something, mealworms will always work.

Meat and eggs on 1/5 of an acre

Part of homesteading should include producing meat and eggs (unless you are a vegetarian—I’m not.) Attempting to do this on a meager 1/5 acre in a subdivision is not easy. Zoning regulations aside, there is space—or lack thereof—to consider. My family is now eating fresh eggs and semi-free range chicken, courtesy of our little homestead.

 

Eggs

Copyrighted Image.

My new hens are laying beautiful colored eggs. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.

My initial goal was to purchase chicks and raise them, with egg production starting toward the end of summer. An opportunity came up for me to buy seven adult hens with unknown egg production. I figured this would fill in the gap between now and when the pullets would start laying. After a quarantine period, we merged the adult hens with the pullets. Egg production started out okay—averaging two eggs per day. My family uses more eggs than that, but it is a start.

 

I was trying to figure out which hens were laying. Three were identified, but I was pretty sure there was a fourth, based on egg color and the time when I found the eggs. On Monday, my hens proved that there are indeed at least four laying hens. It was the first ever four-egg day! My ladies gifted me with eggs in shades of pink, tans, and green. Today was a repeat performance.

 

Egg count from 6/14 to 7/1:   29

Meat

Meat production is something that most chicken blogs do not discuss. Well, this former City Chick raises both laying hens and chickens for meat. Is this cruel? No, my chickens live a good life with access to fresh air, sunshine, supervised free-range time, and healthy food. For years I have been very vocal about how large-scale confined chicken farming is inhumane. I own my home, so it is possible for me to raise chickens for meat.

 

Broilers and dual purpose chickens

Copyrighted image. All rights reserved.

One of our broiler chickens. Copyright 2014 Lynda Altman and City Chick goes Country

 

I started my venture into chicken raising Cornish-cross chicks. This would be the acid test to see if raising chickens was something I wanted to do. After 12 weeks, the birds would be processed and I would know if my venture into chickendom was successful.

 

Turns out, chickens are not that difficult to care for. We built a large chicken run which housed both the broilers and the pullets. Turns out, some of the pullets were cockerels–that’s a problem.

 

After 15 weeks, we processed four, very large broilers. They dressed out between 8.5 and 9 pounds. It is hard to say how much money this saved us. You cannot find chickens that large in the grocery store—especially ones that are semi-free range and free from added hormones and antibiotics.

 

Meat production so far

We have harvested 26 ½ pounds of chicken:

One 9 pound roast chicken.

7 ½ pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast.

6 pounds of chicken leg quarters.

4 pounds of backs and wings for chicken stock.

 

So far I am pleased with the returns I am getting from my little homestead. My new adult layers are starting to produce better than expected and we are enjoying fresh peas from the garden to eat with our chicken. Soon, there will be squash, sweet potatoes, plenty of tomatoes, and fresh herbs.

How chicken eggs get their color

My quest to figure out which of my seven hens were laying eggs led me to start researching egg color. Trying to determine which of my hens were producing blue/green eggs was becoming difficult. One of my hens looks like some form of Auraucana cross, maybe and Easter-Egger or Olive-Egger. My unanswered question was “would a single hen lay eggs of different colors?” Off to the search engines I went.

He says, she says

Copyrighted Image.

My new hens are laying beautiful colored eggs. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.

The internet is full of contradicting information. Some say of course Easter-Eggers and chickens in that class lay multiple colored eggs. Others said, no, just one color per hen. Additional responses claimed hens can lay different shades of eggs in the same color family. Finally, I found my answer thanks to a research paper titled “An EAV-HP Insertion in 5′ Flanking Region of SLCO1B3 Causes Blue Eggshell in the Chicken.” Exactly what I was looking for—a peer reviewed paper on chicken egg color. It is a very interesting read, especially if the genetic origin of the Auraucana and blue chicken eggs piques your interest.

It’s in the genes

Hens that lay white eggs, will always lay white eggs. Hens that lay brown eggs can lay eggs in shades of browns, ranging from dark brown to almost light pink. Those that lay blue or green eggs will only lay eggs in shades of blues and greens. Even the blue/green eggs of the Auraucana are different than truly blue eggs.

 

All eggs start out white. Hens that lay white eggs lack the genes which produce colored eggs. A hen that lays white eggs will never start to lay colored eggs—not even very light colors.

 

Brown eggs are caused by the pigment protoporphyrin, which adds the color at the end of the shell development process. Break open a brown egg and remove any membrane from the inside of a shell fragment and you will notice that the inside of the shell is white. The brown coloring on the outside of the shell can be rubbed off. A hen that lays brown eggs, no matter what breed, will only lay eggs in shades of brown to pink. The shade of brown will vary due to breed, temperature, stress, age, health, and diet.

 

Blue and green eggs are a unique situation. The eggs are colored by the pigment oocyanin, which adds the color during the early formation of the shell. Break open a blue or green egg and look at the inside of the shell–it will be blue. Green eggs are caused by the hen being able to produce both pigments—blue and brown. Genetics dictates whether a hen will lay truly blue eggs or green/blue eggs. Blue eggers lay eggs in shades of blue. Green eggers lay in shades of green. Stress, breed, environmental factors, health, and age all play a part in how dark or light the shade is.

 

Will a single hen lay multiple colored eggs?

This takes us back to my original question. The answer is no—genetics dictates the color she is able to lay. There may be subtle shading within her color range. Weather, especially temperature, can impact egg color. Young hens who are just beginning to lay may have eggs that darken over time. Older hens approaching the end of their laying days will gradually have smaller eggs that lighten in color.

 

Did this post help you? Leave me a comment, I’d love to hear about your flock.

 

–Lynda, a city chick gone country.

Who is laying eggs?

Copyrighted image.

This little red and black hen lays perfect tan eggs. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All Rights reserved.

 

Forget Where’s Waldo. Who’s laying is way more challenging. I have seven hens. They were purchased at a livestock auction on June 14th. One of the hens was laying, as she left an egg in the cage at the auction. I am positive that at least four of the ladies are gifting me with eggs. It could be more. The hens are of different breeds and they make a pretty little flock. Over the past 11 days they have given me a total of 13 eggs. Not bad when you consider the stress of being sold at auction, quarantine, and integration into a flock of pullets.

 

 

 

 

Copyrighted Image.

My new hens are laying beautiful colored eggs. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.

 

Eggs, glorious eggs

The seven hens are of different breeds. It appears that I have a Barred Rock, a Black Australorp, two that could be Rhode Island Reds or Red sex-linked or Production Reds, one Easter-Egger or Ameraucana, and the other two are most likely mixed breeds of some sort.

 

I am thrilled that they are laying this well. In the back of my mind, I reconciled the fact that these hens were at auction because their egg laying days were over. The Barred Rock is older, you can tell by her legs, but she is a gorgeous bird.

 

Egg color tells me that I have at least two different layers. I am getting eggs in shades of browns/pink and eggs in shades of blues/greens. All of the eggs are about the same size. When compared to commercial large white eggs, they are slightly smaller, but not by much. I’ll call them medium/large.

 

Detective work

The pullets are only 10 weeks old. They are not laying so I can remove them from the “who is laying” equation. A little detective work leads me to the conclusion that at least four hens are laying. While checking to make sure the chooks were going to be safe and dry from an approaching storm, I noticed one of the hens going in and out of the nest box. She was very protective over it. At the time, the nest box was empty. I sat and watched her. It was raining, but I wanted to see if she would lay, so in the rain I sat. My efforts paid off. She rewarded me with a blue egg.

 

A similar situation happened a few days later. This time there was already an egg in the nest box. I noticed the Australorp exhibiting the same behavior as the hen who laid the blue egg for me. The brown egg was removed from the nest box and I continued to watch the Australorp. After an hour had passed, I decided to give up. As I started to walk away, the hen came out of the nest box and there was another egg. Happy dance time—for me and my hen. She struts around the run singing after she lays. Nice to know that she sings, it will alert me to check the nest box.

 

Today, I watched my little red and black hen sit in the nest box. Even when I offered treats to the others, she refused to leave. She emerged about 45 minutes later, leaving behind a medium tan egg.  This is layer number three.

 

There is a fourth layer—my mystery hen. She lays medium tan eggs, but based on the fact that chickens have a cycle of at least 26 hours, it is unlikely that all of the tan eggs have come from either the red and black hen or the Australorp. I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet of when I find the eggs and their colors. Now that I have confirmed egg times for three of the hens, there has to be at least one more hen laying tan/brown eggs.

 

This confirms at least four layers. Three are laying brown eggs and one is laying a blue egg. I hope that continuing to observe my hen will lead me to figure out their laying cycles and finally determine who is laying and when.

Roo is not a lady

Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.

Our first ever little Cornish Cross chicks.

Back in April, I purchased 24 chicks from Tractor Supply. The salesperson swore up and down that the chicks were pullets even though one of the price tags said straight run. FYI – pullets are baby hens, cockerels are baby roosters, and straight run chicks are supposed to be a 50/50 mix of pullets to cockerels. Based on the information from the salesperson, I purchased 24 chicks: 8 Australorp, 8 Barred Rock, and 8 Ameraucana. One chick died within a day—things happen—leaving me with 23 chicks that were supposed to be all female. So imagine my surprise when some of the ladies started developing crowns and wattles.

copyrighted image

Black Australorp Cockerel. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.

Dude is not a lady

Barred Rocks and Australorp roosters and hens both have combs and wattles, the roos have larger ones, but I am new to this chicken thing. Giving the salesperson the benefit of the doubt, I figured that maybe the few that were lacking were just slower to develop. WRONG! Last week, the first of the ladies started to crow. Dude is definitely not a lady. This morning, there was a cacophony of crowing. No only am I worried about neighbors complaining, but roosters are not allowed inside city limits. It is only a matter of time before zoning or animal control shows up at my door. So the boys have got to go—ASAP.

copyrighted image

Barred rock and Ameraucana cockerels–young roosters. Copyright Lynda Altman 2014. All rights reserved.

Tough Choices

In my naiveté I assumed it would be fairly simple to sell off the roosters. Once again, I am wrong. Everyone wants hens. My cockerels are not as marketable as I had assumed. They are beautiful, constantly looking for trouble, and loud. They are also big enough to dress out as meat birds. My research has given me the option of driving an hour and a half each way to the livestock auction in Marble, Ark. or to use the cockerels as meat birds. The boys will not bring enough at auction to warrant an entire day in Marble. While it is a wonderful little town, there is very little to do while waiting hours for the auction to begin. I have made the decision to process them when I process my broilers.

Tractor Supply’s helpful sales force

I understand that everyone makes mistakes. But I asked more than once for clarification about the gender of the chicks before I bought them. I was assured that they were pullets. Being naïve about chicks and chickens, I assumed if the salesperson was wrong, I would be able to process the roosters before they became sexually mature enough to make noise. Again, inexperience got the best of me. Apparently, roosters mature faster than hens. The Hens won’t start to lay before 20 weeks. Our boys are about eight weeks old.

 

The hen to rooster count to date is as follows:

12 roosters, 7 hens, and four undetermined. If the four undetermined turn out to be roos, as I suspect (based on coloration) then my ratio is 70/30, roosters to hens. If the four remaining surprise me, then I end up better than expected.

Lessons learned

Unless I am buying Cornish Cross broilers, buying straight run chicks is not an option for me. I have learned not to rely on the inexperience of store clerks. If I am unsure of a chick’s gender, I will pass on the purchase. Next time, it is either livestock auctions or buying direct from the hatchery. An incubator purchase is in my future. Hatching eggs are the most cost effective way to raise poultry. Stay tuned to see how this all works out.

Chicken Run is Finished

I am so far behind with posting about my chicken run. So here is the update, complete with pictures. As for the chooks, we have four broiler hens that will be processed this weekend. I will cry and be sad to see them go, but it really should not be easy, should it? I like them. They are mellow and easy going. The ladies treat my Romeo well.

The Chicken Run Location
We decided to put the run in the far corner of the yard. This is actually the ideal place for it. We can see the run from our bedroom and the living room. Although it is in a low lying area of the yard, it is also very shady—thanks to our neighbor’s trees. It is not possible to use this space for vegetable gardening and with the roof over the run, it stays pretty dry. Another reason we chose this location is the privacy fence. We can use the fencing for two walls of the run.

There is a downside to this location. My neighbors have dogs. This means the coop will be surrounded on all sides by dogs. Our dogs, with the exception of Romeo are a threat, one neighbor has two dogs, the other has one. The dogs have turned out to be a problem, but more on that in another post.

Building the Run
First, a two by four frame went up so that we could attach cedar fencing to it. This is in addition to the existing fence. We wanted to be sure that no dogs could get through—We were wrong, but that is another post.

City Chicks Chicken Run

The chicken run takes shape

After the two by four frame went up, part of the front was assembled. This consisted of 2, four by four posts. Three, 2 x 4s were attached to this.

A space for the door was left open. Then the rest of the front was assembled with 2, four by four posts, and three, 2 x 4s. The last side along our garden fence was completed.

 

 

 

 

City Chick Goes Country Chicken Run. Copyrighted Image

Fitting the door

A frame for the roof was assembled. We used sheets of corrugated plastic for the roof. It slants away from the neighbors. The roof extends past the frame to make sure the chooks stay dry.

Chicken wire with one inch openings was used to enclose the frame. We stapled the chicken wire to the frame and made sure that there were no openings near the roof where small birds could get in. Wild birds steal the feed and it gets very expensive.

Finally, we purchased an inexpensive screen door and cut it down to fit the opening. We attached it with hinges and added a handle on both sides. A hook and eye type latch keeps the door secure.

 

 

City Chick's Chicken Run. Copyright Lynda Altman

Completed chicken run

About Security
This set up will not work if you have opossum, raccoons, coyotes, feral cats or other at large predators. Our coop is built knowing that our dogs are under control and will not cross into the chicken area. Hawks and other flying predators are kept at bay with the chicken wire and solid roof. My chickens cannot be seen from the air. Small, four-legged critters like opossum, raccoons and such are non-existent in my yard. This includes rats and mice. Our dogs: a Chinese Shar-pei, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, and a Bedlington Terrier, keep everything out of the yard. Privacy fence completely encloses the yard. Trespassers will not enter the yard—the dogs are not stranger friendly. The neighbor’s dogs do their job of keeping vermin at bay.

If you are in a more rural setting and have predators roaming the woods or pastures near your chicken run, then you would need to replace the chicken wire with welded ¼” galvanized wire. The screen door could be replaced with a storm door or you could reinforce the screen with welded wire. Surrounding the run with

electric wire, like Harvey Ussery describes in his book, The Small-Scale Poultry Flock, would be a good idea.

The Chicken Tractor

I could not stand having the little pullets indoors anymore. They were getting too big for their tubs. I was changing the shavings out several times a day because they kept knocking over their waterer. Because they were cramped for space, they were very noisy. Time for the to go outdoors but there was one problem…there was no place for them to go. Solution to the problem—a chicken tractor.

The Chicken Tractor

My husband and youngest son created this amazing chicken tractor. They spent the better part of Mother’s Day afternoon building it. It looks great, it’s functional, and it gets those sweet pullets out of my house. Here are some pictures of the pullets in their new home.

City Chick goes Country's chicken tractor.

The pullets really love their new chicken tractor.

 

 

 

 

 

City Chick goes Country's new chicken tractor.

Another view of the pullets in the chicken tractor. It may take them a while to get used to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Chick goes Country's chicken tractor.

The chicken tractor will be the new home for our pullets until their permanent enclosure is ready.

 

Good thing we bought a tarp to cover the chicks up at night. It’s raining hard—we could see up to four inches before this is over. The chicks have been under the tarp for most of the day.

I was more than ready for those chicks to go outdoors. Finally, I have a normal living room—with 3 college/teenage boys and 4 dogs.

—Lynda; a city chick gone country

Romeo, chickens and the evolution of a backyard turned urban homestead

Copyright City Chick goes Country 2014.. All rights reserved.

Romeo keeping the chickens safe from harm

Romeo never ceases to amaze me. He started out by keeping our Cornish Cross chicks safe from harm. When they moved outdoors he followed them. Now that I allow the chickens to free range with supervision for part of the day, he helps to herd them in and out of the greenhouse. As the chickens forage around the lawn surrounding the greenhouse, Romeo watches and interacts with them. I am not sure if he is being a good farm dog or if he thinks he is a chicken.

 

Chicks round two

We decided that keeping chickens is not particularly difficult. So, the commitment to bring in hen for eggs was made. We searched through many chicken magazines and Storey’s Ilustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds to decide on which chickens would suit our needs.

 

The original plan was to bring in 10 pullets—ideally Black Australorp and Speckled Sussex for eggs and a straight run of New Hampshire reds for meat. Then we saw that Tractor Supply had Black Australorps, Barred Rocks, and Ameraucaunas. All are decent layers. They are supposed to be all pullets.

 

We decided to purchase 24 chicks—eight of each. This was to save on money, it was way cheaper to purchase the chicks here than it was to order from a hatchery. Eventually we would cull out 15 pullets for meat. It would take a while for them to mature. We will call this plan B.

 

Several issues immediately became clear to us. The chicks were in a combined bin which contained Australorps, Barred Rocks, Ameraucauna, and Golden Phoenix. We were not interested in Golden Phoenix because they are an ornamental/show bird. The staff could not tell the chicks apart. We knew that the black chicks had to be either the Barred Rocks or the Black Australorps. The other two looked way to similar to each other and two different employees gave two different opinions as to which ones were which.

 

Now that the new set of chicks have been with us for almost a month, two things are becoming very clear. There are at least two cockerels in the bunch—maybe more. All cockerels will be processed as meat birds as soon as they start to make crowing noises. We are not allowed to keep roosters. The other issue is that the eight supposed Ameraucaunas are looking more and more like Golden Phoenix.

 

So we have come up with plan C. We will cull out any and all cockerels as soon as they reach fryer size—sooner if they start to crow. Golden Phoenix will be next on the list. Hopefully they can get to broiler size, if not, then fryer size it is. The nice thing about chickens is if the meat is tough, it can be stewed or used in pot pies. The carcass and wings make really good stock.

 

Chicks to broilers

Back to the Cornish Cross chickens. I am not sure how Romeo will handle the day when we process the chickens. These are his friends. He will have to be kept indoors while the event takes place. A good farm dog has to learn that livestock comes and goes. I think that Romeo will miss his little white chicken friends. They should be ready to process in about two weeks.

 

He will have another flock to look after. This time around, some of his friends will stay and hopefully provide us with a wonderful supply of fresh eggs. It will be interesting to see how he handles it all. For sure, he is a good dog around the chickens. I never would have thought a Bedlington Terrier would be the dog guarding my chickens.

 

—Lynda

A City Chick gone Country (or crazy depending on who you talk to)

« Older posts