The Big Girls are Moving up in the World!
I admit this year has been CRAZY and we have not had the time to do a lot of things in the right time span. For instance we JUST completed upgrading the big girl’s run. Thank God it didn’t snow! The previous one had suffered damage from the snow last year and we needed to upgrade it anyway. Some had taken to plucking each other and although Blue Kote is wonderful it only worked through the warmer months. So it was back to an old solution – giving them more space. In addition I wanted a coop I could drive my little snow blower into so I wouldn’t have to shovel them out this year! So we ended up with a run that’s 6 feet tall instead of 4 and has 300 some odd square feet of space. That’s 2.5 times the space for less chickens then I had initially.
I also took the time to introduce the four newbies to the flock. I hatched a pair of Barnevelders and a pair of Cuckoo Marans earlier on this year from shipping eggs. The Barnevelders look just like my Cornish and despite the fact they’re not supposed to be the bantam variety they are smaller than my two Cornish girls. If they are Barnevelders they are a piss poor example of what the breed is supposed to be but as long as the hen lays me some nice eggs I am not going to complain. The Golden Cuckoo Maran pair I was going to use to hatch some autosexing chicks out in the Spring. I’ll keep some pullets and then hatch another batch for sale. Maybe $4-5 for day old pullets and $1 for roosters. We’ll see how it goes. I must say my rooster is ALL LEGS and has a quirky personality. I’m not displeased.
In the mean while I am working on getting the Seramas set up better and have started building them indoor cages. They’ll be wintering in a heated shed for a couple reasons. One is I felt bad for them, they seemed to be fairing miserably in the cold, and the second is this allows me to set them up in respective pairs and trios so I can sell chicks and hatching eggs to whoever wants them. I have one silkied pair who are reaching maturity now and already have a waiting list for their chicks! I think next weekend is going to be the big day when they all get their new cages so you’ll see a big update then. I hope to have photos of each trio and pair and make them a nice website soon. I am loving the little beasties – well, except for two of them. I have two frizzled roosters who came to me as shipping eggs. They think they are sharks. Despite being gorgeous I have not been able to get rid of them for FREE because of this attitude problem! I obviously don’t want them to breed – what if they pass that horrible temperament down??
And in the meantime I have been left with some decisions to make. In June my big girls will be two years old and they are already showing signs of “burn out.” It will be time to move them out and move in fresher blood, of course the optimum time to do that is hatch some new chicks 6 months prior to that so they’ll be laying by the time I get rid of the original flock. I think I will try to get rid of them for free or cheap to someone who is just starting and only wants a couple chickens as they will still be laying eggs, just not likely to be every day. So what does that mean for the future? What will I be getting to hatch? Well I did have my heart set on Beilfelders… They’re a large autosexing breed that the Germans created by mixing two American breeds (Barred Rocks and Rhode Island Reds.) They are supposed to be cold hearty, dual purpose, brown egg laying machines. But there are two problems – one they were only imported to the states a few years ago so a dozen hatching eggs can easily run $80-100 (and that’s not including the shipping!) And since they are from the classic breeds, one of which I already have here, they have the same issue as they do – feed. I am paying a LOT to keep these fat chickens fat! Their feed ratio is terrible. So… I was looking at some Dutch breeds and fell in love with Brabanters. Small, easy on the feed bill, cold hearty, and fantastic produces of large white eggs. I am HOPING to find someone to sell me a dozen eggs for less than the $80 I’ve been seeing. They’re also perfect in the sense they’re named after the providence my boyfriend grew up in (which started my fascination with Dutch breeds in the first place.) If I do go that route this will be the first white egg I’ve ever eaten though! The only time I ever remember buying white eggs was to dye at Easter when I was a wee one. Birds that live in the cold climates tend to lay brown eggs and New England is no exception. We use Production Reds on the large egg farms whereas White Leghorns tend to be the dominant egg layers in the Southern states, producing white eggs. Anyway, here’s a photo of someone’s Brabanter. How cute is it?!