Expanding the Chicken Flock
A new group of chicks arrived last week! We were very excited to welcome twelve new baby hens to the farm. I ordered these chickens from a hatchery to expand our flock, which had been decimated by predator attacks at our old home.
In the Fall of 2015 we had fourteen chickens, including two roosters. By Spring 2016 we had only five hens, despite going so far as to keep our chickens locked in their coop for the last month before moving. It was a sad and extreme situation, but (touch wood) we haven't had any problems since our move! Our pen is more secure, we are home and busy around the farm all the time, which must help to keep potential threats away.
With a safer coop, it was time to grow the flock so we can start collecting more eggs again. And, true to fashion, we had to get some unusual and showy breeds so the flock would be a delight to the eyes as well. Along with an assortment of four "rare breeds" selected by the hatchery, we ordered the following chickens:
Australorp - This breed was developed in Australia from the older English Orpington. A heavy breed that's typically black in color, Australorps are great egg layers and one historical hen laid a total of 364 eggs in a 365 day calendar year. Friendly and kind, they're a favorite of many backyard chicken keepers.
Silver and Golden Laced Wyandotte - We got two types of Wyandottes, a new breed on the farm. Heavy-weight with beautiful rose combs, the two breeds we selected have distinct "lacing" in their feathers that give them a truly unique appearance. Also exceptional egg layers, Wyandottes are known for their thick feathering.
Speckled Sussex - An ancient breed of chicken, it is said that the Sussex dates its heritage back to the Roman conquest of England. In the United States, they're most common in the splashy Speckled variety. Docile and heavy weight, they're very hardy and good egg layers.
Salmon Favorolles - A breed that has intrigued me for years, Favorolles are easily recognized by their large beards and muffs, and their feathery toes. Originally from France, they are heavy, ornamental breeds that come in a pale pinkish color. Once again, this is a breed known for its docile behavior.
Easter Egger - We are finally adding a tinted egg layer to our group! In addition to white, brown, and the chocolate of our Marans hen, our new Easter Egger will lay either pale blue or green eggs. With a fluffy beard and sweet disposition, Easters Egger are specially bred for their colored eggs but they are different from an Ameraucana or Araucana.
Partridge Cochin - Cochins are a favorite breed of mine. Smaller, with fluffy feet and feathers that puff out to make their bodies look bigger than they actually are, Cochins are noted for their sweetness. They make decent egg layers and great mothers, and this type will have beautiful mottled feathers.
Exchequer Leghorn - This variety of Leghorn was developed in Scotland by a chicken enthusiast. They remind one of a checkers board, with black and white feathering. Like all Leghorns they are high energy, excellent egg layers.
Our variety of four more "rare" breeds has me intrigued and trying to figure out what we have. One, at least, is a White Sultan, a breed known for their beautiful and "froofy" feathers.
These chicks all came from My Pet Chicken, which gave me easily the best experience ordering chicks that I have ever had. Orders from other hatcheries always include fatalities, and this year we had not a single loss. Happy, healthy chicks make for a happy farmer, and hopefully plenty of eggs down the line!
We are also picking up a few more chickens, young adults, this weekend. While we ordered all females, this group will include a cockerel or two to give us a morning alarm clock.