More Chicks

Last week we got new chicks!WP_20160615_06_58_37_ProThis time they went straight into our new brooder rather than a box in our kitchen.  The downside of that is we don’t get to enjoy the baby chicks as much since they are out in the barn.  The upside is no smell or mess in the house!

WP_20160611_17_16_26_ProRyan converted a small room behind our chicken coop into a brooder by cutting out a piece of plywood and adding in a mesh panel to create a window for light and ventilation.

We ended up ordering 25 more Red Broilers. We butchered our Red Broilers from our original batch and had a chance for a side by side taste test between them and the Jumbo Cornish Cross that we butchered a few weeks ago.

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The RB is on the left, the JCC is on the right

I roasted a Jumbo Cornish Cross (JCC) and a Red Broiler (RB) side by side.  Both birds weighed the same at 4 pounds 10 oz.  The RB had larger legs, while the JCC had a wider breast, unsurprisingly.

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RB on the left, JCC on right

We found the RB to have tastier white meat, while the dark meat was a bit chewier, but still good.  Both birds taste delicious, actually, and we knew we couldn’t go wrong with either.  We decided to raise another batch of the RB just because they are so much easier to keep.  They behave like normal chickens, can free range well and don’t need daily moves in the pen like the JCC.  The RB needed about 3 extra weeks to reach the same weight as the JCC.

 

Along with the RB chicks, we ordered some chicken breeds known for winter egg production. Because we are in Minnesota and our winters are so long, cold and dark, making sure we had enough hens to lay during winter was a top priority in our flock, along with above average laying ability and cold hardiness.  We purchased 4 hens each of the following breeds:

Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire Red, Buff Orpington, Black Laced Wyandotte, Delaware, and Easter Eggers. Easter Eggers lay blue and green eggs but are the only breed in the above list that are not known for winter egg production.  They are hybrids who carry the blue egg gene, however, so it’s possible some will be suitable for winter laying.

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Easter Egger chicks

The breeds we currently have that will also lay well in winter are:

 

Speckled Sussex

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On paper, the Speckled Sussex is a very promising breed.  Above average layer, occasional broodiness for hatching chicks, very good meat quality, calm and curious personality, winter layer, and good forager!  What more can man ask of a bird?

 

Black Jersey Giant

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Our roo is getting hefty, but he’s nowhere near full grown yet!

 

Dominique

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The Dominique has been the most friendly breed of chicken on our farm!  One hen in particular, Henrietta, has worked her way into “pet” status.  She’ll sit in our laps around the campfire, “ask” to be held, and stands perfectly still when you reach for her.

 

Buckeye

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Our Buckeyes haven’t been overly friendly and seem content to be left alone.  Unless I see some great rodent control, which is the reason we purchased these pullets, I won’t be continuing them once our hens cease to lay. 

 

We also have Welsummers, however they will not provide eggs in winter and therefore we will likely not replace them or breed them.

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Welsummer rooster

 

We also ordered three more Bourbon Red turkey poults, WP_20160621_14_30_08_Pro

plus our 15 guineas arrived with this shipment as well! WP_20160621_14_33_05_ProThose things are tiny and zip quickly around the brooder!  I had read raising guineas with chickens helps them be less wild so I’m hoping that is the case with ours.  I can’t wait until they are old enough to be released on the farm.  We have lots of wood ticks, among other bugs, for them to feast on.  Even if we never find a single guinea egg or ever eat a guinea, they will have a place on our farm as long as they are eating bugs and ticks.

Becca

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