Have I really not talked about my cross-breed experiment of chickens since January 2011? Well, between my son suddenly getting epilepsy, terrible weather, and so much more, the time has flown by in a blur. Okay, so here's an update.
Latest count of farmette critters on our little 2 acres:
4 mini goats (2 does in milk, 1 buck, 1 wether) (sold 4 goat babies this year)
1 puppy (lab, to be my son's service dog)
69 or so chickens
Yep, you read right. We've gone from 11 chickens to about 69 in just a few short months. Yes we ordered some but many have been hatched from our own eggs. Let's see if I can give the rundown:
Pen #1 (to produce eggs to sell to pay for feed):
Lenny, the rooster, easter egger
Henny Penny, an easter egger hen
4 easter eggers girls we raised from chicks last year (#5 in maternity ward)
2 marans girls
2 leghorns girls
1 bantam egger girl who didn't make the cut to breeding project
1 bantam silkie boy who also didn't make the cut
1 gold star pullet
7 various chicks hatched from our own eggs (all eggers)
Pen #2 (to produce all further birds to butcher):
Stripes, 1 marans roo
3 marans girls
4 black australorp girls we raised from chicks last year
3 chicks from our own eggs, egger/black australorp crosses
19 black australorp (most going to butcher this weekend)
Pen #3 (bantams for cross-breeding project):
17: some little easter eggers and some little blue silkies
Lola, an easter egger we got as a chick in 2010
her 6 chicks hatched from our eggs in July
BB, a bantam rooster who has health problems
2 silkie young roosters
1 black australorp young rooster (cockerel)
1 black australorp pullet
We get between 5 and 8 eggs a day. Each week this increases as the girls get to the point of laying. However, 15 or so of the black australorps in Pen #2 will be "processed" this weekend (for freezing and dehydrating). Also will be selling many of our chicks. We don't want to feed everyone this winter!
As far as the cross-breeding program, now that the little eggers have started laying and we know who's a boy and who's a girl, it's time to separate them. We're building two pens inside the garage, near a doggy door. Probably be done in the next couple of weeks. Egger boys will be in one pen with silkie girls, and silkie boys will be in the other with egger girls. There will be a small "tunnel" to the doggy door that leads to a small 20x20 exercise yard outside. And the exercise run will be surrounded by thorny blackberries (edible landscaping!) to keep predators and nosy neighbors out. The pens will alternate on their days outside.
As soon as one of these girls (either breed) goes broody (wants to hatch eggs), we're going to separate her and give her all the bantam eggs she can handle. 21 days later, we'll have more baby chicks. Crossed! Then we'll watch them all carefully, making notes who was a good mom, who grew up to be a quiet chicken who lays well-formed eggs and often, and so forth.
How are YOUR chicken projects going?
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