Our homestead is made up of a lot of things but my main love are the chickens. I got my first flock about 10 years ago when we lived in TN. I did my homework and decided on Barred Rock as my choice of chickens. I was telling my friend this and she told me that she knew someone who was hatching barred rocks. So ‘over the mountain’ we went to fetch these baby chicks. Mind you, I’d never touched a chicken before! So I picked out 10 baby chicks. This turned out to be the best decision! I loved it from the first moment I held one of those baby chicks. I ended up with 4 roosters and 6 hens. We ended up having to cull 2 roosters for various reasons but I had that flock until we moved back north. I tried, unsuccessfully a couple of other times to have chickens but it just wasn’t in the cards. Fast forward to Spring 2016 when I ordered 8 chicks from a hatchery. I ordered 3 partridge rocks and 5 barred rocks hens. All was good until this past spring. The girls had some issues (picking on each other). I tried everything but ultimately ended up sending 3 to freezer camp. I know, but this is the harsh reality of animal husbandry. So now we have 2 partridge rocks, Clare E. Clare and Elsie. Honestly I don’t think I would get partridge rocks again. They are so skittish and not very friendly. Although none of this flock is very friendly but I’ll talk about that in a minute. I also have 3 barred rocks, Gertie McGhee, Little Girl, and Pecky McPeckerson. All 5 girls started molting this past fall, as early as September, but some of them didn’t start until the beginning of December. Only Little Girl has started laying again. We also use a lamp in the winter for extra warmth, especially since 2 of the girls haven’t fully grown their feathers yet since the molt.
As for the friendliness of the flock. What can I say? They have been horribly mean to each other. If you look closely, you’ll see the Gertie McGhee doesn’t have feathers on her head. This was from when I had all 8 girls and they were ruthless at bedtime. Thankfully she has regrown those feathers now that she molted. I thought this might be the case, but I was also concerned that she had developed scar tissue and the feathers wouldn’t regrow. I did a lot of research and truly believe these girls are the way they are because they are hatchery grown. The first flock I had was super friendly, even the roosters (with the exception of the first roo to go to freezer camp). The current flock has everything they need, and they get way more free range time than my first flock. Like tons more. The first flock never free ranged! This flock gets to go out all the time and it doesn’t help. They have plenty of room in the coop and in the run. I just really think it’s the hatchery versus farm raised. I don’t mind the hatcheries, I just will not ever buy from them again based on my experience.
Although really what I would like to do is have a rooster and have the hens hatch their own chicks. I think that will help these girls too. But for now this is what we have. And since we don’t really eat a lot of eggs and I have a hard time selling the eggs (it seems I live in an area where everyone has chickens so selling eggs is hard), these girls will be my pets for as long as they can manage to stay alive and behave themselves. We do have lots of predators, although we’ve been diligent and haven’t had any issues, yet. On our predator list: coyotes, foxes, eagles, red tail hawks, among others. I would say bears, but bears don’t want the chickens, they want the food. So I take any food in from the run at night.
Maybe I’ll do another post soon with our coop set up just in case anyone is interested. But for now, here was a very not-so-brief intro to our chickens.
PS In case you are interested, there is a Chicken Selfie Sunday hashtag (#chickenselfiesunday) on Instagram. It is hosted by a fabulous chicken lady, Chickens & Wine. Go check it out. It’s tons of fun!