January 7, 2010

Austra White -- 1/10

Final Report on Austra White -- January 2010:
The Austra White chickens were great! I can only praise and highly recommend them!
They have no flighty-ness, and are wonderful foragers and live well with other chickens, even in crowded conditions. They have taken the cold VERY well, and have laid VERY well.
They matured early, and began to lay at 3 months of age. The roosters were okay for butchering... light as expected for a hybrid cross including White Leghorn, but very acceptable.
     The roosters matured VERY VERY early, and began to crow and look for hens at 2 months of age. This is the only 'fault' I can find... because it is a fault. The roosters began to hunt for hens, harass any hen they found, and in general caused quite a 'ruckus'. I began to butcher the 'cull' roosters at 2 1/2 months of age, and they were light, as expected for that age and the breed. I saved two roosters until 4 months of age, when I chose one to keep and one to butcher, and at that age, the butchered one produced a nice well-meated body. Next year, I will simply have a seperate pen for the Austra White males... and I am expecting them to gain a bit quicker, when they don't have the opportunity to range 'hen-hunting'.
     I read somewhere that Leghorn meat tastes differently than the meat breeds'..... and in comparing notes/fried chicken with my sister-in-laws', who have Buff Orphingtons and Light Brahmas, as well as Cornish Rocks.... we have to agree that is very much true! When someone says: oh, I remember farm fried chicken... it tasted so good, we are betting they remember eating a 'egg-laying' breed, and are comparing that flavor to the flavor of the commerically produced 'meat-breed' chicken. There is a difference... hard to describe, but we generally summarized it as: leghorns crosses have a bit more 'dark' meat, and that flavor while the meat breeds have larger white meat portions, and generally all their flesh tastes a bit more like white meat. I definitely found I preferred fried chicken from my old 'heritage' flock or the Austra Whites/Brown Leghorns over the Orphingtons/Brahmas/Black Australorp.
    The hens began to lay early, and have laid very reliably since.  The eggs remained small, pullet-sized for a bit longer than my old 'heritage' greys.
    The Austra White chickens were not 'pets'... they didn't want to follow me back to the house, yet they would come greet me if they thought I was carrying the scrap bucket.  In the coop this winter, they have been very vocal, greeting me with a low clucking and talking as I clean the coop, etc.  They come to look at my overshoes, and see if there is any bits of hay to pick.
   Overall, these Austra White chickens are just what I want!  :)
    I received chicks from two hatcheries.  One hatchery sent chicks with pullets/black legs and scattered black feathers and roosters/yellow legs and all white feathers.  The other hatchery sent chicks with pullets/yellow legs and a few small black feathers ... roosters/yellow legs and all white feathers.  From all I can read and learn from growers... the 'breed' is actually a 'hybrid cross'... and the chicks with the black legged females were either a first cross or close to the first cross.  The chicks with the yellow legs were from a flock some generations from the original mating of a White Leghorn female and a Black Australorp male. Or maybe they were a mating the opposite way???? White Leghorn male and a Black Australorp hen???
      I am not sure what I will get from mating an Austra White with an Austra White.
     The hens in front of the rooster and at the very front/bottom of the photo are the yellow-legged hens.  The rooster is from the first batch of chicks.

The two white hens in this photo are Austra Whites from the first batch.  The grey hen is one of my 'heritage' greys.

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