January 7, 2010

Summary of 2009 Chicken Experiments

I tried some 'experimenting' with my chickens in 2009.      I found a hatchery selling Austra Whites, which my mom had originally started her flock with, and was a major part of the 'heritage' of my 'handed down' hens I like so well.  So, I ordered chicks of Austra Whites.
     My mom also had a grey rooster of unknown breed as part of her flock, and we have had a great admiration of the grey hens/roosters in the 'handed down' chickens.  And I have had a type of black hen that is very nice.
     I had a few questions:  was the original blue rooster a Blue Andalusian and would that have explained the few greys and blacks, plus the speckled ones we are now getting in the 'handed down' flock?  Are the speckled ones similar at all to the Austra Whites?  For the past 18-20 years, I have kept a 'closed flock'... in that I didn't introduce any new breeds, just kept hatching eggs from my hens.  But prior to that, I had purchased a few chicks from the local feed store, not remembering their breeds, but am guessing by past photos that I had a few Brown Leghorns, and possible Black Stars, etc. etc.  Over the past 18-20 years, I have culled any young fryer that showed traits of the above, but maybe they had some input into our flock.
    So, I decided to try chicks of several breeds, at similar age of chicks hatched from my 'handed-down' flock, and have some fun. 
    I tried Blue Andalusian, and discovered body shape and disposition, as well as feather-growing patterns (I am not sure of the term for this!), were different than our 'handed-down' greys, blacks and speckled.  I tried the Black Australorp and the Black Star, and can be reasonably sure that these are not in the good black hens of mine.
    The Brown Leghorn pullets are nice, and fairly close in temperment and body shape/size.... so some of the good traits in our 'handed-down' flock may have come from a rooster I had 20+ years ago??
     The Austra White did  as expected.... we are very happy with them.  They acted and looked, from the day old chicks to laying pullets, as Mom remembered.
     The Blue Andalusians were okay, but not what we wanted, and so I gave them away a few days ago.
      I lost the Phoenix rooster, and so also gave away the Phoenix pullets.
      I have some young breeding stock of my 'handed-down' greys and blacks.
Here is a photo of my coop in November, before The Fox and culling the Blue Andalusains:
In the front, left is the one Brown Leghorn pullet.  Next roost back, l to r:  2 Austra White pullets, with black legs, one of my grey pullets, and a Blue Andalusian pullet. Behind them:  starting on the right:  my young grey rooster, to his right is the young speckled pullet, and a Austra White with yellow legs. In the back, facing the wall, is the Blue Andalusian rooster, and facing front is the Silver Phoenix rooster.

Doing what they should be doing:  Laying!
In December, I had 48 chickens in the coop, 44 hens, young and old.  Six of the 44 were molting.
All of December, I would gather 24 + eggs one day, and 32+ eggs the next! WOW!
I was feeding them alfalfa hay and wheat, plus the coop was warm and I turned the light on.

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