Friday, May 15, 2009

More Chicks

A good friend had some chicken eggs hatched. She crossed a purebred Arucana rooster with Rhode Island Red hens. The Arucana chickens lay blue eggs, but they don't lay very well. The Rhodies lay brown eggs and lay very well. The cross should lay blue-green eggs (hopefully more blue than green) and should lay fairly well.

This Arucana/Rhode Island Red chick was born on Monday night.
S/he's got 3 sisters (we hope they are sisters!)

Vet2Be and I went to a class about genetics a few years ago and learned that the first generation cross between two breeds will produce better than the purebred animal would. So, if you cross two milk goats, or two fleece sheep, or two chickens the resulting children should produce a better product (milk, fleece, or eggs) than the parents. These hens (we hope they are hens) should lay well and have some beautiful eggs. I love opening the box of eggs and seeing different colors in it! Green, brown, and white. It brings a smile to my face to see all the colors!

So we got 4 straight run chicks! Straight run means that we have no idea if they are hens or roosters. The roosters will go back to the friends house because she processes roosters and old hens for dog food. We like that because we feel the life of the animal was put to good use to feed someone else.

Here are the four new chicks in their temporary brooder.
They will be moved to the barn sometime today.

The chicks are peeping in the house right now because we have other 'birds' in the plastic totes in the barn. We also have house cats, so this is how we solved the problem of keeping the new chicks safe.

Here is the makeshift 'brooder'

Since we have cats, we also needed a way to keep them out of the box. I cut a piece of screening and laid it over the top of the box. I secured the corners with binder clips. They hold the screen closed as well as give the makeshift lid a bit of weight. The binder clips make it very easy to get into the box to feed and water the chicks. The chicks also have plenty of air with the screen on top, too.

The makeshift brooder has an old heating pad underneath one end. It is set at the lowest setting. The new heating pads all have a 'safety feature'... they shut off after 10 minutes or so. That won't work for a brood box, the chicks (or whatever type of poultry we are raising) need a constant source of heat. If you want to try this, make sure you use an old heating pad that doesn't turn off after 10 minutes with a good electrical cord.

We have two Ameraucana chicks that are about a month old, and these four mixed breed chicks so we should have some good colored egg layers sometime this fall. Chickens will usually be 20 weeks old before they lay. In our experience, they have been closer to 24 weeks before they start to lay eggs.

No, chickens do not need a rooster in order to lay eggs. There is no nutritional difference between colored eggs and white eggs, they just look fun in the box. Home-grown eggs do taste much better, must be all the bugs the chickens get to eat :o)


Busy Grandma Elsie said...

My granddaughter who loves animals need to see this post . She is a 9 year old twin ( brother )
My parents used to have Rhode Island Red chickens too.
I love reading your blog & will show my granddaughter one day when she is here..
Elsie <>,

TJ said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying all our adventures! Lots of work, but always worth it.

Hopefully my blog will help someone who is just getting started, or someone who wants to get started but isn't sure where to start.