Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Chicks 2014

We got chicks again this year. The older hens are 3 or more years old. They didn't lay through the winter so we got rid of most of them. A few were processed and many went to a woman who brings them to ranchers in the spring. Apparently there are ranchers and hobby farms that want older hens and ducks in their pastures to eat the bugs. They don't want to feed them much, they don't want to pay much for them, and they don't care if they get eggs.

We got new chicks on February 21. I wanted some cochins because they are so gentle and easy-going. They aren't great layers, but I'm not interested in having White Leghorns unless someone gives them to us. They are too excitable!

Our little flock includes 4 Buff Cochins, 4 Plymouth Rocks (or Barred Rocks), 4 Amerucaunas, and 3 Blue Silkies. There were 4 Silkies, but one died.

We've still got our Roo that's a mix of Arucana and I don't know what else, and 4 older hens that started laying now that spring is here. One is an Arucana so we get blue eggs, one is a mixed Arucana and she lays an olive colored egg, one Buff Orpington, and one Rhode Island Red.

Our Buff Cochins. Vet2Be said he likes this bird because they are so calm and easy to catch and put into the coop. We usually find them under the coop at bed-time instead of inside the coop.

One of the Barred Rocks. She's a pretty bird!
When they all start laying this fall we will have enough eggs to feed our little family, plus Blondie and her husband; and Spunky, her husband, and their son.

I turned into an 'egg snob' after having chickens. I have a hard time eating store bought eggs now. The fresh ones that have been raised on pasture taste so much better!

Just a side note on what free-range means:

In the United States, USDA free range regulations currently apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside.

The term "free range" is mainly used as a marketing term rather than a husbandry term, meaning something on the order of, "low stocking density," "pasture-raised," "grass-fed," "old-fashioned," "humanely raised," etc.

There have been proposals to regulate by the USDA the labeling of products as free range within the United States. As of now what constitutes raising an animal free range is entirely decided by the producer of that product. (Wikipedia)

When you buy 'free-range' chicken eggs in the store, you may not be getting what you think you are getting.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kidding 2014

We only bred two goats out of four this year, Annie and Sandy.

Clover is at least 12, so we didn't want to chance loosing her. It would be hard on her to have kids this late in life.

Misty was so sick from mastitis last year that we wanted to give her a year break before we bred her again. We'll breed her this fall. She only has half an udder, so she only gives about 3 lbs (1 1/2 quarts) of milk each day.

Annie kidded on April 8 this year. She had a beautiful buckling that is healthy and strong. She also had a still-born doeling. We have no idea what happened. There was no decay, so it hadn't been dead long.

He was disbudded on April 14th so he's not as cute now as he was right after he was born.
Annie is giving almost a gallon a day. She's healthy and strong and doing well, as always. She's been one of our most reliable goats.

Sandy should kid out the end of May. We're not sure exactly what date she was bred, so we're just guessing by how she looks. Not very good animal husbandry on our part, but sometimes other things get in the way of writing things down when we should.

If you have any name suggestions for the buckling, please leave it in the comments section!