Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

This part of the post is mostly pictures of all the babies on the farm.

Scrappy is really starting to hang out at the house with the big cats and is finally starting to calm down.  Still have to do the ‘sneak and pounce’ if I want a snuggle, but at least ‘he’ doesn’t fight the snuggle.

Princess has finally brought her kittens down out of the barn loft.  She has 2 little ones like this.

This picture was taken upside down, kneeling on some straw and peering under a pile of junk.  She seems to be the shyest of the bunch and wouldn’t come out.  Soon she’ll get brave.

Remember these babies, one short week ago?  Well here they are today.  It’s amazing how fast they grow.

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Chick Update

Checking out our new chickies I discovered that their wing feathers are starting to come in.  They grow up so fast!

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Bit of a busy day today.  Ella and I went skating this morning.  She is doing so much better now that she uses both feet.  Then we headed to Pembroke to go to the Bulk Barn and a few other things.

Colin and Dad are busy combining some more corn.  The meltdown last week cleared enough snow from the field for the combine.  It’s really dry now.  Boy, it sure was throwing heat in the corn stove last night.  Colin should save this corn for when we get cold again in March.

I’ve been busy washing eggs and dishes.  The chickens seem to be picking up production and the new chickens seem to be laying well.  Their eggs are getting much bigger.  Even the new banty eggs are getting up to ‘regular’ size.  This is from two days.

I was just thinking I hadn’t shown you what the new chickens look like now that they aren’t balls of fluff.  This is our rooster.

Yes, I know he looks like a Barred Rock but he isn’t, this what the Harco Black S-x Link rooster is supposed to look like.  He has a much nicer personality than the Chantecler roosters.

And here is one of the ladies.  Some of them are much blacker, but it’s even harder taking pictures of chicken than of children  🙂  As it was I had to take 5 pictures of this one to get one fairly clear picture.

I am seriously considering getting some meat birds this year.  There would certainly be no question about selling the birds, we are always being asked if we have chicken.  What I need to find is the easiest way to raise them.  Colin doesn’t have any more time, so I need to find a method that Ella and I can handle -keeping in mind I’m a city girl and Ella’s 5  🙂  I’m not worried about ‘finishing’ the birds as we have a guy that goes from farm to farm taking care of that end of the process.

Ella’s mountain took a real hit in the mild weather and now it’s too soft to play on, that and she’d be landing in the muddy yard.  But I think we are supposed to be getting more snow in the next few days.  I’m sure she’ll be out climbing mountains in no time.  Hopefully the new snow will be a little wetter and Ella will be able to make a snowman this year.

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Ella and I headed into Renfrew yesterday to pick up our new little chicks.  The local feed mill, M&R Feeds, gets chicks shipped in from Frey’s Hatchery.  We have basically given up on the Chantecler chickens.  If they can’t brood and hatch their own eggs, then they aren’t of any use on our farm.  These new chickens are Harco Black S-x-Link . A rather questionable name, but they sound like just the chickens for us.  They are supposed to be good layers and brooders and good eating in the end.

They are a little bigger than the Chantecler were when we got them last summer.  These chicks are 2 weeks old.  We got 12 hens and a rooster.  We’ll keep them in the summer kitchen for a while and let them get bigger and get over all their travel.

Ella’s very excited to have new chickies out there.

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New Chick

Hurray!!! We finally have a new chick.  Sorry for the blurry picture, it’s hard to get a chick to hold still  🙂  This is a little Banty chick.  Hopefully we will have some company for this little one soon.  This little one hatched while we were sleeping.  Maybe next time we can get some action pictures.

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Colin was out in the barn this morning, walking by the chicken pen.  He stopped because he heard a ‘funny’ sound.  Upon investigating this is what he found:

This is one of the ladies in the maternity ward.  We think the chick is a Chantecler.  It’s hard to say for sure since the Chantecler and the Banty Hens seem to be sitting on whatever eggs they feel like.  Now that the chickens are sitting we can go back to collecting the extra eggs.  Colin hasn’t been going into the coop for a while so he wouldn’t disturb the broody hens.   This hen is one of the Bantys.  We have 3-4 hens sitting on eggs.

This is Ralph.  He’s our Banty rooster.  We’ve had him for a couple years.  We used to let him run loose in the yard.  But when the first winter came, Colin couldn’t catch him and his mate Henrietta.  They were out in the cold for too long, Henrietta froze her feet and died.  We also found out that Bantys let go of their tails when in ‘danger’.  The first time Colin tried to catch them he came in the house with two beautiful tails.  Ralph sure looked funny with no tail.

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Fresh Eggs

This is what a fresh egg looks like.  Notice how high the yolk stands in the white?  And they are nice and bright yellow because we feed corn.  The colour changes some depending on what grain you feed your chickens.  This egg was from our Banty hens, so it’s a little smaller than usual but is still a good example of a fresh egg.

Ella loves when I fry her up the Banty eggs.  They are perfectly ‘Ella size’ and she’ll gobble up two of them, especially when I make them runny for her toast.

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Ok, I thought I had covered everything, but my friend Kimberly has asked a bunch more questions that I’m sure others are asking too.

Do I wash the eggs? Yes.  I know some people feel you should leave the ‘bloom’ on the eggs and have all sorts of claims as to why this is a good idea.  But our chickens lay their eggs where ever they like and the eggs come from the barn with all sorts of ‘stuff’ on them.  I give them a quick wash under running water in order to cut down the chances of spreading e.coli. around.  That and I think it’s disgusting to crack an egg into a recipe that’s covered in poop.

How long to keep fresh eggs?   Are you ready for this -an unbelievably long time, so long that we’ve never had a bad egg.  You may not believe this, but store-bought eggs can be about a year old!!  Yep, you read that right, a year.   I forget which show I saw that on, but it was one of those ‘investigative news-type’ shows that you can trust.  My MIL stores her eggs in the basement (when she gets backed up), it’s cool and they keep for months (if needed).  Remember, in Europe people don’t even refrigerate their eggs, fresh eggs are kept on the counter.  Fresh eggs are in such demand that MIL’s eggs are usually never more than a week old, sales slow a little during the bad weather months.

How soon do they need to be collected?  It depends on the time of year and if you have roosters.  During the winter or without roosters you can actually collect eggs every couple days.  Colin usually goes every day but there have been times he’s forgot.  The chickens aren’t broody during the winter and so the eggs usually aren’t fertilized (not an issue if no rooster) and they just lay around the coop (i.e. not kept warm).  These days when the hens are getting broody and the roosters are doing their ‘duty’ Colin collects every day.  Soon he will let them set on a few eggs (the Chanteclers, likely not the Bantys).  While the weather stays cool, I wash the eggs every couple days and then refrigerate.  Once it gets much warmer, I’ll wash them as soon as they come in.

Blood spot in ‘organic’ store eggs?  I’m not sure whether you can salvage those.  You still don’t know how old the eggs are or whether there was a rooster involved.  If the eggs aren’t yours (or a friends) I would be tempted to toss the blood spots.  I’m much more cavalier with egg safety (eg., eating dough, meringue) but that’s because I know how old the eggs are and the conditions they were harvested under.  I’d be more wary with store-bought.

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Our Chickens

I asked Colin to give me brief instructions on how to raise chickens.  Well, lets just say they were a little too brief.  I’ll try to give some more information here, trying to cover questions that friends have asked before.

First of all, of course is to decide on what breed you want.  Whether you want regular ‘run of the mill’ layers that are available every spring from your local feed mill.  Or do you want fancy, heirloom, rare chickens.  Or chickens some where in between.

We did a bit of research and after losing our Banty hen to the cold last winter, we decided to go with Chantecler chickens.  I was very interested to get an actual Canadian chicken, especially since they have very small wattles and combs and are quite tolerant of the cold.  We weren’t planning on keeping the chickens outside all the time, but I wanted to them to be fairly worry free.  It was hard finding a breeder, especially since last year seemed to be a very bad breeding year – Colin said it was because it was so cold and dim, nothing wanted to grow not even baby chicks.  We finally found some just outside of Fergus so we girls headed off on a road-trip.

Our little chickies were only a day old and so adorable.  They went peep peep peep the whole way home.  We kept the chicks in a large Rubbermaid storage box (about the size of a horse trough).  Wood shavings in the bottom with a large shallow bowl of water and a dish for feed.  You can see the why mesh on top, you would be surprised how far these little guys can jump and flutter.  I know there are a lot of recipes out there for homemade chick feed, but we buy ours at the local feed mill.  I would think the TSC stores would carry it too.  Colin says it’s better just to buy the starter feed instead of dealing with chick death.  The price we paid for these chicks I wasn’t going to risk them unnecessarily.   We buy unmedicated feed because it’s not necessary to medicate healthy chicks.  Being still rather cool, we also had a heat lamp hanging over the box, but not too close.

A few weeks later they got moved out to the barn.  Colin had to put up some smaller fencing in the old chicken coop or they would have escaped.  They were very happy to get to the bigger coop, they are growing very quickly.  Although the pigs give off quite a bit of heat, we still had a heat-lamp in the coop for the little ones.

This is our ‘little chickes’ now.  They are so big and sturdy looking.  I love the brown ones.  The hens are all quite shy.  We have 3 roosters, they are not shy!  We can hear the crowing across the yard.  The one rooster is really trying to get himself into hot water -literally!  The one rooster is very aggressive.  So much so, that I can’t gather eggs any more.  Only Colin goes in. We only fed the starter feed until the bag ran out  🙂  How’s that for precise instructions.  Colin feeds them our corn, usually he grinds it a bit so they can eat it easier.  He says cracked corn can be purchased from your local feed mill, if you don’t grow your own.  He also feeds the chickens oyster shells.  This keeps them from breaking eggs and keeps the egg shells nice and sturdy so I don’t break them.

The barn has lights, and we leave a light on for the chickens so we have eggs all year round -don’t want to buy year old stuff from the store.  This summer (after cropping) I hope to get Colin to build a door in the wall and an outdoor run for the chickens.  I’m not turning them loose because I don’t want to feed the raccoons, coyotes, skunks, and all the other predators!

Oh yeah, just in case you don’t know: you don’t have to have roosters in order to have eggs.  If you don’t have a rooster you really don’t have to be concerned with little blood spots, I just scoop that spot out and use the egg.  But, if you have roosters and it’s getting towards spring and the hens are going broody, you must must must be sure to gather the eggs every day (not a worry in winter).  Colin was busy for a couple days and I got a rather unpleasant surprise when I went to use those eggs.  I threw out nearly a dozen!  Now I candle the eggs before using.  But that is just a spring time problem.

Hope this answers any questions you might have.  If I left anything out, just ask and I’ll find the answers.

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