My family and I have been raising chickens for about 18 months now and when people ask me why I got into keeping chickens I have to be honest and say fear.Not fear based on the state of our standard food supply here in the US mind you, which would have been a noble thing but rather fear of the unknown.In this case, fear of the duck eggs my husband had selected as the mainstay of our family farm.Because I didn’t know 18 months ago, what I know now, that duck eggs taste just like chicken eggs, I was nervous about switching to duck eggs for all of our family egg eating needs.Worried that my Sunday morning scrambled egg routine was about to be changed forever I was thrilled when a neighbor placed a sign in her yard “chicks 4 sale”.I quickly convinced my husband Jim to buy me 2 pullets so I would be sure my breakfast eggs would be from a hen.Thus our great chicken adventure began!
After our first two chickens were such a hit, everyone just loves their antics, we decided to get more chickens for our growing farm.We knew we wanted egg laying type chickens and that they needed to be cold hardy as it gets below minus 20 here in Northern NY but we weren’t sure what exact breed would best suit our personalities so we decided to get a variety package. We found the information on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy very informative as we selected our chicks. As the chickens have matured it has been fun to watch their different breed traits develop.Each of us has fallen in love with a different breed for different reasons.Showing you that there really is a chicken breed out there for everyone.
|Spike our Buff Orpington Cockerel|
We have Buff Orpingtons which are very shy and gentle.Sometimes they are too shy and you have to watch that they don’t get bullied by the pushier breeds. So far they are one of my favorites.
We have a white Cochin that is a very large bird with feathered feet.She is quiet, except when she is laying at which time she is quite vocal.Our Cochin is very friendly and allows us to pet her.She loves to eat worms but prefers others scratch them up for her.This is my college daughter’s favorite chicken.
We have an Easter Egger chicken which is a mixed breed that lays blue to green eggs.These birds are very independent and dislike confinement the most of all our chickens.They tend to be very curious chickens which can get them into a lot of trouble.We actually lost one of our hens due to her curiosity of the goat barn, she didn’t think about the livestock guardian dog apparently.My teenage son just loves these independent birds.
We have Barred Plymouth Rocks who are laid back but not shy.They’ll come up to you but take time to get used to you to eat out of your hand.
|Shirley our Dominque hen|
We have a Dominique hen.At first it was difficult to tell her apart from the Barred Plymouth Rocks due to her feather color but as their combs grew it became much easier.The Dominique has a rose comb while the Barred Rocks have a single comb.
We have several Australorps which are large black chickens.They have a beautiful green tinge to their feathers and they tend to like other black chickens best.These birds are quiet and easy going.
We have several Rhode Island Red chickens.These girls can be pushy and so you have to watch that they don’t take over the barn yard.Our oldest hen (6 months old) likes taking on the younger roosters (they are only 4 months old).These are my husband’s favorites, of course that could be simply because they are red heads.
We have a speckled Sussex who is very shy and is often by herself while free ranging. We are still learning about our Susie who is only 4 months old so as she matures we’ll see what personality traits develop.
|Ethel our Silver Laced Wyandotte|
We have both silver and gold laced Wyandottes.They are beautiful birds with wonderful feathers.They are a little shy of humans but will stand up for themselves. I find them curious birds as can be seen in the photo Ethel was following me around trying to figure out what the thing I kept pointing at them that made strange sounds was.
We have a couple of white leghorns who are very talkative.The breed is supposed to be shy with humans but ours don’t seem to be. These girls are quite spunky and have no problem coming up to the house to ask for scratch grains or kitchen scraps.
|MJ our Blue Andalusian|
We also have a beautiful Blue Andalusian Rooster. He was supposed to be a she but isn’t, we love him anyway.We’ve talked about getting him a few hens for the springtime but we’ll have to see how the winter goes as the Andalusian is the least cold hardy of our chickens.
Thinking ahead to 2011 we’ve decided to try to hatch our own chicks realizing we had no rooster and hen matching breeding pairs we sought out a local Orpington breeder selling some of her pullets and cockerels and purchased a buff cockerel for our buff hens and a wonderful blue Orpington cockerel and 4 black pullets and 2 splash pullets to pair with him.We’ll be learning about chicken color genetics as well as hatching our own fertile eggs, or so we hope!
|One of our male Guinea|
One last flock member I’ve just got to tell you about. Our Guinea Fowl! They are strange looking birds and they are pretty flighty but I love watching them patrol the yard. Yes they really do patrol as the four of them (we have two males and two females) are always together and if they see something out of the ordinary they put up quite a racket. They also protect the hens that they have been raised with by chasing away any unwanted suitors mainly our new Orpington roosters.