Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chicken World News

After last year's devastating losses the flock at Jordan's Croft at last has some good news. There are 22 new chicks from the incubator and 6 Buff Brahamas. Brahamas are known for their feathered feet and round bodies. I think of them as hobbit chickens.

 This is a nice Buff Brahama hen. Below is the rooster of the same breed. Pretty aren't they?

I was looking for a pretty chicken to paint.

I'd like to start painting again – so I wanted a pretty bird that wasn't zebra striped.

Another 24 eggs are due to hatch in 15 days. Since the last hatch was successful – it is likely this one will be as well. Only there'll be some cross-bred chicks – Rhode Island Red hens crossed with Mickey Finn – a cross-bred himself.

As soon as those eggs hatch I'm going to refill the incubator again. I haven't gone chicken crazy – I'm going to sell the youngsters at the farmer's market, keeping the largest hens for myself – and the prettiest for painting. Believe it or not – there is a huge market for chickens. People are looking for pretty hens for the back yard. I'm going to enjoy raising a slew of chicks.

These chicks are very tame; they come to me, perch on my hands and nip my fingers. I'm handling them daily, to keep them friendly. The balance of the chick-flock has already been transferred to Chicken World. They run and scratch inside all day and night. During the day they venture outside a bit – but the mud isn't any fun to scratch in. They like the thick bedding inside.

Things I wonder about –

I know very little about chicken genetics. I wanted to stick to one breed – but the Dominique breed didn't do very well here. The hens laid a nice amount of eggs – but didn't go broody until Smudge was 3 years old. The Barred Rocks I bought as Dominiques thrived – until the varmint killed them. The remnant of the flock could be called Dominiker as they are crossed between the Rocks and the Dominiques. These are what I'm going to stay with – at least until I get a better idea.

Mickey Finn is a Dominiker – a cross bred – the last two hens are also cross-bred. There is something called 'hybrid vigor' that occurs during cross-breeding. The offspring are more vigorous than either purebred parent. That's why there are so many cross-bred chickens – so what do you get when you cross two cross-bred chicken parents?

I'm going to try to get some more pictures and maybe some video of the chicks.


Jean Davis said...

Hobbit chickens. Ha! I love it. They are pretty.

Keep us posted on those double crossed chicks. Maybe you'll be on to the perfect chicken to paint.

Ms Kitty said...

I put the 'hobbit' chickens in Chicken World with the rest of the chicks. So far they preferred to stay in the warmer part instead of exploring. But that's why I have the big brooder in the first place.

I'm looking forward to seeing how they do - they are pretty birds.

I shall have to give them 'Hobbit' names. LOL

Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer said...

I like them. And yes, hybrids of any species of animal definitely are heartier than purebreds. It's not that hybrids get more strength but rather that "purebreds" lack natural selection's variety. It's Darwinian, what he called "survival of the fittest." It wasn't about anything going extinct or one species or genus killing off another, it was about variation of traits making a species stronger from one generation to the next and how the introduction of new traits forces the new generation to "adapt" and remain "flexible" to its environment. Flexibility and the ability to adapt are how animals survive. Becoming specialized or "purebred" is how animals develop genetic disorders--like dogs with smushed faces who cannot breath or run like a normal canine because we humans decided to alter a canine skeletal design in an unnatural and non-adaptable way. I find those dogs and cats to be examples of human cruelty to the species overall. We have no right to manipulate lower species into genetic disorders and call it "cute." Yet they actually give awards for "cuteness" of smushed faces on animals gasping for air. It's horrific if you actually step back and look at it from a genetic level.

Ms Kitty said...

Yes, the things we humans have done to dogs is beyond rational.

For chickens, certain traits are bred out 'broodiness,' meaning the willingness to set and care for eggs and a clutch of chicks - has been bred out of hens since the incubator was invented.

Which is why the Moscovy ducks hatch chicken eggs better than the hens. Ducks hatch chicken eggs regularly, but not the other way around.

Just to make things even stranger - Mickey Finn - the rooster was raised by Smudge - who also raised his daddy Sony. Mickey's sister - Patty was hatched by a duck and raised by Smudge. I also used Patty as a 'big sister' to a clutch of youngsters hatched late in the season.

So, in a way, Patty has been 'trained' as well as bred, to go broody. Which she did - already. Smudge always waited until June to go broody.

I've got an incubator full of eggs due to hatch in mid-May. I think I can trick Patty into raising the chicks. It's not hard to trick a chicken - they are the origin of the saying 'dumb cluck' - which ought to tell you something.

I'm looking forward into getting some really pretty red hens from those eggs. (Ever heard the saying 'don't count your chickens before their hatched'? You'll never guess where that one came from!)

The hobbit chicks didn't do very well in Chicken World - the weather turned cold and rainy. I put them back in the tack room where the temperature is more controlled.

I'll give them another week to grow. It is possible that since they are hatchery chicks, they aren't as hardy. Barred Rocks are some hardy birds - scrappy too.