Thursday, June 16, 2011

So Many Possiblities

It is tough to choose a chicken!  With the decision made to add them to our backyard farm, it was time to dive into some breed research and get those chicks ordered. There are so many pretty birds out there and once I started looking at all the possiblities, I began to wonder, "How is a girl to pick just four?"  If you're thinking of taking on a backyard flock, and are great places to start.  They offer pictures, breed information, and can help you decide what kind of bird will best meet your needs and expectations.  Some birds are better layers than others.  Some are considered "dual purpose" meaning they lay well AND taste good.  Some go broody often, others don't necessarily care to sit on a clutch.  Some are more docile and less flighty (important to consider when children are involved), and some like to talk more than others.  Some lay white eggs, some brown, some even lay pretty pastel colored eggs. Some are large (standard), some are small (bantam), and frankly, some are just downright ugly.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, but really, have you ever seen a Turken?  Google it.  Poor thing.

For our needs, I considered these the three most important chicken characteristics:  quiet, docile, and  handle confinement well.  Somewhere, at some point in time, someone mentioned I look into the Favorelle breed, a very pretty and apparently, very mannerly, bird.  Nah.  That's just not what I pictured when I imagined chickens strutting their stuff out back.  Besides, my husband said feathered legs were way too fancy for poultry.  I immediately decided on a Barred Rock, because they are so striking with their black and white stripes and red combs, and frankly, just so chicken like.  One down.

Next I picked a Buff Orpington because my chicken guru friend, Matt, said they were well-rounded chickens.  Looks plenty well-rounded to me.  Two down.

Black Austrolorps are good layers and apparently very gentle and pet-like.

Lastly, I chose an Easter-Egger, a mutt of a chicken that carries the blue/green egg gene.  Because they are not a true breed, they can come in a variety of colors.  You don't know what you've got until their feathers come in.  I just love surprises!

The chicks will hatch on the 11th of July and ship the same day or the day following.  It is possible to ship them (so long as they are no older than one day and are over-nighted) because prior to hatching, the chicks take-in the last of the nutrient rich yolk.  This sustains them for up to three days.  Many hatcheries only ship chicks in large numbers so that they will be able to share body warmth.  However, I am able to receive only four because included in the box with my chicks will be a long-term heating element.  If all goes as planned, I will get a call from my local post office saying my "peeps" have arrived sometime the 12th - 13th.  Oh, happy day!  Should I send birth announcements???

What kind of chickens do you have or want?  How do you like them?

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