Speckled Sussex and Cuckoo Marans - my Pest Control Company!

By sbhkma · Feb 27, 2014 ·
  1. sbhkma
    I got chickens last year primarily as pest control, since we were overrun with grasshoppers & scorpions. It had been many years since I'd had chickens and I had forgotten just how entertaining they can be! I did some research and decided I wanted to try SS and Marans, so I found someone local (if you can call a 1 hr drive "local") and went to pick out my girls. They've been such a joy to watch grow up and they definitely earn their keep! When they were about 5 months old, I had started letting them free range for a bit each late afternoon while I watched over them. I saw one of my girls looking at something with great interest...then she dove down into the grass and came up with a small rattlesnake in her mouth. One of my other birds spied it and ran over ..... and stole it, running gleefully away with it to gobble down. I was impressed after I got over my initial shock.

    They all have such different personalities. One of the marans, Annie, aka "don't touch me Annie" is the head hen and she always reminds the others of that fact. She'll come hang out with me but if she even THINKS I'm going to pick her up she squawks at me loudly. She's also a very consistent egg layer and has been from when she first started laying. Then there's Bella, another marans, who was the very last to start laying. She lays the prettiest, darkest, almost round eggs ever! She has the oddest and loudest egg song too. She must be SO proud! My last marans is Groucho.
    She loves to get behind me and pull my ponytail. One of her favorite games. She also regularly lays double yolks and 1/4 lb eggs.

    My speckled sussex, I notice, are much better at foraging and love to forage more than the marans do. They're the first out when I open the run and BOY do they "run" up the hill to the horse paddock! Sophie:
    She's the only one that didn't moult this winter (apparently she's the only one who read the manual that they're not supposed to moult their first year) She loves loves loves people and hay rides. She jumps up on the bale of hay that I put in the wagon to haul out to the horses. She'll also follow you anywhere including the house or car. She has the sweetest personality-always talking and climbing around me when I sit out there. She lays sorta small eggs, but she finally gave up laying in the rose bushes and now lays in the nest box, for which I am SO appreciative! I hated reaching into the roses for her egg.

    Lastly but certainly not least, is Chewie (named for Star Wars' "Chewbacca")
    She is absolutely stunning to look at (now that she's got her feathers back). She moulted really hard this winter-poor thing looked like I plucked her! She's extremely friendly, loves hanging out with the horses more than most anything else (except stealing scorpions and grasshoppers from her sisters). She sings before and after she lays.

    I've had so many folks ask me why on earth I named my chickens. My response is always the same, "they're part of the critter clan-they HAVE to have names!"
    My German Shepherds and my rat terrier get along great with them, protecting them and just hanging out in the yard with them so yes, you really CAN teach an old dog new tricks (one shepherd is 9, the other is 6)
    I'm so glad I got my "Pest Control" chickens. Eggs were only a bonus, but I'm getting 2 dozen a week from these 5 gals. One other little bonus I had not expected is the roadrunner and the wild quail that come hang out with my girls. I can get really close to them, too. It's as if they notice that the chickens aren't afraid, so they take their cue and hang out. The roadrunner has taken to following me out to feed horses. He flies up in a tree and watches, the flies down to follow me back down the hill. The quail hang out in the shade in the summer and drink from the wading pool my chickens get. It's been a great adventure so far!

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  1. sbhkma
    If you look at my profile, you'll see a picture of him with my German Shepherds. That's his "white side". His other side looks like a holstein pattern LOL. He's a standard, at 18 inches and 24 lbs. My shepherds are both over 100lbs and the ratty holds his own playing with them just fine :) Here is a video of them playing "chase me":
  2. jerrey
    really enjoyed your story we also have a rat terrier could you send a picture
  3. sbhkma
    Thanks for all the nice comments. I have to agree.. they're a very nice flock and I adore them :)
  4. cluck cluck 123
    nice!!!!!!!! I love your birds!!!!!
  5. GNRMorgans
    Congratulations! Your flock sounds and looks amazing!! Grasshoppers and Scorpions and Rattlesnakes...Oh My!
  6. BantamFan4Life
    Nice!! Your hens are absolutely gorgeous. :)
  7. sbhkma
    You will LOVE them! Such friendly, talkative birds. Sophie is speckled too, but not nearly as much as Chewie. The cuckoo marans are very pretty too- they have lovely peacock-type coloring on their feathers. When the sun hits it just right, it looks green and purple.
  8. N F C
    Gorgeous! We're getting 4 of these plus a few others in April so your post was timely. Great post and congratulations on Picture of the Week!
  9. chickenlver2013
    I bought 6 Speckled Sussex chicks from Tractor Supply and I didn't know that they were going to turn out to look like Chewie. Oh, I can not wait. The Sussex is beautiful!
  10. chickenpooplady
    Beautiful flock! Congrats on Picture of the Week!
  11. Chickmagnet9
    I loved your post! You do have some very pretty ladies. I too, have a Shepherd, Jude and did have a JRT (rip, Jake). They were completely fine with my girls until I tried to give one of them attention and then they would give a quick pounce not on but beside them just to psych the ladies out. I know it isn't nice and I did correct the boys but dangit, it was funny. Now I still have my Shepherd and a new boy, August, who is a Husky/Malamute mix. He's 15 months and has the drive for prey. We work with him on it every day. He's ok in the pen with them as long as we are with them. He is NOT ok, when I let them out each day and they go running out the gate into the yard to play and eat. That boy is going to turn me more grey then I already am. YES, it can be done and I am determined those girls will be pecking on him in the yard in no time.
  12. sbhkma
    wow.. thanks! Chewie will be SO proud! (like she needs anything ELSE to be proud of LOL )
  13. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations, we've chosen one of your chicken pics for the Chicken Picture Of the Week. Thanks for posting your chickens to our "My Chickens" pages! You can find more info about our POW here: BYC POW process
  14. sbhkma
    If they get bit, it doesn't seem to bother them. I'd read that they're actually hard for things like snakes and scorpions to bite because of their scaly legs and thick feathers. I've never seen them go after larger snakes-that's MY job (with my .410). I watched one of them snag a hornet out of midair even! They love scorpions. I've seem them grab garter snakes too. But they won't touch those black fuzzy caterpillars.
  15. crazyfeathers
    Excellent post! Scorpions and rattle snakes wow the chickens don't get bit?

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