Learning (late), but learning

U_Stormcrow

Crowing
Jun 7, 2020
1,984
4,391
306
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Wife and I purchased property last year, began a small flock two months ago. At the time, it was four Pekin ducks and eight "rainbow" pullets, all of which I now think are likely New Hampshire Reds, as no other pics closely resemble their medium reddish color, clean yellow legs, and black tipped tails. Only the seemingly white skin and much lesser black markings have me questioning the identification of a few. Last month, added some Cornish rock, four more Pekins, some dark Brahma, and a number of golden comets. Most are doing well, though lost a couple of the second batch the first night (some "failure to thrive", and a single fatal injury). The oldest already free-range happily on most of an acre (though they keep pretty close to the barn at present) in the south eastern sun, spending overnight in a fenced 1,000 sq ft yard with a hen house of about 100 sq foot set over an additionally fenced 150 sq foot run.

While we will enjoy the duck eggs once they are breeding, most of the males are destined for the dinner table.

Expect to deliberately start "allowing" some barnyard mixes many months down the line, reading up now to see which (if any) are expected to have the traits we most desire in a flock, or if I'm venturing into the genetic wilds here, where many have trod but few have documented. Have concerns about the dark brahma and heat, the long term productiveness of the comets, and the sheer speed at which the Cornish (which we already call butterballs) put on weight. But when your only source is an often out of stock local farm store, you can't be too choosy...

COVID-19 shut down most of the local mom & pop farms and nurseries, we are surrounded by commercial breeders (Wayne, Tyson, ConAgra) - no chance of competing with them, and no interest in breeding their chickens or using their methods - its just the wife and I looking for a mix of eggs and meat, willing to sell/trade extras to the neighbors. Adding additional animals (goats) to join the two dogs and expanding the garden as we continue to clear acreage, move furniture out of the barn, and determine what grows here successfully.

Most of the neighbors raise cattle, cotton, or (muscadine) grapes. Local wildlife include a half dozen turkey who visit a couple times weekly, a handful of deer (somewhat more elusive, and spotted singly), wild boar (i assume, a swamp is a quarter mile distant, but we are on much higher ground), mice, and several grey rat snakes. Safe bet we have the usual complement of rattlers and coral snakes as well, but they have proven to be nigh invisible.

Expect mostly to lurk here and read, but may have the occasional query.

/edit to correct the size of my hen house and enclosure. BAD math. Apologies
 
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U_Stormcrow

Crowing
Jun 7, 2020
1,984
4,391
306
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Going to say "Thank You" to all right now - impractical to respond to every welcoming post, but I will absolutely read them all. I've actually been poking around this site for months (in addition to reading a small handful of books, i.e. Storey's Guide, ...for Dummies, etc) before finally registering this morning. Seems to be a great community, albeit one with no small few popping in, requesting breed or pullet/cockerel confirmation, then disappearing, never to confirm or refute the community's well informed speculations.
 

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