Year end (almost) review of my chicken keeping experience

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by MacTech, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. MacTech

    MacTech Chillin' With My Peeps

    So, in a few months, it'll officially be a year back in the Backyard Chicken keeping thing, so I decided to do sort of a retrospective/year in review....thing...

    I started with five chicks;
    3 Buff Orpingtons
    1 Easter Egger
    2 Partridge Plymouth Rocks

    a few months later, once the hens were old enough to go out on their own, we added a pair of nestmate roosters to the flock

    since then, i've had the following losses;

    1 BO lost to, most likely, a racoons
    1 PPR to a particularly nasty neuromuscular disease that rapidly paralyzed her legs and caused numerous seziures

    I'm now down to;

    2 BO
    1 EE
    1 PPR
    2 roosters (one Cochin/Silkie mix, one pure bantam Cochin)

    I originally wanted just Heritage breeds, but the EE and her mint green eggs were too hard to resist, she's not a purebred strain, however, I'm glad I added her

    BO; sweet, freindly (just don't like being picked up) goofy balls of feathers, not very vocal, watching their waddling, trundling run as they run to greet me in hopes I have treats always brings a smile to my face, amazing free-rangers
    PPR; very independent, flighty, excellent free-ranger, good eye for airborne predators, extremely chatty, *hates* being picked up, usually the first one out to free-range in the morning
    EE; a great balanced personality, curious, inquisitive, excellent free-ranger, freindly, but on her terms, try to pick her up, or pet her, and she'll do her best to avoid you, but when she *wants* attention, she will come up to you and demand it, she seems to be the most spatially aware of the flock, she *knows* the Bringer Of Food lives in that huge white chicken coop next to hers, and she's the only one to actually approach the sunroom when people are sitting in it , she will peck at the glass sliding door and demand to be let in.... when i bring them their water and my boots are covered with snow, she prefers to eat the snow off my boots, instead of from the run area a few feet away, when im pouring the water into their fount, she'll drink from the stream of water coming out of the jug I'm pouring from... of the whole flock, she comes the closest to having a human-like intelligence

    the entire flock laughs at winter, they've handled subzero temps with aplomb, no frostbite, they're a bit bored with being confined to their barn, the door is open and they can go out, they just choose to stay in the barn, there's nothing to free range on anyway, unless they want to eat snow, or snow, or maybe snow, and if they don't like that, there's snow... and with flats covered with 4', and drifts up to 7'.....

    Egg Production;
    BO; medium to large eggs, pinkish-brown, average to poor production and inconsistent size, 3-4 per week
    PPR; medium to large eggs, light brown, average production, 4 per week
    EE; Large to XL eggs, mint green, excellent production 5-6 per week

    Right now, Chiana, my EE is outproducing all of the other hens, I can pretty much rely on her producing an egg almost every day, and they're *always* consistently the biggest eggs produced, the BO and PPR hens are producing on the smaller side of medium, and less reliably

    Had I know now what I knew then, I would have gotten more EE'rs, and perhaps one BO and PPR

    since I'm going to need to replace the two hens that I lost last season, I'm going to get some more EE'rs, and perhaps a couple "interesting" hens like Wyandottes or Salmon Faveroles (just runnin' round the rooster here...)

    Dover Agway is going to have EE and Golden Comets as their early orders, they are getting SF, but near the end of the ordering season, and they're going to be twice as expensive

    I also don't want to overcrowd the flock in the barn, so no more than eight hens

    ...of course, the other alternative is to buy or rent an incubator and hatch some of my own eggs to get my replacements, the downsides are, more potential roosters, and if I do hatch hens, the roosters are probably going to try mating with their "daughters", and that's probably not good, genetically, the upside is, once i've paid for the incubator, any further chick hatchings will be "free", but given the price of an incubator (lets say $100), I'd have to hatch 25 chicks to get my moneys worth (at a rounded price of $4 per chick)

    assuming a 50% male/female rate (a perfect male/female split ratio is not logically possible, but for the sake of argument I'll let it stand), if I hatched 26 chicks, I'd have to find some way of re-homing 13, or sending them to Freezer Camp

    13 additional mouths to feed would also require more frequent purchasing of feed, changing the bedding sooner, more chances of inter-flock troubles, possible "Incest" issues with the roosters, and more competition for free-range goodies

    I'd love to hatch my own, but it seems impractical, sad, as I'd love to see what a Bantam Cochin/Easter egger or Cochin/Silkie/Easter Egger mix would look like...
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    You would end up with MUTTS, just like my flock. AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.
    I LIKE YOUR YEAR IN REVIEW POSTING. Sounds like you learned a lot. You gave a great description of your chickens' temperament. Helpful to those considering these breeds. I think your chicks' egg production is where it should be. (my opinion only) .... If you want total egg machines , then opt for leghorns, or production reds, and other sex links. If you want variety for ornamental purposes, then consider BANTAMS. Weak on the egg production, but can you put a price on happiness and enjoyment. I keep my chicks for pets only. I will eat the eggs, but it is not that important to me. When I had extra, I just gave eggs away to neighbor. He thought he was blessed and keeps telling me how tasty they are. I still cant differentiate the taste from the ones from store. Maybe its just me.!!! I can defiantly see the difference in the color of the yolk. Store is yellow. My yolks have a darker orange tone. My chickens eat natural.
    I agree with your attitude not wanting to overcrowd your flock. Easy to fall into such a trap. I would like to have one of each breed myself. I do hold myself back. LOL. Now, to getting an incubator and hatching out your own.... I agree with you that it can cause headaches. 1) you get too many chicks. 2) what to do with the roos. When operating small scale, it is often better to lay out a few extra coins and avoid additional work for self.
  3. MacTech

    MacTech Chillin' With My Peeps

    I too like "mutts", after all, Tribble, my Cochin/Silkie mix rooster is an absolute riot, his personality is, oh I totally forgot to rate the Roos...

    For such an amusingly fluffy ball of fuzz, he sure is *serious*, he's slightly smaller than his brother, Raven, but he's all business, he starts the daily crow-off, he's the alpha of the two, however, his serious demeanor is offset by his hilarious appearance

    He's pure Cochin, he's bigger than Tribble, and.......he's the most timid of the two, everything scares him, he gets bullied by both Tribble and the hens, however, he's the best flier I've ever seen, he's naturally aerodynamic, and fast, combine that with his timid nature, and his response to any "danger" is to "Fly Away!!! Fly Away!!!!

    Neither one show any agression towards people, but neither do they boss the hens around, but since they were added *after* the hens established their pecking order, that's not surprising, they are still doing their rooster duty with the hens though, as most of the eggs appear fertile when I go to cook them

    As far as wondering what the offspring would look like, I just wonder which traits would be dominant and which would be recessive...
  4. Honey B

    Honey B Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 1, 2015
    Entertaining year end review! Thanks for sharing your insights.
  5. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 6, 2014
    Melrose Park Illinois
    KUDOS ON THE MUTTS. My dogs are mutts. my cats are mutts. and I think my pigeons are mutts. Why you ask???? They are supposed to be homing pigeons and all but 2 ran away. I am talking offspring born in my loft. Then I took the DNA test from 23 and me.. Turns out I am also a MUTT.

    So lets hear it for the MUTTS[​IMG]
  6. MacTech

    MacTech Chillin' With My Peeps

    I've been perusing the Easter Egger club thread, and I'm constantly amazed by the variety of colors and patterning of the EE "mutt", the variety seems infinite, what's not to love?

    I had gotten used to Chiana as my benchmark for EE appearances, and totally forgot about the beards and fluff they typically have on their faces, Chiana looks more like a Welsummer with gray-green eggs, and her eggs have slight tint variations from mint to olive green

    I'm definitely going to add more EE to the flock, I love the mystery of not knowing what traits/colors will show...

    Plus, there's that "hybrid vigor" thing too...
  7. MacTech

    MacTech Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chiana is easily THE most reliable hen of my four layers, here's the proof

    Those eggs range from 1/31/15 to 2/25/15, and the other hens stopped laying on 2/6, ever since then, all the eggs have been Chiana's, and yes, her eggs do vary slightly in color

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