Let's Talk Chickens!

Jumping off from a meander in the Venting thread in Off Topic…

Who has chickens? What kinds? What do you do with them?

Brought from the other thread.

I have one EE that lays a very light greenish blue egg. I would describe them as the size of a typical grocery store large egg, on the smaller side of that, but that. She is not yet a year old so they might get larger.

I too bought hatchery mix of colored layers. It is a fun mix of girls.

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EEs themselves are somewhat small chickens. I had a couple briefly and didn’t like them, they were super flighty. Now I have 5 blue/green egg laying chickens by accident. I went to the farm store this spring to get some Cinnamon Queens (red sexlinks) and they looked like they should, but once they started laying I knew something was wrong since they’re supposed to be production brown egg layers and all the eggs were blue! Turns out there’s a new “breed” called Starlight Easter Eggers (I think) and they’re a blue egg laying red sexlink. I wondered why they were so skittish when my previous Cinnamons were super friendly. I also have three Sapphire Gems, blue sexlinks that lay brown eggs. I beefed up the commercial layers because I had so many egg customers and they got pissy when they couldn’t get eggs on demand in the winter last year. Naturally, now that I have a ton, egg orders have dwindled :unamused:

I’m collecting eggs now from my exhibition Barred Rock pen so that I can get some chicks hatched and try to get my numbers built back up next spring.

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@Mosey_2003, of our bunch I will agree that our EE is the most skittish and funny you mention the Cinnamon Queens. We bought one of those (because Mr. Trub’s favorite chicken, that the fox got, was that color and that was the only thing they had that was supposed to be that color) and she is the friendliest chicken we have ever had. She lays a nice large brown egg.

Actually, I am not sure what the rest of my girls are, other than those two, but we get all brown eggs except the one blue/green egg.

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Yep! I had grabbed 3 Cinnamon Queens the year before just to have enough eggs for when I’m incubating and they were annoyingly friendly :laughing: More than once I had a heart attack because I nearly stepped on them, they were always right on my tail.

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I was going to put - sometimes annoyingly so - but I did not want to make her sound bad. She supervises while I clean the coop. All the other girls are out eating things and she is poking her head around my leg watching me.

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My cousin basically stole them from me and they spend half their time inside her house :laughing: It’s a good gig for them.

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I have a small backyard flock: 4 Golden Comet hens and 1 black mixed breed hen. The black hen is the oldest, and she’s a tough old bird. She’s managed to outlive at least 3 earlier generations. I got them for eggs and tick control. They wander around all over the yard, back to the horse barn and hay barn, and in the fields with the horses. They always come back to their hen house at night to roost.

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And two of my three Prairie Bluebells and the maran are always underfoot for me, plus one of the OEs. My two Anconas are skittish as advertised, but man they are pretty and until recently were producing HUGE white eggs. Consistently large, nearly an egg-a-day eggs. They are three or four and it dropped way off, I haven’t seen a white egg since mid-summer. Several of my birds are getting to be the age when they aren’t laying at all, but of course the wyandottes and OEs all lay about the same color so I can’t tell who is laying and who isn’t.

I think I may get some leghorns next year…

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I’ve been debating Leghorns since now that I have blue eggs, heck I may as well offer the full spectrum :laughing: Been haunting the hatchery sites and see that California Whites are basically mellower Leghorns, I might order some of those if they’re available when I order my broiler chicks.

Ohhhhh!

I am tired of all brown eggs. I need to put a camera in the coop and figure out who is still laying once they start again, my special needs gimpy hen is looking really bedraggled and I think the humane thing might be to put her down.

Isn’t it funny how that goes? Some of them just go on and on. I had my first prolapsed vent a few weeks ago, one of the Starlights. I never see stuff like that in my Rocks but they say it happens more in the production birds ~sigh~

We’ve had chickens for about ten years. They started as a 4H project - 10 black Jersey Giants that, to this day, were some of the best chickens we ever have had. Friendly, inquisitive, smart. A couple of them really were big, which we liked.

We added to the flock over time. Rhode Island Reds, from another 4H year, speckled Sussex that were quite beautiful, a whole bunch of really dopey Barred Rock from a third 4H year (not my favorites), a variety of Auracanas, pretty silver laced Wyandottes, a golden Phoenix pullet that was so elegant and a silver Phoenix rooster that was unparalleled in his beauty. He was great until he was about four years old, when he became aggressive toward our farmsitter and then, apparently emboldened by his bullying of her, became aggressive toward us. We gave him away.

One or two of those great Jersey Giants lived to be six or seven years old, before the Summer Massacre of 2019 resulted in the deaths of 22 chickens by the fangs of our idiot neighbor dogs.

We’ve had a smaller flock of six or eight since then, now down to four thanks to a predator (eagle, hawk, bobcat, coyote, fox?) that picked off several in daylight. Current flock is two white leghorns that are among the cleverest birds we’ve had - excellent layers but somehow not so likable, one smallish Jersey Giant, one Americana that lays blue-green eggs.

Although they were all good layers, I don’t think I want to get cuckoo Marans, barred rocks, or leghorns again, or at least not multiples of them. I’d love to restock a few Sussex and try some golden laced Wyandottes, some olive eggers and lavender Orpintons. And a couple more Americanas. I do love a range of colors in my egg cartons - white, baby blue, dark brown, speckled brown, tan, baby green.

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I’ve got 7 at the moment.

I had 4 (4H chicks, raised from littles), lost 3 to hawks and coyotes last year, bought an adult mystery hen at the feed store to keep the last one company. She’s a speckled something or other, and not laying.

Anyway, I got 4 chix this summer from the ‘last’ offerings at Tractor Supply – one a “jungle fowl” who ended up being a male and thus was given away to my gardener who knew of a home for him. Such a lovely bird. One a meat chicken. I wasn’t quite prepared for what that one turned into. I swear she weighs 15 lbs! I’m not going to eat her, just interesting to have her around to see if she might wind up laying. There is NO WAY she could outrun a coyote. Doesn’t even roost on the lowest bar, simply too heavy. One a golden sex linked, she’s doing fine, but is very timid. One a Brahma who fed a hawk recently. Along the way, I found 3 others who were being given away: a white chicken of unknown breed, and two RI Reds. 1.5 years old.

I have two coops but I’ve just incorporated the juvie chicks (who are now 6 months old) with the adult hens, so there’s a bunch of shuffling going on, and i’m not letting them out of their big pen while they work things out between themselves. Next spring I hope for a pair of geese so I need the 2nd coop for them.

The poor speckled hen is so timid she hangs out with the juvies. Wasn’t much company for the sole existing hen from my first 4H batch after all: that hen picked on her mercilessly.

Black hen: Angie (Philanges. Thanks to my granddaughter).
RIRs: Muchu and Phil (they came with names)
White boss hen: Bubbles (ditto)
Speckled old lady hen: Funfetti
Meat Chicken: Bertha
Gold sex linked: Eggspert.

The Brahma that got et was named Heidi and she was the prettiest of the young girls. I gave her the name hoping she’d be good at hiding, but turns out, I gave it to the wrong chicken.

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I’m trying to plan out some new infrastructure for this spring. I’ve been working on the barn off and on for a year or so, and just need to finish digging out an old dirt stall and then I can build some more pen panels and have three 8’ square pens in there, with the option to split each in half. That will be good for my breeders and really young growouts, but I’d like to have more outside pens and access too. Thinking some sort of A-frames with removable roosts and just tarps over the back third, could be moved around with the garden tractor. Although, I’m not sure how often they will be moved since the space I want to have them doesn’t have a ton of flat area, will have to think about that. Kind of want to cozy them up near the dog pen to cut down on predator pressure. Also want to do one of those short, simple tractors for meat birds…

Plus I need to put together some more nestboxes that can be moved around between pens. And I’d really like to build a new brooder that will work better than the one I have, but I haven’t decided exactly how I want it to be constructed yet.

I got a Humidikit a couple weeks ago, so I’m excited to give that a try in my hatcher. I have a hard time keeping the humidity “just so” in there so I feel like this is going to be really great for me.

I hope to get some Welsummers with other colored egg layers next year, potentially. I need to cull some of the non-layers if I want to add to my flock.

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We just lost ours last week. All of them, in one night, not a sound that we heard. All dead, torn apart. Which was a bit of a blow, because they were kinda halfways pets. Some were fully “retired”, just hanging around eating until one day they keel over. Some still laying, though not so much now in winter. But they follow us around, come when called, and when they are turned out on the lawn to graze in summer on all the good things they find, grasshoppers are their favourate. Were their favourate. All dead now. Red ones, the high output layers, and some aracanas, and some grey speckled ones. We figured it was a weasel or mink, found a TINY hole high up in the fence under the roof. But we put the camera out there, since whatever it was kept coming back and removing a dead body each night. It was a bobcat, we have it on film now. DH didn’t think a bobcat could fit through that tiny space above the wire, but apparently, it could. And did, both on the night that he killed them all without a sound, and every night after that, as he came back each night to remove another dead body from his larder.
In spring, we may get some more chickens. And will mend the tiny hole above the wire and under the rafters where this bobcat made his entrance. We’ve had chickens in this pen for 10 years, and have seen bobcats around sometimes, but it has taken this long for one of them to locate this entrance into the chicken pen.
So- check your pen. Even if everything has been fine for you and your flock for years… check it for any small hole, even holes that appear too small for anything much to get through. Because they still can get through, if there is a hole, and a bloody tragedy is the result.

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Jeepers!!! That’s awful, I’m sorry :frowning:

That’s horrible but I’d love to see the bobcat on video! Give me an idea on how small it can squeeze…

We have bald eagles here that just eat anything they think they can get away with, coyotes, mink, shorttailed weasels, raccoons obviously (is any place free of them?), and foxes. I actually got in an argument with my vet over the existence of Whidbey foxes, as I had captured some crazy audio on my security cameras that neither of us could ID, and then COTH IDed it as a fox. She said there was no way there were foxes here and I said I had seen one once 12ish years ago - then about a month later someone posted a gorgeous picture of a red fox in their back yard.

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I had what I feel like was a lot of predation my second year with chickens. My first year Dad brought the live trap up and put it by the coop and we took out 14 raccoons I believe, nothing ever actually made it into the run/coop. The next year was fine until winter and it was like it was on - had an opossum in the barn multiple times, and then a pair of them in the coop. After fortifying things to where I thought it must be safe, the next spring I had what must have been a mink or weasel coming into the barn picking off my growouts. It was a smart little ****er, it would wait for me to do chores and then leave for work at 6:15, then would go in and cause havoc. Eventually I had to move everyone back to the brooder inside the shop part of the barn while I covered up every little hole I could find. To be honest, I don’t think I managed to mustelid-proof my place, I figure he or she must have moved on after a few days of finding no easy chickens to eat. Luckily (knock wood) one hasn’t been back in a couple years. I’m really hoping the dog being present and peeing all around will continue to warn them off, because otherwise I’d have to redo everything in hardware cloth.

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