Crofting: New Chickens

silkie, about 6 weeks old

The silkie chicks keep growing, and are started to fledge out in their fancy feathers. The four surviving ones are doing well, although they are still living in the big dog crate.

Now we are planning a new chicken pen project, because we were given four mature birds, which we picked up today. Our friends are closing a house they own in a nearby town, and their son had left behind four grown birds, three hens and a rooster. She emailed me yesterday and asked if I wanted them. I agreed; the hens are all laying daily. We drove over to the house this morning, and met her husband, boxed the chickens in a crate, and took down the poultry wire fence. He also gave us a good sized stack of pressure treated fence boards, from which we will build a goat pen.

The rooster is a lovely big bird, the epitome of roosterhood. We suspect he may be a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Barred Rock, so Nicholas calls him a “Rocky Road.” He weighs about 35 pounds, according to Nicholas. He’s got a good sound as well – he started crowing at me this afternoon when I was working in the barn. Nicholas won’t name the birds, which surprises me. Maybe he is afraid of getting too attached if they are ‘named’ birds. I decided to name him “Dublin,” because of the Chieftains’ old Irish tune, “The Rocky Road to Dublin.”

One of the hens is a good-sized and slightly haughty Barred Rock. She lays buff eggs. I may call her Pachysandra. It is a slightly silly, slightly haughty name.

The other two hens are identical, and I think they are a cross between a Rhode Island Red and an Arucana, as they are gingery in colour, with some white feathers. They are sweet-natured and maternal. They lay green eggs, like Arucanas, but quite large, like a Red. Maybe I’ll name them Myrtle and Mignonette.They are terribly bossed by Dublin, who demands all the nice sitting spots in the hay, and first nibble at the oats.

When the silkies get bigger and start laying, I can try them on some of the other eggs. Silkies are quite broody, and since their own eggs are bantam sized, not quite as useful in the kitchen. I assume Dublin knows his business; he won’t be allowed in with the silkies, as they are so small compared to Mr. Monster. He looks like Godzilla next to them. I intend to keep the silkies in their own nesting box in the barn, and give them their own little run outside. Barred Rocks can be pushy and even bullying.

I need to find a couple of heat lamps, but that will probably mean a trip down to Centreville or Fredericton soon. I also need to get more hay as I can afford it, which will have to be in the next couple of weeks.

It was an uplifting, unexpected blessing for us, and for the birds. The first plan was butchering! I’m glad they were spared, as they are all well-feathered, healthy birds, and I expect we will get a year or more of laying from them. If we get a clutch or two hatched under the silkies, all the better.



2 thoughts on “Crofting: New Chickens

  1. Glad to hear the chicks are doing better. The banty eggs are what I use most often in the kitchen. I’m usually sold out of the big ones. 2 banty eggs usually equal one large.

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