My very favorite hen died this week. I’m so thankful that she as a part of my flock.
She was a big ole’ Buff Brahma and the mellowest hen I’ve ever had. She arrived when my flock was young and mothered the growing chicks.
Upon her arrival she took note of the pecking order, walked over to the lead hen, pecked her once and took over as lead hen.
She was the first hen to lay an egg
She was the first hen to brood chicks
She was a great mama, both a dedicated brooder and unlike most hens, she never left her chicks, she stayed with them as they grew up and hung out with them for the rest of her life.
Her DNA is in all of the gentle roosters I have.
I miss her already.
A Coupla Roosters
I don’t post my boys very often. Here are two of the three main roosters I have caring for the established flock. BTW, both of them were sold to me as hens. o_O
GPOY - Chick Edition
Top: Blue (Splash) Andalusian Rooster lends a wing to an errant chick the literally flew the coop. The rooster is fully feathered, the little one is not and needs the warmth.
Center: Three of the many
Bottom: Partial shot of the many, this hatch. 31 or so of 47 hatched successfully. There are still one or two in the incubator working on hatching. The dark chick in the foreground was not fully dry when I took the photo.
These are from one day’s worth of eggs - so while some of the chicks may share a Papa’s DNA, each is from a unique hen.
The Brabanter is a Dutch breed of chicken originating in the historic region of Brabant which straddles Belgium and the Netherlands. In a few paintings from the 1670s by Dutch artist Melchior d’Hondecoeter, appear what would seem to be Brabanters. The original form of the Brabanter nearly went extinct in the early 20th century. The few remaining birds were interbred with their close relative, the Dutch Owlbeard, and the breed was recreated by 1920. credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brabanter
A few weeks ago Bella and I visited a farm about an hour up the road, where she met other dogs that look just like her, and I picked up some chicks. This is one the farmers threw in, as I just love her coloring and the fan of feathers on her feet. I didn’t want bantams, in fact I met these folks and traded my bantams for their fancy breeds, but as it turns out, I’m a color and pattern hen hoarder - is that a thing?
I am hoping that she will breed with a larger rooster (which is ALL of the current roosters) and that her color will crop up in standard sized birds. Cuz little eggs, who needs em? :)
VasolineJesus was looking for a Halloween kid deterrent…and all this time I have had the answer in my yard. This Nankin rooster I call him Jackass, but we can change his name to Doukey…he’s the smallest natural breed of chicken so about a pound of trouble, and S-H-R-I-L-L, Shit Howdy can he screech. I have two of them, so they can come as a matched set or individually. Even the Nankin hens avoid them.
Lol, this is the happy face of my Brahma Rooster “Big Red” after I rescued him. He’d gotten himself wedged between the back of the pen and the wall — took me two hours to get him free and required real tools. Despite his cross look, he’s the gentlest rooster I have.
I keep a book of all my chickens. I do. Each bird has a spread - when and where they were born, a baby picture, a juvenile photo and an adult photo. Notes about them - broody? Good layer? Age? Parents? With over 100 birds now, it’s important to keep track of them all and that is much easier on paper.
The pullet pictured was a cause for concern earlier this week. I’ve noticed that her pupil is not round, which can be a sign of Marek’s disease, which can in turn wipe out a flock. There is no cure. I was facing the decision of risking it by keeping her, or of culling her.
I no longer have to make that decision, it was made for me. She was killed by one of my dogs. A neighbor came by last night and told me that there was a big commotion at the house while I was out. Apparently, a coyote was up against the fence which got my dogs going and they in turn started fighting with each other. Twice. Bad fighting — which they have never done before in my presence. Bad enough that she heard it a few houses away and came up to stop it.
I knew none of this, when I arrived home though, there were two birds from different flocks outside the fence, and this bird was dead. At lights out, I did a count and found I was also down a Delaware pullet. This morning I found her feathers in the park, a coyote got her.
I know that livestock keeping is not for the faint-hearted, and knew going in that there were plenty of predators in the area. I don’t expect my dogs to kill the birds. My older dog has on a couple of occasions, they younger dog, never. And I imagine that the fighting was as much over the coyote as over who got the spoils.
Losing an animal never gets easier. And it’s never the annoying rooster that gets killed, it’s always the favorite hen.
CHICKENS 101: BEARDS AND MUFFS…and TUFTS
Muff? Yup - the side whiskery things…not to be confused with tufts.
Top Bird: From my flock. 19 week old Ameracauna Pullet - no beard, no muff
Center Bird: From my flock. 19 week old Salmon Faverolles* - full beard, full muff (poor coloring to breed but that’s another topic)
Bottom Bird: Not Mine. Aracauna with Ear Tufts Photo Credit. Aracauna’s are the only breed [I know of] that have ear tufts.
*Faverolles is always plural as it is the name of a city in France.
BIG WHITE PULLET* - Cross Easter Egger Roo and Light Brahma Hen
I’m very pleased with this little lady. She’s from my first hatch this year, she’s a wonderful cross of Ameracauna muff and beard, willow green legs, and Light Brahma size and patterning. Hopefully she’ll starting laying in the next week or two, and maybe, if I’m lucky her eggs will be olive green - fingers crossed.
*Pullet is a female chicken that has not begun laying eggs yet. Once she lays, she’ll become a hen. There will be a “flying up” ceremony, like we had in Brownies. :)
P.S. The butt, front-left is a Blue Cochin pullet, in case you were curious.
One of the pullets just coming into lay this month. Fingers crossed that a dozen or two of the new girls will take on laying through the shorter, darker days. I’ve been lucky in the past, but this year I have more birds moulting and birds that have stopped for the winter. I don’t believe in using artificial light to keep birds laying.
This girl is gorgeous, full of fall color - so I named her after a gregarious college roommate - Autumn, who in not only colorful, but in turn was named after the song “Autumn Leaves”.
Chickens are maddeningly curious. Bring out anything new and they will run like, well, like chickens, away from it. And cluster in a corner completely freaked out where they can smother one another in their panic. This can include a new food they haven’t seen before, a cardboard box, or god-forbid, the dreaded broom! But turn your back and leave, and they will edge their way over to check it out. Climb on it, peck at it, crap on it, until they are absolutely certain that it’s not edible. At that point they will pointedly ignore it, forever.
This hen has similar ancestry to the Rooster I just posted. Her shape is better, her legs more proportional to her body. She’s the result of a Red Laced Cornish Cross and probably a Danish Brown Leghorn Rooster. She has the Cornish boxy shape as well but is more balanced.
Salmon Faverolles hen 12 weeks…The breed was developed in the 1860s in north-central France, in the vicinity of the villages of Houdan and Faverolles. The breed was given the name of the latter village and, therefore, the singular is also Faverolles, not Faverolle