Turkeysong

Experimental Homestead

Turkeysong, the Year in Chickens 2012

THIS BLOG IS RETIRED, I’VE MOVED TO SKILLCULT.COM   

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Chickens have been a constant source of amusement here for the past year and a half or more.  We have been testing out various breeds and just seeing how chickens might or might not integrate into the homestead.  We are learning a lot, but the main product so far has been entertainment!  More on chickens later, but here are a few frozen moments from our year of Chickens.  brrrrrraaaaaaauuk.

How many speckled sussex?

How many speckled sussex?

tonia with a Speckled Sussex.

tonia with a Speckled Sussex.

Speckled Sussex Chick.

Speckled Sussex Chick.

baby Buckeye chicken. Buckeyes are a very rare heritage breed that we are trying out here. They are alleged to be good foragers, curious and are supposed to emit a dinosaur like raor

Baby Buckeye chicken. Buckeyes are a very rare heritage breed that we are trying out here. They are alleged to be good foragers, curious and are supposed to emit a dinosaur like roar.  We are still on the fence about how much we like them.  Thanks to Douglas Hayes for preserving and improving this breed and providing us with chicks.

Buffy the Bug Slayer being narcissistic?

Buffy the Bug Slayer being narcissistic?

tonia and buffy, the biggest and the smallest TLA... tonia is a sebright bantam and Buffy was a Buff Orpington.

awwww… tonia and Buffy, the biggest and the smallest stealing a moment on the roost.   tonia is a sebright bantam and Buffy a Buff Orpington.

Buffy and tonia's eggs begin hatching...

Buffy and tonia’s eggs begin hatching…

hatching seabuffs.

hatching seabuff (buff tonia?  buffbright?).

Checking out a new sibling.

Checking out a new sibling.

tonia giving the warning fluff.

tonia giving the warning fluff.  Small but fiesty.  She attacked us regularly taking mothering vary seriously.  Now she won’t have anything to do with them.  Just more mouths competing for compost scraps and bugs.

awww, too cute to leave out.

awww, too cute to leave out.

Speckled Sussi growing up.

Speckled Sussi growing up.

Rondo makes the cut as new head rooster. Still hoping he develops more personality though...

Rondo crowing.  He made the cut as new head rooster. Still hoping he develops more personality though…  He sure is pretty.

Buffy wears a bra. He somehow got bra over his head while sticking it somewhere it didn't belong. We had to rescue him because he was running around terrified. Or was that just a ruse?

Buffy wears a bra. He somehow got this bra over his head while sticking it somewhere it didn’t belong. I had to rescue him because he was running around terrified. Or was that just the ruse of a cross dressing rooster?

Not amused. It used to be quiet around here.

Not amused. It used to be quiet around here.  Chickensong maybe?

So that’s our year in Chickens.  It would be great to hear anyone’s experiences with free ranging chickens.  We don’t have a dog, or fencing, so we’ve lost quite a few, but they sure are happy running around all over the place scratching the place up.  The eggs are great too from all those bugs and plants they eat.

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January 22, 2013 - Posted by | Food and Drink Making, Non-Human Animals | , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. No fencing? I am amazed you have any left at all. Without the electric wires, the foxes and raccoons would have cleaned us out long ago. Everybody I know who has tried completely free-ranging chickens has eventually lost the whole flock to predation. Put up an electric fence around a big area and let them free-range inside that.

    Our Sussexes are the best foragers; followed by the Orpingtons and Buckeyes. New Hampshires and Delawares do very well too. We didn’t like either of the Sussex roos and ate them both; they didn’t have good personalities and were mean to the hens. The best rooster we had was a Delaware, great personality (hilarious, in fact) and good with the girls. Eventually Catherine got sick of his shit and we ate him too.

    The eggs from foraging chickens really are amazing, especially in winter-spring when there is fresh green grass. I grew a huge patch of kale just for chickens, to keep those yolks orange through the summer and fall.

    Comment by Tim in Albion | January 22, 2013 | Reply

    • I didn’t know you had Buckeyes too. I like the Sussi so far, and the one sebright. The Buckeyes are still too young to tell what they will be like. Do yours roar like dinosaurs? that’s probably just too much to ask… The Sebright actually lays a lot of eggs and they are smaller, but not in proportion to her body size, in which case they are relatively bigger. Do you grow tree collards? They are probably as nutritious or more so than Kale and they don’t go to seed so they are perennial. I have some new seed grown montenegran tree collards that I’m trying out. A friend visited there and was gifted some of the rare seeds (they also rarely go to seed). She said they are a staple food there and grow in every available niche not used for something else. I can hook you up with a couple seedlings if you want to try them.

      Comment by Stevene | January 22, 2013 | Reply

  2. Oh, and we let some hens hatch eggs too, that was fun. One good thing about that is eating the cockerels; too bad you have to wait about a month after they start crowing, before they get big enough to be worth cutting up. But man is that good meat!

    Last couple of years we bought meat-bird (Cornish X) chicks and put them under broody hens. Worked a treat, no stress disorders, no coccidiosis, no medicated feed, etc. The hens made them go out and forage, a little anyway, so the meat is much better quality than usual (though still not as good as the slow-growing heritage birds).

    Comment by Tim in Albion | January 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Yeah, well try sleeping about 30 feet from a coop with a few extra budding cockerels learning to crow at 4:30 am every morning. I’m staying away from the Cornish cross birds. Faster growing means less nutrient density and flavor. Efficiency comes with a price that doesn’t seem worth paying in that case. Interesting though that they did much better than usual. The buff orpington rooster we roasted for thanksgiving last year was really juicy and delicious. I’m spoiled on range fed slow growing birds. Talk about slow growing, the Buckeyes seem especially slow. Did you notice that?

      Comment by Stevene | January 22, 2013 | Reply

  3. Nice photos Steven! My birds are definitely not free ranging per se, but they get out and forage for a few good hours a day. That is one of the bummers about beings in the city, but we make the best of our situation. We have had no losses to wild life. Our Rottweiler mutt and two attack cats keep the hens safe. That is pretty awesome that you are breeding some hybrid birds, keep us posted on their evolution.

    Comment by autonomyacres | January 22, 2013 | Reply

    • Breeding might be a strong word. They more or less took care of that. We’re just letting nature take its course for now. But who knows, buffbrights may just be a winner! We are so far impressed with our sebright bantam. Most people say that they lay less, but ours seems to lay well and decent size relative to their size. Lots of personality too, if a little bitchy. Of course the culls aren’t as large when you eat them, but if you keep more, that doesn’t matter so much. I’ve just been wondering if bantams wouldn’t be more efficient for a small operation, even like ours. We have 40 acres, but the chickens probably don’t use much more than two acres regularly.

      Comment by Stevene | January 22, 2013 | Reply

  4. Love the pictures, first thing you hear in the mornings are the roosters that cuckadoo all night long…

    Comment by GCF-M | January 22, 2013 | Reply


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