Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All grown up

 December 2011

Remember these guys? Our last batch of chickens are now 32 weeks old, which is around 7-8 months of age. They started laying at the end of autumn, so we've been lucky to have an egg-glut through winter. Between the new guys and their parents, we average around 10 eggs a day!

Is this guy trouble?

Above is "trouble" the only rooster we decided to keep from the batch. He's not exactly trouble at all. In fact he's absolutely a dream, as far as roosters go. He looks after his ladies and always makes sure they eat before he does. Even when the other roosters pecked the girls away from the food, trouble always made sure he saved his food for them.

Sarah has since renamed him Tony Stark, aka: Ironman/Avengers style. He is a utility bred, black Australorp, Australia's only recognised breed.

We ended up with 7 girls and 6 boys out of the 13 that hatched. Do  you remember lucky last?

I'm feeling clucky for chicks again

And indeed they were lucky as they almost didn't hatch out of the egg. We called them Omega 13, because they were the last to hatch out of 13 chicks. I really thought they were going to be a boy because they've always been so lanky. But I was wrong...

Not so lanky any more

Lucky last, Omega 13, turned out to be a girl! She is the one most likely to stray from the group. Maybe because she's the only white hen in a flock of black ones? All her brothers which turned out to be cross-colours like her, weren't as nice-tempered as Omega.

It wasn't a hard decision to dispatch them. Because once trouble/Tony became lead rooster, flock life became a breeze.

Guess who?

The above hen is the only one (apart from Omega) now, who has a slight colour variation. She has a chestnut hackle. I'm guessing she's likely a cross between her Australorp father and a New Hampshire mother. Can you guess what Sarah decided to name her?

From this particular batch of chicks, I learned crosses with Isa Browns leads to very unruly (unrooster-like) boys. Roosters shouldn't be aggressive, unless you're breeding the game variety. Roosters should put their flock first, which also means respecting those who bring the food - us. The boys which came from the Isa Brown and Australorp crosses, were not very nice in temperament or how they treated the hens. One in particular (psycho boy) hen-pecked absolutely everyone. His favourite victim was trouble/Tony, because the girls loved him and the other boys respected him.

When psycho boy turned on Dave, as he was leaving the coop, that was the last attack he was allowed to make. He became Indian butter chicken, for dinner. Mmm...yummy.

So if finances allow from now on, we'll stick with the Heritage breeds.The Australorps in particular, seem to be very domesticated.

So placid is this particular flock in fact, I was able to round them up into their coop, by myself, without a flutter or a squark! Which I put down to our not harassing them and Tony Stark's adoration of lovely ladies. He loves on them all day long, even when he's not after the score.


  1. Funny typo:
    "So if fiances allow from now on, we'll stick with the Heritage breeds."
    I have no idea why engaged people would tell you how to manage your flock!

  2. Ha-ha, getting up in the middle of the night DOES have it's side effects. Typos.

    Thanks for pointing it out and stopping by.

    All fixed now. :)

  3. I wondered what was happening in your chicken world. It's great that you eat your roos, I wish we could do that but I am just too squeamish.

    I love the way a good rooster will look after his girls, our Rafa even picks up little treats and drops them in front of his girls making that same noise that a mother hen makes. And I love the little dance he does first thing in the morning when I let him out of his box. I'm going to incubate some of our own eggs soon just in case the neighbours complain and we have to get rid of him.

  4. I seriously don't blame you on the squeamish front. Dave does the deed, and the more he does it the more normal it is becoming for me. I see the feathers on our verandah still, some get caught in the cobwebs (ah, nature, lol).

    My plan is to become more involved in the process, but I certainly understand the feelings of being squeamish for anyone it's not normalised for. I'm still on that path.

    Good luck with your incubation. If you have the time, I would love to see photos of little fluffy bundles of cuteness. Although I'm feeling clucky for new chicks, I've decided not to hatch anymore until we organise our system better. Dave may change my mind though. He's been leading the charge on working on a meat bird we breed here. Which may call for an Indian game cross.

  5. Thanks for sharing this with us. I still have alot to learn about chickens. Somebody recently suggested that we get ahold of a rooster but I am not sure then how to tell if eggs are fertilized. And of course the crazy stories we hear about aggressive roosters puts me off. I think your Tony might be the first " nice" rooster story I have!

  6. Yes, just like people, roosters have their own personalities. Although I do find some Heritage breeds more friendlier than others.

    I'm not sure on the exact maths, but it's something like 2 to 4 days for eggs to be produced in the system, before being laid. So generally about a week or two after introducing a rooster, you'd expect the eggs to be fertilised. If they aren't a working rooster (so an under aged cockerel) they may take a while to learn how to get on top without scaring the hens, LOL.

    But only take on a rooster if you're comfortable with them. They do crow and consume food, so unless you feel the flock needs them or you need to have fertile eggs, it's not essential to have a rooster.

  7. I have never heard of a nice rooster! Maybe you can ship a clone of Tony to me. Since mine spurred me as I ran for my life when I was four, I am terrified of roosters. I am down to two hens and only one laying. So, I need to do something soon to assure I have eggs continually. I am thinking about adding two hens to my remaining ones--Thelma and Louise. If I get babies, that's lots of trouble in my condition. I just cannot have them in the house again. I think Louise would hatch eggs since she seems to want to set all the time. Setting hen=clucky hen.

  8. Hi Linda, roosters can be temperamental, which is why I always have room for a good one. :)

    How you get new layers will depend on what's available in your area. I know that can be a pain sometimes. Perhaps you can adopt the ones from next door if they're not too much trouble? It depends on their age, because older hens won't lay as well.

    Of course if you can find a supply of fertile eggs you could see if Louise will hatch them. Hens can be unpredictable though. They may not turn out to be good mothers once they're hatched and you end up having to take care of the little ones anyway.

    If you can find a way to acquire laying hens without too much cost involved, that's probably the route of less stress. I've done the raising chicks thing, and it's great but also time consuming.


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