Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chicken count

There have been a few changes in my chicken coops lately. Namely to do with reducing my numbers. It was a very difficult choice, but I decided to put my pekins up for sale. They found a new home recently, with a grandmother and her two grandkids. She was interested in the pekins specifically because of their nice natures around children. The blue pekin rooster has a very gentle disposition too, so I know they'll all get on well.

I also found new homes for both my Gold Lace Wyandotte roosters. One will go to an established flock of Gold Lace Wyandottes, so he will have a harem of his own. The other is going back to the breeder I bought the eggs from. He was happy to take one of his own back to see how he develops. They were already 20 weeks old, but I'm told they still have a lot of growing to do.

So who is left?

The bantam Orpingtons are still with us and we plan to keep them in one of the coops. I've found their natures - especially the roosters' - are very docile and friendly. They are filling out nicely at 30 weeks, or 7 months, and they still have some growing to do. I'm getting an egg a day between the 3 girls. The one in the middle is a blue pullet (along with the rooster who is also blue) and the other two girls are black. They are developing into the traditional shape of an Orpington.

Here is a better picture demonstrating the full figure of an Oprpington pullet. They have a high tail and full breast. Orpingtons are meant to have slate grey legs and black eyes, which these guys have. Come spring, I'm hoping to get some lovely chicks from them.

Also staying are the bantam lavender Araucanas, although one of my girls is looking a little unwell. I've just wormed them, so I hope she works it through her system and comes good. This is the lavender rooster and he's quite a sweety to his two girls. He gets immensely jealous if they demonstrate any attention towards the Orpington rooster.

I've noticed however that some of the Araucana eggs have a little blood on the shell - hence why I wormed them recently. Of course it could just be due to coming into lay, and their bodies getting used to the new process. The worst case scenario however, is her organs are too narrow for the size of egg she's capable of developing. I will keep an eye on things and hope to report an improvement soon.

I suspect the off-colour Araucana is the one laying the shell with blood on the outside.

I will also be keeping 2 of the Gold Lace Wyandotte pullets and putting them in with the Araucanas at "Hilltop house". I should get a nice cross bred chook between them. I'm excited about what the chicks will eventually look like - they should be pretty hardy too. As the father will be an Araucana, his genes will influence the colour of the egg, so any pullets from this cross should lay light green eggs.

I just have to rehome 2 of my other Gold Lace Wyandotte pullets, and my numbers should be more manageable. At least until spring time and I get all those lovely little chicks again.

Although it has been difficult letting go of some of my chooks, at the end of the day I did it for their overall health - and mine. Even though I have 2 coops now, I had way too many chickens to fit in them both - and be healthy!

The best part is, I found great homes for the ones I let go. Surely, you can't ask for anything more satisfying than that.


  1. Sorry you had to let some chookies go, but they sound like they will be happy! I'd love your Wyandottes (though don't think they would survive the postal process :-/ !! BTW, your blog is great, lots in common I think, I'll be back to read your building bits (its all ahead of us!)
    Hope the araucana is better soon x

  2. Some big changes in your coops! The bantam Orpington pullet is just lovely (must look at our Pip again - I always thought she was bantam Australorp but she has the grey legs and a similar shape?) I think you made good choices with what to keep and I can't wait to see how you go with the cross of the GLWs and Araucana. I remember seeing a chick on BYP with what looked like a fabulous hair do from a similar cross. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    My friend is married to a fireman and I know she struggles to organise around his hours - it's not easy even in an ordinary line of work. One thing that has strangely really helped us is getting the veg delivered every week - we never have left overs and it dictates our meals and we now only shop once a month for all the not veg. Don't know if this is realistic where you are but it has made a big difference in the frenetics of our lives (ps my plans for a wood fire have been shelved for another year too)

  3. the coop looks great esp with the veggies around the outside
    im glad all you chickies found great homes, its hard to let them go

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Jacqui, I think the Orpingtons have really chunky drumsticks and a very small back - virtually none between the tail and hackle feathers. Where as Australorps have a slighly longer back.

    They are very similiar though and every breeder has their own interpretation. I've seen some Orpingtons that look very Lorpish and vice versa. You've made me want to go do more research on it now. :)

    Oh and maybe we'll both get our heaters next year!

    Thanks for noticing the vegies Nicole. To me the coop wouldn't be the same without them. I love picking bits'n pieces and throwing them in to the chooks. I hope your girls have settled nicely into their new home.

    Hi mountainwildlife, thanks for stopping by. I'm going to have to buy some Sao's biscuits soon, to try out your Vanilla Slice recipe. I'm really looking foward to that!

    I love reading all your blogs too. Thanks for visiting. :)

  5. I just found your blog from Notes from the Frugal Trenches. We recently acquired some chooks and ducks from a friend. One of them is a black chook like the Orpingtons you have in this post (Chicken Count) Ours lays a blue/green egg, is this normal? I've only had Isa Browns before. We've called ours Blackie and she doesn't bok, she clucks! Love it. Glad I found your blog, it looks great.

  6. Hi Larissa, thanks for dropping by and leaving your comment. I like reading Notes from the Frugal Trenches too. :)

    As for your chicken mystery, I don't know any green-egg laying breeds that look like an orpington, so it's possible you've had a cross somewhere with a green egg laying breed.

    Fortunately, there's only a few breeds of chicken that lay the blue/green coloured egg. It will depend what part of the world you're located in too.

    In the USA, you'll have the Ameraucana - we don't have that breed in Australia, but we do have Araucanas. In Europe, they have such a breed known as a Cream Legbar. This has an infusion of Araucana genes in it's make-up, giving it the green egg again.

    So I'm guessing you have an orpington looking chicken, with the green egg laying gene crossed in. It's quite normal if you happen to have the correct genes for laying green eggs. :)

    I felt very weird eating these green eggs at first. It was only psychological though, as once I tasted them, they were just like regular eggs. Now they are our best layers, and live off the sniff of an oily rag. I've rarely had an araucana get sick on me.

    I hope you enjoy your unique eggs. Thanks for dropping in. :)

  7. THANK YOU! I looked up images of Araucana and they are definately her eggs! I also found what another of our chooks are!!! She's the dappled brown. Maybe they are both Orp/Arau crosses! We also have a tiny bantum (white with pinkish/brown coming through) with feathers on her legs and five to see what she is...(fiesty little thing). My problem now is that none of them are laying. It's been extremely hot here all summer and has just cooled in the past fortnight to low 30c-high20s, so hopefully they'll settle and lay soon. I"ve had to BUY eggs three times this summer!

  8. Yes, I find summer and winter are the worst times for egg production too. In summer the hens usually go in to their annual moult, and in winter they put all their energy into keeping warm. Spring and autumn are the best months for eggs. :)

    I'm wondering if your bantam is a silkie, or crossed with a silkie? They're a breed I know has 5 toes and feathered legs.

    Anyway, I'm glad you found a few clues to some of your chicken mysteries. It's always nice to know what you have. :)

  9. thanks for your help on the identification! Maybe a white bantum orpington with a silkie?! hoping the girls will start their laying again soon.....


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