Chickens for Rita

sweetannie4u(midOK_z6b/7a)June 17, 2010

Chicks: six Buff Orpingtons and four Black Sex-Links. Certified females. Little balls of black and yellow fluff. They were purchased Easter week 2010. First home - an old wash tub.

A few weeks older - the little hens are starting to get real feathers and growing bigger so needed a new place to live - an empty lawnmower box worked just fine.

May 2010: too big for the box. Time to go into the henhouse and have some freedom in the outside run

Early June, 2010: Little hens are growing fast in their new environment. I give them fresh grass two or three times a day, every day, plus scratch (cracked, mixed grains). This batch is not going to run free. I am tired of critters getting my "girls" - wild and neighbor's pets.

These are the best chickens I have ever had. They go to roost in the henhouse every night without my having to shoo them inside and they don't need a night light or an electric fan. happy little girls!

Today - June 27th, 2010: The Buffs are getting bigger than the Black Sex-Links, as they should. The Buff Orpingtons are the largest or among the largest of chickens.

Close-up showing their size differences

These friendly hens come right up to me when I feed them or take their photos - my sweet girls

Higglety Pigglety My Black Hen...She lays eggs for Gentlemen - someday soon.

This little pullet hen is a good example of how "buff" they will become as adults, but notice her tail feathers aren't as developed. Even though they are all from the same batch, they all develop at their own rate

Mirror, Mirror, In the pail, Who's that hen with the long black tail? I am sooooo beautiful?"


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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I really enjoyed the photo essay and the captions. I have never had chickens and have always wanted them. So I am always interested in seeing pictures of how other people keep them. Before you all say I could have them, unless they are in the house (pet house chickens?)it is against city ordinaces here and I am not willing to break the law. I guess no chickens for me.

From your comments I guess that foxes, coyotes, cats or racoons got whatever chickens you had before. I like this batch but if they were different I would like that too. But they are very pretty and sweet looking. I figgure you keep them for fresh eggs. The buff ones really did grow much bigger than the dark ones.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 8:15PM
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Are you trying to give me "chicken fever" again? If only I had your energy to take care of all that you do. The Buffs are beautiful.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 8:20PM
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Lovely chickens, annie. DH won't even discuss 2 little chickens. You8 know I have room. Meany.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 9:32PM
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OOoohh how kewl is that! Chickens are on my list for things to try next year. I know nothing whatsoever about them, but my husband has raised quail and pidgeons for years that he uses to train his bird dogs (mostly they just get to go free thank goodness).

I want layers - no chicken slaughter in Cindy's chicken house. I am most interested - what kind of coop have you tried? I am picturing something that belongs in one of the pics in the Potager garden forum with a sign, little blue chicken house with shutters, wire baskets to collect the eggs - LOL.

So glad you posted and I saw this. :) Are these the best kinds to raise? I bought a book and got very very confused!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 9:49PM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

How cute! How exciting! I can tell you're an old hand at this, while I'm a newbie. Do they lay white or brown eggs?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 5:19PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Annie, they are just beautiful. I really like the way you take us through their first few months step by step.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 6:43PM
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I have never raised the Black Sex-Links before, but have had the Buffs and loved them. They are very docile - too docile. They don't fight or struggle to protect themselves, so they were EASY Pickin's for all kinds of predators. This time, they are not getting out of the run.

The Buff Orpingtons are the sweetest and most gentle of all chickens - that is not my opinion, that is in any description you find on the breed. They don't like to be picked up. They scream bloody murder, but they don't peck or scratch. They will eat out of your hand and sit on your lap if you get them used to you. They grow to be very heavy birds and get fluffier as they get fatter bodies. These chicken are called "dual purpose" chickens because they are for meat and eggs production, although I can't see myself eating "my girls". Buffs are not massive egg producers and that suits me fine because we are massive egg eaters! They are also later to start laying then other breeds. They make great surrogate mothers for other hens.

Below is a Link to a great website about Buff Orpingtons and Back Yard Chicken Raising. I wish I had such an industrious man to build me a chicken coup and run like that. Their chickens are more like pets than my girls.

GG, it also shows the color of their eggs - a terracotta pink or brick pink perhaps. You will notice on the website how pale their feet are compared to my hen's feet. Well, when chicks and hens are young, their feet are bright yellow. When they begin to lay eggs their feet turn a pale, dull color. When they get old and stop laying, their feet turn more yellow again. (If you ever get an adult hen, then check out her feet. They will tell you if she is laying eggs or ready for the soup pot. Some people will try to cheat you into buying their old hens that no longer lay eggs.) These are things (and more) that you learn over time if you stick with it long enough.

Raising small livestock like chickens is not something to go into lightly. It is a lot of work. Don't be fooled by cute websites that only show you the highlights and super clean conditions and it is always spring or summer on those website. (amazing!)

No matter what the weather, they have to be cared for everyday. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail storms, flashfloods, heat waves, blizzards, ice doesn't matter. They are totally dependent upon you!

You can't go off on holidays or the weekend and leave them unless you get someone competent to care for them while you are gone.

You must change their water every day (or more often depending up the weather). You must provide them food, scratch and greens and a sturdy safe place to live and a run that has both a sunny spot for dust baths and shade for when it is hot. You have to keep their living quarters clean and disease free. Hay for nests and floor liter and that needs to be cleaned out periodically and new hay laid down. You need to spray clean and scrub their living quarters down with water and bleach once a year to kill insects, disease and mites. Mice LOVE chicken pens and coops, so then do snakes and other predators looking for rodents and chicken eggs.

They need baths occasionally. When they get fat and sassy they sometimes have difficulty preening their bottoms and get doody stuck on their bums. You have to get it off in warm soapy water and then a good warm water rinse. If it is cold out, you will have to bring them in the house and do it. (I have seldom had to do this, but I have had to a few times) In the summer months when it is hot, I just get a new large cat litter pan and set it in their run and partially fill with water. They love to splash and play in it and bath in cool, clean water just like all other birds do. Then dump it, clean it with soapy water and rinse and give them fresh water the next day. They have to be dusted for mites from time to time, which they do not like. If you don't, they will get mites and mites will get on you too.

Not trying to scare any of you wanna-be-chicken lovers away from trying your hand at it, but being realistic with you about it. Most websites don't mention any of the nasty stuff.

Okay, as for the Black Sex-Links, this breed is really new to me. I do know they are hybrid chickens. They do not breed true, as they are a cross between a male of one breed and a female from another breed to get the resulting characteristics wanted by the breeder. There are many kinds of them, but most common are reds and blacks. I had reddish brown ones for several years and I loved them. They looked just like the ones I have now, blue feet and all. They lay brown eggs. They are small little chickens. They were great chickens and among my favorites.They are closer to being wild chickens. Lay lots of eggs and are excellent bug and snake hunters. When Sex-links are chicks you can easily distinguish the males from the females. The male chicks look like their rooster father's breed and the female chicks look like their mother hen's breed. I think that is cool.

Here is what I found on Sex-Links:
Sex-Link Color
: A sex-linked chicken is one who's gender can be easily determined at hatching due to males and females being different colors. Without any genetic mutations, we can expect the following to be true:

Barred hen + non-barred rooster = Barred males and Non-Barred females
Gold hen + silver rooster = Silver males and Gold females
* Barred rock hen + Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire Red rooster = Black with white spot on head male and solid black female (this is a Black Sex Link or Black Star)

Those are just a few examples of the various sex-linked combinations.
(* Note: Black Sex-Link or Black Stars are what I have)
I've read that you can tell what color of eggs a chicken lays by their earlobe color. I know that if they have red earlobes, then they lay brown eggs. If they have white earlobes, they lay white eggs.

Here is a link that might be useful: Back Yard Chickens - Buff Orpingtons

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 8:06PM
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lois(PA Zone 6)

I like the smaller black ones; so cute! Wish I could rent chickens to eat all the bugs in my yard!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 10:49PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

Annie, that is excellent information. I know someone who has just started to delve into the world of hens and I am going to pass this on to her. Thanks for taking the time to give all this info.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 9:29AM
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We have seven chicks, each a different kind. They are great!! We did get one unusual chick. It's some sort of pious breed of aracauna. You can see its yarmulke in the picture. Some people have said it looks like and acorn, but I'm pretty sure it's a yarmulke.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 10:29PM
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It does look like a Yarmulke though, doesn't it. Sing a Yiddish song and see if she dances. :)

Hava nagila,
Have nagila,
Hava nagila,
Ve' nismecha.

I like that to dance to.
Is she dancing?

Okay, it IS the cap of an acorn, right?

She is a real beauty and so cute!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2010 at 11:36PM
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So, it's YOUR fault! We thought a fox was getting in the henhouse, and it was just Lydia hearing you sing! Caused quite a commotion among the other girls!

P.S. I can't speak to the acorn. Far be it from me to hinder her expressions of faith...but it does look awfully like an acorn, doesn't it ? ;-)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 6:09PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

Nice birds Annie and Deanna.

Big chicken fan here; I'm got a small clutch of Rose Comb Ancona eggs in the incubator right now. Here's two of my snappy little penguins, um, chicks from the earliest part of the hatch a couple of days ago.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 9:28AM
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Oh, I love black and white chickens.
I looked for some here, but couldn't find them.
The roosters are especially beautiful.

Those are just the most adorable little mates.


Thank you both for joining in this "Chick-in Dance".


    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 10:36AM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Must be great to have access to fresh eggs! Even though we live in the middle of the city we're allowed so many hens. Unfortunately, we don't have the room to dedicate to a nice coop. I'd have to give up flower beds and I'm not willing to do that.

Cindy, there's a blog I occasionally read where someone has built a beautiful coop. Here's a link if you're interested.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hen house update

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 6:27PM
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OK, that is NOT a chicken coop. It's a chicken estate...or a chicken resort...or a chicken country club...or a chicken manor.

I guess it qualifies as a "gated community?'' Get it? HAHAHA! I just crack myself up, even if nobody else laughs.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 7:28PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Deanna, it is gorgeous isn't it! That lady doesn't do anything simple. Everything is over the top, but I do love the coop.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 7:35PM
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I love that coop! Actually it looks a lot like the one I'd rather picked out and have been working on my husband to build. I'd kind of like to paint mine that same blue, though, of Lisa's potting shed. Out back someplace by the vegie garden. This one is a little smaller and simpler and my goodness the RUN on that one is over the top for a few chickens - I mean they have a regular state park's worth of ranging they can do - LOL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Coop I Had Picked Out

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 7:43PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I just love all the chicken pictures. Especially those little black and white ones above. I check out anything new on the 'chicken thread' right away.

I read that hen house blog on the link too, thanks! I thought it was very interesting. Did you all notice the pretty hen pictured at the very end? Wow, she sure is a beauty!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 7:44PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

I'm up to 6 peeper dudes now, with four more eggs in the incubator, and a broody hen taking care of another three for 9 total. (never count the eggs before they hatch)

Actually, I'm setting eggs specifically from one pair, so once a week, I start a new "mini-clutch". 21 days later, once they're out of the shells, dried and fluffed, I use 10 gallon aquariums for a brooder; they're easy to see (fun to watch), draft free, and just big enough for up to five chicks for about two weeks.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 12:08PM
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Where did you get those eggs to hatch? I want some of those black and whites! Maybe if you don't live too far away, I could buy some chicks from you. Seriously.
Send me an email if you would consider it.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 2:05PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

CYE. :^)

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:38PM
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