What a way to start the day! Now for the chicks . . .
We tried an experiment this time: We bought chicks from a breeder in Soddy-Daisy (about 35 miles from here) who breeds several different varieties. The advantage for us is that we don't have to purchase a minimum of 25 chicks.
We also don't have to worry about how they will survive two days of shipping by the U.S. Post Office. It only took me three hours to drive up there and bring them back, and they only had an hour or so of travel time.
We ordered four chicks each of four different dual purpose varieties.
The idea is that (roughly) half of them should turn out to be pullets and become good egg-layers. The half that turn out to be cockerels will be butchered for meat before they get to the Nasty Rooster stage. That's the reason for choosing dual purpose breeds, because they're good for both eggs and meat.
The reason for choosing different breeds is to see what else is out there. While I love my green eggs, when I order "Ameraucanas" from a hatchery, they are really mutt chickens or "Easter eggers," and only half of them end up laying blue or green eggs.
We get lots of brown eggs, especially since the fox seemed to like our green-eggers best. (sniff!) If we're going to be getting brown eggs, anyway, we might as well try some other highly-recommended breeds.
The reason for ordering only 16 chicks is that we really only need 8 laying hens to pick up the slack as our "old girls" age, and we have plenty of the Freedom Rangers left in the freezer.
Meet our new chicks:
This is a Light Brahma. They are an Asian Indian breed which gets very heavy (8 lbs. for hens up to 10 lbs. for roosters). They are good layers of cream colored eggs, about 3 a week. They are quiet, gentle, winter hardy, and good mothers (in case we should get a nice rooster!) Apparently, they're the quintessential pet chicken! Note the feathers on the baby's legs; it will keep its "hairy" legs!
This is a Welsummer. They're a Dutch breed, and the rooster is THE Kellogg's rooster! (We'll see if we let one get that big . . .) They are medium weight (6-8 lbs). They are very good layers of large dark brown eggs, about 4 per week. They are winter hardy, good foragers, thrifty eaters, and friendly.
We only got three Welsummers, so I'm hoping for two hens and only one roo.
This is a Black Australorp. They're an Australian version of the British Orpington, so we're getting quite international! They are medium weight (6-8 lbs.) They are excellent layers of large brown eggs, about 5 per week. They are winter hardy, shy, sweet and dignified.
This is an Ameraucana--a real one, or so says the breeder. She says her Ameraucanas are purebred and all lay blue eggs. They are medium weight (5.5-7 lbs.) They are not really dual purpose, being bred as good layers of medium blue eggs, about 3 per week. However, I am told their meat is good, and we thought our former "Ameraucana" rooster Wren made a great coq au vin! They are winter hardy.
We ended up with five Ameraucanas, but I'll take the extra chance of blue eggs.
Ameraucana and Welsummer. Can you tell the difference? (See Comments for answer.)
One of each: Light Brahma, Black Australorp, Ameraucana, and Welsummer. Weren't they clever to group themselves like that?
It's great having the chicks in the laundry room. They're all eating and drinking just fine, but I like to keep my eye on new babies to make sure they adapt, and this way I can check on them frequently without having to run all the way out to the brooder house.
And on top of that, I have the perfect excuse not to do laundry--the chicks are on top of the washing machine!