Archives for posts with tag: heritage breed

In addition to our little meaties (see previous post), we’ve added a Buff Orpington rooster and another buff hen to our flock.  They were a little neglected and bedraggled when we first brought them home, but they’re starting to fill out and fit in nicely.  Meet Lloyd:

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He takes his guard duty seriously!!  A couple of days ago he even sounded the alarm and fended off a hungry coyote until Brian could get the rifle and take it down.

About ten days after the addition of Lloyd, one of our big blacks decided to go broody and is now almost a week into sitting on a giant clutch of eggs.

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Very excited to see little babies peeping out from under her.  We’re trying to increase our egg flock, and happy enough to let Mama do the incubation work.

That said, right before she went broody, we actually bought an incubator!  We weren’t entirely sure if Lloyd was doing his job, so decided to buy some eggs we knew were fertile, even though they’re basically a barnyard special collection of mixed heritage breeds.  We’ll probably sell the chicks, but wanted to run a test batch to get the hang of incubation.

They should be hatching about the time the meaties are ready to be moved outside, and about the same time as Mama Hen’s little ones start showing up.  My money’s on her having a better percentage, but unfortunately she only broods when she feels like it. 🙂

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There had been some uncertainty as to whether or not we were actually going to stay here.  This translated into a complete lack of updates.  Now it looks like we’re likely here for the long run.  Just as well, I think.

From that last batch of 10 Buff Orpingtons… 4 got eaten by a hawk (tho I later got the hawk, so I’m not too torn up about it).  Of the remaining six, four were roosters who went in the freezer, and two were hens that integrated seamlessly with our blacks.  We now have a total of eight Orpington laying hens and more eggs than we know what to do with.
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You can also now follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/gnomelandgardens/ for bits and pieces that may not make it onto the blog proper.

We’ve ordered 30 meat birds of a breed that the local hatchery is offering for the first time called Western Rustic.  They’re supposed to be much more hardy and slower growing than the Cornish… I certainly hope so!  I never want to raise Cornish again.  Too much death for no reason I could pinpoint.  They’ll be ready for pick-up March 23rd, so stay tuned for chicken updates!

This is the size difference between eggs produced by our year old hens and our five month old hens.  The shade of brown seems to vary by bird.  All of them are tasty!image

This is Baldie. She’d been overbred before we got her. Now she’s starting to grow back her feathers again, and enjoying a nice dust bath. Despite her scraggly appearance, she’s a fantastic layer.
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The ladies we raised from babies are finally starting to lay. Itty bitty pullet eggs, but they eat fine!
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We discovered our dog doesn’t bother them at all, so now we just let the flock roam during the day. They stick pretty close to the house, and are quite sociable if you’re outside. We did poorly on the genetic lottery… only got 4 girls out of 16. The roosters were tasty but we were hoping for more hens.

Found another batch of 10 Orpington chicks that we’re picking up tomorrow. Buffs this time. Looking forward to raising them again!

We did another batch of meat birds inbetween, and they’re just miserable compared to the Orpingtons. Nice to have a full freezer, but will be happy when they’re done. Still have about 30 to butcher this week.

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Our Blue Orpingtons are now 13 weeks old.

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Around 11 weeks the roosters started learning to crow. They’re still not very good at it. It sounds like teenage boys with their cracking voices!

We killed one to see what we’d get and how it tastes compared to the Cornish.  It’s currently chilling in the fridge overnight. Skinny breasts but giant thighs.

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We’ll likely gradually cull and eat the roosters… we don’t particularly want them breeding with their sisters!!

We did also acquire three full grown laying hens today. Super excited to go egg hunting! image

The one in the middle is kinda bald from over-breeding, but it should grow back soon and she’ll be alright now  They integrated pretty seamlessly with our flock – some minor scuffles but no serious fighting.

We put in nest “boxes” (buckets) yesterday… our main flock isn’t quite old enough to lay but should be starting soon.

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Love the blue/green/purple undertones that show up in their feathers in sunshine.

Today we added another length of electric fence to the chicken yard, thus greatly increasing its size. These birds are voracious foragers, and had decimated the grass inside their smaller yard. This addition should help since it’s easy to move to fresh pasture as they need it.
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They’re very curious.
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They also have very little fear of us anymore. 🙂
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Hand feeding not actually the best idea though – they don’t have very good aim!
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