Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Chickens: More Than You Needed to Know

We currently have three kinds of chickens: 1 Black Australorp, 3 Rhode Island Reds, and 3 Buff Orpingtons.  We've had chickens in the past, and (by far) our favorites were the Buff Orpingtons, but the feed store where we bought them only had three left.  So, we ended up getting 2 Australorps and 3 Rhode Island Reds to fill out our flock.

We've had the Reds before too, and even though they're amazing layers and very hardy, we didn't like them.  The rooster used to attack me and my mom ALL the time, and they're sleek rather than fluffy and cute.  The Reds in our current flock are a little younger than the rest, and it looks like they're all going to be female (too bad, since I was looking forward to some roast chicken, and my dad said we could eat the boys).  The Australorps are actually Australia's version of the Buff Orpingtons (Australian + Orpington = Austral-Orps), and are supposed to be good-natured as well, but I'll reserve judgment till ours gets a little older.

Like I said, the Buff Orpingtons are our favorites.  They get super fat and fluffy butts, like they're wearing huge feathery diapers (so it's pretty funny to watch them waddle around).  Plus, they're excellent egg layers, and they're really gentle and friendly.  The ones in our old flock used to follow my dad around.

My parents also claim they taste better, but I've never tried one.  The hawks in our area certainly seemed to agree though, since they picked off most of the Orpingtons in our last flock.

On a side note, Buff Orpingtons tend to get broody and are good mommies, so we were hoping that one of the three would turn out to be a rooster. Then, we'd get new adorable fluffy yellow babies in our flock eventually!!  Actually, at the very least, we figured at least one of the six chicks we bought would be a boy (it's really hard to sex chicks), but it looks like they might all be female.  So, I may have to go out and hunt up a rooster at some point.  Sucks (because I HATE ROOSTERS), but you do need one if you're raising chickens in a big and open area.  After all, roosters are the ones that keep watch, and attack anything that would be dangerous to the other chickens.

Aren't they getting big??  But, sadly, we did lose one of the Australorps about a week ago.  My dad heard mayhem outside and opened a window to see what was going on.  Elizabeth had the Australorp's body in her mouth, and dropped it when she heard him.  So, we know she had it last, but we're not sure who actually killed the poor baby.  

Personally, out of the three suspects, my bet is on:

Mocha doesn't usually attack chickens, but baby Australorps look exactly like sparrows, which she definitely DOES like to hunt.  She's also the only carnivore who could have scaled the fence to get in and out of the chicken run.

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