Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rainy Sunday

It's cold and rainy today, a good day to stay inside in my PJs, wrapped in a quilt. I see a Great Blue Heron fishing in our pond. I hope he catches a few blue gills, we have too many!

The chicks are snug in their little coop. Mom came over yesterday for dinner and we visited the chicks while she was here. She gets a kick out of them and remembers the white ones they had when she was a little girl. She played with them too.

Mom had questions for me about the chicks and I did the best I could to answer them. She wanted to know how to tell the difference between the boys and the girls. I showed her the difference between the dark Barred Rocks (female) and the light Barred Rocks (male). The two Barred Rock chicks near the stump in this photo illustrate the difference. Then I picked up an Australorp rooster to show her his really short tail and thick shanks. Their voices are also very different, something we noticed from day one. And in the large breeds especially, the females will get their feathers much faster than the males. This is especially noticeable in their second week. The females will look nicely feathered out while the males are still in the awkward phase with both fluff and feathers.

I think the Australorp roosters are going to end up on our table. They spend too much time keeping the girls in line and I don't want my hens stressed with that nonsense. Roo, the Barred Rock, doesn't seem to care much what the girls are doing and Rudy, the Buff Orpington, keeps them in line without pecking them roughly. Silver, the Hamburg, doesn't pay them much mind but he does compete with the other roosters to maintain his status near the top. The top rooster is Hector (above) followed by Achilles, pictured below. He earned his name because one of his toes was dislocated when he came to us, probably due to rough treatment at the hatchery. He recovered just fine though and is a nice boy to us. The Australorp boys are just a bit too rough on the girls for my liking, though. These boys are enormous for their age! They are twice as big as little Betty and Sweet Pea, the Barred Rock girls.


  1. Amy- most of the time I can usually tell by the comb if it's a rooster or a hen... by the time they are a couple of weeks old, the roosters' combs will start to be more prominent than the hens. It's not always easy to tell, especially if they are the crested breeds, but usually I can still see the difference in them. Is Sweet Pea still doing o.k.?

  2. Paula, I tried the comb method too but Sweet Pea's comb was pink well before Betty's was and I didn't know what to make of that. Sweet Pea is doing great now, thanks for asking. She and Betty are so much alike in personality and they both like to be held and gently stroked. I can't believe how tame they are! I wish all my girls were like that.

  3. None of my chicks like to be picked up. many of them come a-runnin when I go into the coop as I usually bear gifts. I either have hyper birds (likely with many of the breeds) or I shouldn't have chased them around with a broom when they were little! (I didn't do that) Your chicks are looking great! I love the word Australorp, I need to get some of those.

  4. Don, my son has helped a lot to tame some of the skittish birds. He's good at picking them up and holding them for a few minutes. Are you going to try some different breeds in the future? If you were my neighbor, I'd offer you some of my extras. I don't need this many!!!

  5. Hey, Amy. Our daughter helps a lot to tame our birds too. She loves to be out with them, petting them and picking them up gently. Next year, I want to diversify more... we just got 25 of the Buff Orpingtons because that was what the local farm store had. I'm enjoying reading about the Australorps though - they sound like fun.

    You have a beautiful coop and run!


  6. Ron, thank you for your compliment on the coop and run. It was my hubby's concept and design. He's quite handy!

    If I had to do it over again, I'd order nothing but Rocks. Out of the Orpingtons, only two are my kind of bird, and out of the Australorps only half of them are what I'm looking for personality wise. However, all but one of the Barred Rocks are great birds.

    Next year I'm going to get a few Partridge Rocks and some Brahmas. I've heard good things about the Brahmas and am curious enough to try them. I also want some Barnevelders and/or Welsumers for their dark brown egg and personalities.

    Obviously, I'm going to half to cull half my birds in order to get more, but that's part of the plan too. We want fresh chicken that we raised ourselves for dinner!


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