Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Something to Crow About!

(December chicks)
Halfway through December, we decided to take the plunge from the comfortable position of acquiring full grown chickens to the new frontier of raising chicks. We wanted to add some color to our egg basket, and the only Easter Egger chickens we could find, were day-old chicks. The person selling them, claimed to be able to 'feather-sex' them which meant that the chances of us ending up with a better than 50/50 ratio of roosters or hens, would be significantly higher in our favor. So, we bought all the supplies to build our own brooder box from the local feed store and paid the extra $2 per chick for 'pullets' (hens).

(Back row, left to right: Popcorn, unnamed, Flutter. Front chick: Burnside)

Three weeks in, just when we thought we'd gotten the hang of adjusting temperatures, accepting the fact that chicks will scatter ⅔ of their food while eating the remainder and patiently clearing and re-clearing their water dish of the shavings they constantly scratch into it, one of the chicks died. They were all fine one morning, and 3 hours later, one was dead for no apparent reason. We later learned that this 'sudden death' thing isn't uncommon with chicks and thankfully, we haven't repeated the experience.

(the survivors)
We moved the chicks out of the pantry and to the garage around 8wks old. They were technically old enough to no longer need the heat lamp, but that week was the week of our winter deep freeze, so I felt sorry for them and set them up in a bigger box with an oil heater out in the garage. When everything thawed out, I moved them to the hen house along with their heater for another week or so, gradually lowering the temperature settings until they were braving the rest of the winter like all the big chickens.

But by the time I moved the chicks outside, I had some serious doubts regarding whether they were all pullets or not. As time went on, it became more and more clear that Flutter and Popcorn were definitely NOT hens. Popcorn even croaked/crowed at me once when I went in to let the chickens out for the day one morning. And Burnside was becoming a more expensive hen all the while because the city rules are that, roosters are not allowed in our zone. This means we will have to either eat them or sell them for someone else to eat, and our hen was a '1 for the price of 4' deal.

Today was pretty exciting around here because Burnside laid her first egg! She officially went from 'pullet' to 'hen' status. It was so much fun to show the kids our first green egg. Ricka's smile was priceless. And Emma was so excited, she could barely contain herself. Even stoic PC cracked a pretty big grin when I showed him today's egg carton. Dolly didn't even see the egg because she thought it was a wad of colored paper at first. Even Hal was excited, but he just thought it was a ball and tried to throw it when he finally got close enough to make a grippy-fingered grab at it. It was definitely worth waiting 21 weeks for!

(Leghorn, Australorp & Olive EE)
Technically an Easter Egger chicken is a cross between an Araucana or Ameraucana (both of which lay a blue egg) and any other breed of chicken. Because they are a 'cross breed' the colors that Easter Eggers lay, can be almost any shade of blue or green and can even be light pink! We discovered today, that Burnside is an 'Olive Egger' EE, as she presented us with a very green egg.

Burnside's egg is noticeably smaller than our average egg, but that's just because she's young. Her eggs will get slowly get bigger and should be comparable to the other chickens in just a few weeks.

And now we'll have a rainbow egg selection! So much fun!


  1. Love that green egg! So you got 1 chicken for the price of 4? Was Heidi's the 5th?

  2. No, Heidi's was in a batch we got in February. The December chicks were locally hatched by the lady I bought them from. She later ordered the February chicks from a US hatchery and imported them so they should have all been hens since the hatcheries can check the gender. I think we still ended up with a rooster though. They put a '99% accuracy' disclaimer up to cover any errors. :) But somebody has to get that 1% occasionally. :)

  3. We are in the process of hen raising as well, though our kids would love to get a rooster. So fun!