Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

Lily & Beauty sharing a nest


Tomato, pepper, eggplant, and herb seedlings

150' of onion seedlings

Kirby, our gorgeous Silver Phoenix Rooster

The little Horses

Here at Crazy Daisy we have a flock of chickens. Forty individuals in all, they range in age from 6 months to 7 years old. They’re primarily pets and kept for sheer enjoyment.

We started out with 26 females expecting to get lots of eggs and possibly butcher them in the future for wonderful humanely raised meat. I was not expecting the variety of personalities and affection they developed for me. It quickly became apparent that we would not be using these hens for meat. They became pets with the added benefit of producing eggs.

In the third year of keeping chickens I decided I was ready to hatch chicks from my own flock. It was AMAZING to see the chicks develop and hatch then see them grow up. This experience taught me a very valuable lesson. I can’t get rid of the extra roosters, I get far too attached. So I went back to ordering chicks. That’s why we have 8 resident roosters at the farm.

Apollo is the second chick I ever hatched

Seeing the variety of breeds available I started branching out into the more ornamental breeds like Phoenix, Yokohama’s, Lakenvelder, and the big fluffy Cochin’s & Brahma’s. They’re very pretty but lay far fewer eggs. This proved to be a blessing.

Ruffles (left) and Roy show the size difference between some breeds

Sadly domestic chickens (yes there are wild chickens too :) ) are bred to produce an astounding 250-350 eggs per year. Their bodies are not designed to maintain this level of laying and will often develop cancer/reproductive infections in later years. I lost 23 of the original 26 hens within the first 5 years of their lives. It was devastating.

Ella was my special pet who died last summer of reproductive cancer at 6 years of age

The flock I have now is a mishmash of 19 different pure breeds and 8 different mutts. None lay nearly as many eggs as the real hardcore laying breeds. But we do still have eggs for sale every once in a while.

Last years chicks are just starting to lay their first eggs. Despite the problems that can come with too many eggs, it’s still an exciting time. It signals their full integration into the flock and their personalities really start to bloom. I’m looking forward to the new year with my flock and hope you’ll stop by to see them next summer.

We’re starting to get the first eggs from our young hens, it’s a very exciting thing to walk into the coop and have a tiny egg in the nest box.

Larka was the first of all, she’s been laying pretty well for a week now.


Larka's First Egg

This pretty girl is a Mottled Ancona. She’s an independent lady, once she lays her egg she’s off to her next adventure. It’s typical of her breed to dash off after laying, and they’re very productive so it’s no surprise she was first out of the gate.

Last week we also gathered another small pale cream egg. I was too late to see who laid it although I have my suspicions…

Stay tuned!

The recent winds caused some minor damage to the the chicken yard.

Blew the door clean off!

The wood splintered in half and stayed attached to the gate. Luckily the chickens were locked up that day because of the awful weather, so no one was injured.

I hope your hatches were battened down!

The chickens yards are littered with feathers, but it’s nothing to be worried about! The flock is starting it’s yearly molt.

Feathers become old and worn as time goes on thus they lose their ability to insulate and need to be replaced. Every year around this time the chickens start to lose their old feathers and grow new ones to prepare for the winter. It’s something all birds do, from penguins to ostriches.

New feathers are very neat looking, wrapped up in a membrane that looks like paper. It allows the new feather to push through the skin. Once the new feather is through, the membrane over it is removed by the bird as it grooms.

Molting isn’t painful, but it is uncomfortable and very physically demanding, so the chickens tend to be crabbier during this time. Egg production is also down because they’re focusing their energy on growing new feathers.

I’ve been supplementing their diet with extra protein in the form of cat food. It may seem strange but chickens are naturally omnivores and prefer meat whenever they can get it. In the wild they eat small birds and lizards, even actively hunting for them. You might not expect it but chickens are fierce predators!

January 2018
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