My dad informed us a few weeks ago that he was getting chickens. Of course, he joked that he was going to get 3,000, but then confessed he was debating between twelve and eighteen. I said why not four, since he doesn’t really even like to eat chicken and hens laying four eggs a day (maybe maximum) would be 28 eggs a week, and more than what we/they could consume. But he said no.
So here’s the story …
Dad went to the store. Guy asked him how many he wanted, and Dad said he couldn’t decide between twelve and eighteen. The guy said there was 26 in the tank. Dad’s friend asked, “Are you sure that’s all?” and the guy assured them there was only 26. So, Dad being “Dad” didn’t want to leave the remaining eight (if he got eighteen), and agreed to take them all.
ISA Browns are some sort of secret hybrid chicken developed in the 1970’s for high egg production. The Barred Rocks are (maybe) a type of Plymouth Rock and also known for egg production as well as a meat bird (also known as “dual purpose”). Both are supposed to have brown eggs. Some people think they taste better, or even better for you, but I have yet to have a different “flavored” egg. I will say – the farm-raised, FRESH, eggs have more flavor to them and seem to be a “better” egg – harder shell, more appealing, yellow yolks, and just a better quality.
So the first thing I learned about chicks coming onto the farm – “Pasty Butts”. Bleh. I had heard about it but discarded most of the information. I figured we’d be the lucky ones and not have to worry about it. Boy was I wrong!
What is pasty butt? It’s where the chicks poop and it gets stuck to their butts. If left unattended, it blocks them up and then sends bacteria/toxins back into their body and kills them. And most of the chicks Dad got had it. It can be because of multiple reasons, most of which involves stress of transport and getting overheated (even when they clump together because they’re cold).
Of course, after I’m scraping poop off chick butts, I find out you’re supposed to rinse them under warm water, dry them off so they don’t get chilled, put Vaseline on their butts if it’s irritated yada yada yada … Well … I didn’t do any of that because 1) We didn’t know; and 2) I was doing it the way my Dad’s friend had done it (by scraping it off with something and bringing tail fuzz with it if necessary) and he had taken care of chickens many years ago and they survived, so why not?
And then I learned MORE. I learned that the Barred Rocks can produce 200-280 eggs a year. Each. Each one of those 16 chicks once they reach adulthood. That’s nearly 5,000 eggs. And then those cute, little, fluffy ISA Browns? THREE. HUNDRED. Three hundred a year! Times eighteen!! That’s 5,400 eggs a year!! Total – TEN THOUSAND EGGS!!
I really don’t think we need ten thousand eggs a year!
The saving grace (or salt in the wound, depending on how you look at it), is that the Barred Rocks may have been mis-diagnosed as pullets (or females). Dad thought he bought all pullets. “According to the internet,” the Barred Rock Roosters (males) have dots on their heads. Females don’t. Looking at his chicks – about 14 of the 16 have dots, meaning 14 of the 16 might be roosters! Only time will tell who’s right – the store or the internet! And if they are, in fact, roos, then we need to figure out a place to butcher them because I’m not sure we’re quite up to that task!
So – needless to say – we’ll be having eggs this summer! If you’re in the area and the market, drop us a note and ask if there’s any available! We’ll also be posting on the Facebook Page when we start getting eggs, so be sure to “Like/Follow” for more frequent updates!
I can’t get enough of these guys – after working with them a few days their personalities are starting to come out and they’re getting so big so fast! I can’t hardly keep up with them!
What’s your history of raising chickens? Have you ever gotten more than you figured?? Tell us your chicken stories in the comments below!
Check out the video – more to come!