May 15, 2013

Chicken Wrangling

On Saturday hubby and I went outside to work on the new goat fence. I heard hubby yell to me, and I ran outside. One of my white and black roosters was in the front yard near the goat pen, with Sissy nearby. Amazingly, the pup who seldom listens to me actually called off, and I put the dogs back in the house.

My chickens are kept penned up for their own protection from the local predators. Even with Juliet and Cracker, the outside dogs, I won't let the chickens loose. Cracker is untrustworthy around birds anyway, and Juliet lives here because she killed chickens at her former home, so they aren't really any help as far as poultry goes.

The white and black rooster then caught sight of the road and made a run for it, intent on "crossing the road". Fortunately our front gate is lined with chicken wire and put an end to his quest for fame and freedom. Hubby caught him and we headed to the chicken coop to see what disaster had befallen.

We found a big hole in the mesh of the screen door, Cracker-sized. Inside, one of the hens appeared dead, although when hubby picked her up she flapped her wings and was fine after that. The other birds were hiding in corners and out in the run. It was too hard to count with birds piled on top of other birds, but I could see that the two important hens, Flower and Nemo, were still inside.

We fixed the door, lining it with goat fencing. Later in the day while working on the goat fence, I heard a hen making noise from the wrong direction. I walked around behind a shed and found both my dark red hen and the black-breasted red rooster. With careful herding I sent them towards the chicken coop and caught the hen. The rooster wanted nothing to do with me, and since I have FIVE roosters and only SIX hens, I told that rooster I really didn't care. At sundown he was willing to follow me into the coop and settle down for the night. I noticed that another white and black rooster was missing though. I could hear him way out in the woods and decided not to attempt what I knew would be an impossible task to rescue him. I now have four roosters.

In my coop there are now 3 red star hens...

one cuckoo marans hen named Speckles...

one black hen (a buff orpington/black australorp cross) named Flower...

and Nemo, the gold hen flecked with black...

Nemo was one of the chicks we hatched several years ago, a cross between our buff orpington rooster and an americana hen. I was never sure which hen was their mother, but we incubated many batches of eggs that year and each chick that looked like Nemo when it hatched grew up to be a gold-flecked-with-black female that laid green eggs. See, you can hatch your own sex link chickens!

In fact, those white and black roosters are a sex link cross. A friend gave me a dozen chicks from the batch they incubated, and all of the yellow chicks turned out to be white cockerels with black markings. (I still need to give three of those four roosters away.)

The hatcheries have their own sex link crosses of course, and you can duplicate those breedings (I wrote a post on this here), but sometimes it happens with other random crosses as well. It takes time and record-keeping, but after a year or so you might realize you've discovered an accidental cross that will give you chicks you can sex as soon as they are hatched. Wouldn't that be handy?

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1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got most of your chickens wrangled up! Too bad for the rooster. Have a great week!


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