Reprieve, Not a Pardon

This weekend Mr. Ranger Sir and I had plans to to cull the roosters from our not so tiny flock on his only day off  for the next few weeks.   Instead of the wonderful early summer weather we had planned for, we had wind, rain, and cold temperatures.   We decided that we were not going to stand outside and butcher under those conditions just to get rid of the roosters.

No one needs as many roosters as we have.    We have leftover packing peanuts from when our baby chicks were shipped to us.   After years of never getting a wrong sexed bird, we got two this year.    So we are feeding lots of chickens for no other purpose to fatten them up.    Our roosters were finally just large enough to butcher.   Now seemed like a good time because their personalities have not turned nasty towards  humans, dogs,  one another or the hens.     Except for two of them, they are big ugly roosters, the male counter part of sex linked hybrids. Ok…ok…ugly might be to0 harsh of a word but they are definitely not handsome roosters like the barred rock or the gold laced wyandotte.     The fact we decided not to put ourselves out in such adverse weather conditions means the roos  have received a reprieve not a pardon.    Next date the bus leaves for a freezer camp is sometime after the 7th of July.   Lets hope everything stays peaceful until then and we don’t regret our decision.

Stop Chasing the Cute One

Cute Chicks Sway Me!

Cute Chicks Sway Me!

Women can be quite snarky about another woman who is good looking.   That is where all the dumb blond jokes came from.  When men notice a nice looking woman, we often comment about what he might be thinking with, and it isn’t his brain.  I hate to admit but I too have been chasing the “good looking” chicks.

For years I have been trying all different sorts of of breeds of chickens.  I am constantly trying out all the cute, pretty and unusual chicks.   If they are considered an egg layer and someone suggests they might forage, develop some meat on their bones,  and not have  too aggressive of a personality, I wanted them.   I like nice easy chicks, and if they have big breasts it made them nicer.  Picking my birds this way has  let to  quite an assortment chicks who have come through the door of my coop  over the years.   I have tried them all out.  Some have been one-time wonders and others I have invited back to visit another time or two.

This year’s birds have ate more commercial feed  than any other flock I have had.   They have a tendency to stay in the coop and eat all day at the feeder rather than get out in the pasture and forage.   The flock seems to be burning through feed  almost as fast as I can buy it.   Most summers I go through about 50 pounds of feed for the whole season.   This last 100 pounds disappeared  in just a couple of weeks.   When you buy good quality feed and the birds do little foraging, your eggs  very quickly  become expensive.  It was my light bulb moment when the I hit the bottom of the garbage can I store my feed in.  I realized I am not bringing the right chicks home anymore.  I am being swayed by the cute one and not thinking with my analytical   brain.   I need to stop chasing the cute ones and stick with the ladies who can make me breakfast and then be there for dinner too.

Next year I will be going back the chicks who are keepers.   I want girls who lay lots of  large eggs in the morning, will forage well all day, and  fill out nicely for a dinner.    No more chasing  the “good looking” chicks.

Integrated Flock Eating

This year’s young chicks snitch food out the layer’s feeder.

One of the problems of integrating a flock is feeding them.   There is a danger of too much calcium for little chicks if they eat calcium-rich layer food too soon.   On the other hand your layers need calcium to lay eggs with fully developed shells.  I only maintain a small flock of chickens and don’t need or want half-used bags of chicken feed left around my shed.

Here is my solution.     I allow my new chicks one 50 pound bag of  chick starter.   Once that bag is gone they go on an all-purpose flock raiser feed.  Flock raiser is an  all purpose food,  not perfect for any type of chicken, but it will work, sometimes requiring supplements.

During integration I swap my layers over to flock raiser as well.   Layers require the supplement of calcium with flock raiser and I use oyster shell during this time.    If my young ones have any chick starter left I continue to fill the feeder in the youngster’s pen with chick food until they finish off their bag. Then they too will move over to  all purpose flock raiser food.   Life will continue on this way until the first young one lays an egg, then I will let them finish off the flock raiser feed, and move them back to layer pellets.

Come late summer I will have only one type of feed left and it will fit in my mouse-proof can.  No problems and a healthy flock of layers for the winter.