Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I got my first Wyandotte egg yesterday!  Joan was the brilliant layer of that beautiful cream-colored egg pictured.  It's a bit small, but that could be because it is her first one.  To compare, it is pictured with a store-bought egg.

I have also gotten a couple of eggs from (I think) Half-Pint.  It is also small (smaller than Joan's), and white.  The smaller white egg is it.  The brown egg is from Skye, the Blue Copper Maran, and the bigger white egg in the second picture is a typical, store-bought egg.  

Just wait until all of my girls are laying!  I'll be getting about 28 eggs a week (not counting Little Henny the Silkie). Don't forget, I still have 12 pullets coming in next week, and I have a bid on a dozen fertile eggs that should be delivered Friday if I win.  I'll probably end up selling some if I get too over-run with the hatched batch, and if all 12 pullets survive.  I always hope for the best but plan for the worst.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Synchronized Clucking

I just thought these pictures were too cute!  Joan and Elisabeth decided to stand together on the nesting boxes and pose.

Joan (left) Elisabeth (right)

Labelle is just clueless 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cockerel Day Out

The little cockerels went outside in a little run for a few hours.  They seemed to have enjoyed the fresh air and space to jump and spar with one another.



Chicken (and Other Fowl) Reproduction

If you have ever watched a chicken "do the do," you probably had the thought go through your head, "How do chickens do the dirty deed in such a short amount of time.  You would be surprised about the number of people that simply do not know how to answer that, so I researched and researched and finally came upon an interesting article called "Six Things You Didn't Know About Chicken Reproduction" by Katherine Dickinson with RealClearScience.com.  This article answered so many questions about chicken reproduction, and even a couple I didn't even think about it.

1. A chicken has two reproductive organs (hens : ovaries, roosters : testicles) but only develop one.
2. Neither sex has external genitalia, but both have an orifice called a cloaca where sperm transfers from the roo into the hen's reproductive tract.  Needless to say, there is no actual penetration.  It is called a "Cloaca Kiss."
3.  The eggs could be fertilized for up to 4 weeks after insimiation. (adding an extra number, but I think it deserves it's own considering it's interesting value).  Hens store sperm in their "Sperm Nests" that is located along the hen's oviduct.  Sperm stays viable for up to 30 days.
4.  Most hens are virgins, but will still produce eggs.  All a hen needs is light.
5.  Some hens are very productive, laying up to 300 eggs a year.
6.  It takes 26 hours for a hen to make an egg.  20 of those hours are spent making the shell.  Pigmentation is added in the last few hours.  There are many colors other than the typical store-bought white.  Many people know about the brown, but did you know that some chickens will lay blue, green, and even pink eggs?  What?  Yeah, it's cool.  I got some on order.
7.  Chicken twins cannot naturally be born.  "But I've seen videos and pictures on the Internet!"  Yes, but that is because there was human intervention.  In order for a chick to hatch, it takes it's beak and peck at the air pocket at the top of the egg.  When there are two chicks in one egg, there isn't a big enough space for them to get through, so they both die.  Unless there is a skilled person near.

Ducks and geese have different reproductive experiences.  Drakes and Ganders (male terms for ducks and geese) actually have penises (apparently drakes can get pretty long.  The longest recorded is 16"....  Not exactly sure why some one would walk around with a tape measure specifically used to measure fowl penises.  Awkward.) so there is actual penetration.  I found this out when I learned about "vent sexing" ducklings.  It's pretty interesting, which I'll go into a little bit later.

Right now I'm talking duck sex "Duck Mating: The Sex Lives of Ducks" by Sally Schloss with Webvet contains tons of excellent information about duck reproduction.  The reason why the rule of thumb for every drake is about 3 hens (another female terms is "duck") is because drakes have very aggressive sexual behaviors that could result in injury or death of the hen.  Duck gang rape.  Excellent.  ::shiver::  At times, a gang of three or four will attack a hen.  Obviously, it's not a very pretty scene.  The article goes into why ducks will be aggressive in their reproductive nature.  Drakes try to get as much tail as they can, and they don't stick around long enough to care for the hen they mated, let alone the little ducklings they create, so the competition ensues.
Apparently, hens have an adaptation to avoid insemination and production of unwanted ducklings.  There is a long and complex oviduct where the hen stores unwanted sperm to eject later.  The statistic given in the article states about 97% of the ducklings hatched are produced by the hens' choices of drakes.  Amazing!

Geese aren't quite as difficult with their pairings.  Domestic geese do not mate for life as wild geese do.  Domestic geese will choose their mates, but will quickly find another mate if something fatal happens to one of the pair.  It's not as dramatic as duck and chicken "bow-chicka-bow-bow."  There aren't as many articles to indicate how it works, and in detail, but I have a little list of where I got this information.  First is a thread from BackYardChickens.com, and there is information regarding the raising of geese at NSW and De Weydegansch Hatchery.  As I mentioned before, gosling and duckling sexing called "venting" and is very easy at an early age.  "Venting" is performed the same way for both so if you see a video about one, the other isn't any different.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Little Cockerels

   I had a Coumbian Wyandotte Cockerel named Angel who decided to put his big boy britches on and try to protect his flock against a 3 year old child.  No, he didn't do any damage, but I'm not letting it progress any further.  Long story short, I fixed rooster stew.  It wasn't that bad, to tell the truth, though I think we (meaning my husband and I) need to perfect our culling technique.

   Something tells me I'm going to get some practice in later this year with the little cockerels.  That is, if the big boys and girls will allow the little cockerels to live with them in their coop.  I took two of the babies (Red and Ash) out to the coop, and Elisabeth, Joan, Skye, and Domino just wouldn't relent on them.  Poor things.  Oh well, I guess the boys could live in the pasture if they had to.  

Clean Coop

It's that time of year again where Chicken Fever runs rampant through the backyard chicken owners.  I only have about two weeks before my chick orders get in, and I'm so excited!  I was so excited, I just HAD to add two more chicks.  I couldn't help myself.  What did I add?  Should I say?  I'll stop the suspense.  ;)  Two Black Jersey Giant Pullets!  YES!  Of course, I can't make a post without adding pictures of my last year's group.  If you haven't noticed, Domino is a bit of a photo-bomber.  He just INSISTS he HAS to be in ever single picture. 

Beautiful MS Labelle.  


Bandit (EE)

Here comes Domino...


This is a newbie.  She is a Blue Splash Silkie.  She was 
brought in with a Partridge Silkie Roo (not pictured).  
Sadly, there is something going on with her back, and 
her future looks grim.





Joan, Labelle, Half-Pint, and Skye's butt

Domino insisted, again, to get in on the group shot

Nesting boxes

Ravyne, Buff (The BAYNE of my existance  ;~D ) and Silkie

Silkie, the paint Silkie  She's just adorable!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Hen or Foe? Part III

Put simply, all four of the 4 week old chicks are cockerels... Cursing myself for real, but oh well.

Ash is my favorite because I love his color pattern.  I'm thinking he is a RIR x Barred Rock, getting the barred color pattern.  I learned about Sex-Links after I bought these guys, so I'm kicking myself now.  Alas, it is my fault.  Maybe I will get a Barred Rock pullet later.  It's not like there aren't a ton around my area.

I call this guy Penguin.  He just reminds me of a Penquin.  Awe!  Still a cockerel...  Boo....  :)  Still cute though.

This is Red.  I was told he will look closer to what a RIR would usually look like.  He is another cool looking guy, but again, cockerel..  Bummer.

Last, but not least, Stew.  You read right.  Stew.  I just ran out of names.
I'm still not sure what I will be doing with these guys.  I may grow them out and put them in the freezer, or I may give them to a friend to throw out on her farm.  It's not like she doesn't have enough hens and room.  She's got a pretty big farm.