At this time we raise and offer...
Rhode Island Reds
Black Sex links
Silver Lace Wynadotte
We will be adding light branhams and oliver eggers soon!
I may have a slight chicken addiction...shhh don't tell.
When we decided to start this adventure we knew for sure one of the first animals we wanted to have on our farm was chickens. They are fairly simple to raise, you get the benefits of both meat and eggs, and it doesn't take to long for you to have a "finished product." We first chose to go with the Rhode Island Reds because they were dual purpose birds meaning they became large enough to be meat birds and were also good egg producers laying on average between 200 and 300 eggs per year per bird. We bought 40 straight run (meaning unknown sexes) and ended up with only 20 hens so we were able to put around 18 in our freezer. What I didn't expect when we decided to start raising chickens was how fun it was going to be. Our first group we bought chicks, of course, and kept them in their brooder with their heat lamp like you are suppose to do. When they were older we put them out in their coop and let them free range when we were there to keep and eye on their safety. When the reached around 6 months of age they started laying eggs and the excitement in the kids eye over going and gathering the eggs and watching the number you gathered grow daily was hilarious. Our youngest daughter would call her daddy everyday after she gathered the eggs and tell him with excitement "daddy we got 18 today!"
Now, this year we decided to try our hand at incubating some eggs. We filled our incubator with our 42 eggs and set out thinking we were going to have 42 little chirpy chicks in just 21 days. Well, it doesn't work like that, we come to find out the hard way that rarely does everyone of the eggs you incubate produce a chick. Our first go around, however, was even less than half of the average we had a disappointing ONE chick hatch successfully. Meet Nugget...
I say disappointing, there is nothing disappointing about sweet Nugget, "she" follows me around like a puppy and is my baby. So, needless to say we pulled up our boot straps and loaded our incubator one more time after doing some research into what we did wrong. (Don't leave the egg turner in there until they hatch take it out at day 18 FYI, also adding a warm wet paper towel helps up hatch percentage) Our percentages grew tremendously and we started having little chicks popping out all over the place. Oh and I also I did a lot of research and have gotten pretty good at sexing the RIR chicks I am not 100% at it and my sweet little Nugget girl is actually my sweet little Nugget boy. Anyway, I have a good friend that has Ameraucanas (Easter eggers) she gave me a ton of her eggs to put in our incubator and we had our best hatch yet all but 10 of the 42 eggs hatch. It is so addicting to watch a sweet little baby pecking a tiny hole from the inside out and before you know it "pop" out and there is your tiny new little love bird. So in a little over a year our 21 RIR flock has grown to well over 100 at this time. I love the variety of eggs brown, blue, green, chocolate brown, and pink. When we get settled, or maybe before since I have to feed my addiction, we will be adding a few other breeds.
If you have never been around a well handled and well loved chicken you TRULY don't know what you are missing out of. They love affection and honestly have a load of personality.
All that being said we don't loose sight in what we are raising them for and if there is too many roosters or if a hen gets to the point that she is no longer laying, we have no problem culling them and putting them in our freezer. That is one thing we decided first when we made the decision to start homesteading is that we wanted our children to understand every aspect of farming and the life of a homesteader from start to table. Our children understand completely where their food comes from and are accepting and understanding of that. Four of the five of them have actually culled a chicken their selves and the only one that hasn't is to little. It is not something that we are embarrassed of or hide, it is apart of life. I have heard of children whom when asked where did your chicken on your plate come from answer the grocery. We believe that every child/adult should know where their food is coming from. Last but not least the health benefits of raising and knowing exactly what goes into your food from start to finish. If you ever purchase fresh meat directly from a farm you will be surprised at how much better the meat actually tastes and how much fresher it looks all because of what is NOT put into it.