Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chicken Order

Well I finally placed my chicken order yesterday. Unfortunately I waited too long and was only able to order 10 cuckoo Marans (top two pictures) instead of 20 as I would have been able to last week. I also missed the delivery week of Feb 5th and had to take Feb 12th. Oh well, I still have another order to place for later delivery and I will get the rest of my Marans then. Or maybe I will order from someone like Sand Hill Preservation even though they can't delivery until in May. They do have a very large selection of heritage poultry (and sweet potatoes which is what we will be ordering early next year from them)
I placed my order through Murray McMurray. I would have liked to use a smaller individual but I really did want to have my chicks early this year so....
The bottom two pictures are of the Silver Laced Wyandottes that I ordered (not really a rare breed---but I liked their looks) and I also ordered some Delawares.
Marans--if you are unfamiliar with them are absolutely neat birds. They lay (along with Barnvelders and Welsummers---which we had years ago) DARK DARK chocolate colored eggs. Some of the eggs even have chocolate chip spots on them and are very fascinating. Cross breeding will reduce but not always kill the tendency for the dark eggs and from what I understand a more natural diet of grass and bugs keeps the color really dark and rich. That's what our hens always eat so I couldn't confirm that one way or the other.
The Silver Laced Wyandottes lay light brown large eggs and are pretty---so they will at least be productive yard decoration.
The Delawares are a heritage breed (developed rather recently in the forties) that were the precursor to some of the "new" larger broiler chickens. Supposedly they lay really large eggs (jumbos?) and the roosters grow out well for slaughter. Maybe if we caponized them they would turn into nice big tender roasters without the problems of the modern breeds- ( see that link along the side in "random places" entitled The Modern Homestead for info about caponizing roosters)
I almost purchased Salmon Faverolles --which I really really like, but I chose not to this time. These are one of my favorite breeds because they have a very mild personality and they are so pretty. They make absolutely wonderful backyard birds and will come and work with you in the flower/veggie beds if they can. They will even let you just reach down and pick them up---so passive they are. Absolutely perfect for a more urban setting than I have. The problem with them for me here is that they are so mild--the hawks get them. We have watched the hawks strike them and take them out. The Barnvelders, Marans and Welsummers on the other hand (and hopefully the others I ordered this time) will actually turn on the hawk and try and fight it off. And as far as we have ever been able to tell---they are successful. We still have lost them to other animals but at least while they are foraging in the pastures where there are no trees they are safe enough from the hawks.
We don't have an actual chicken coop yet at this house (we did at our other) but we are not sure if we will build one. I think we are going to try a movable tunnel. One that maybe can do double duty with the garden beds in the winter and be used for egg laying and rain shelter by the hens in the summer. We are still testing out theories to find something that actually looks not too bad (remember I live in suburbia on a corner), holds up well to moving around and is not horribly difficult to move. I know, I know---I am almost searching for the impossible. I am determined to succeed. We have tried many things over the years so I am sure we can make something work. One "wrench" in the works in money---I don't want to spend as much on the movable pen as I would if I just built a coop.

Here's another interesting site about Chickens --Henderson's chicken breed chart. It covers most all breeds with the 60 it has listed.
Oh yes, don't forget the American Livestock Breeds Concervancy.


Phelan said...

I buy from McMurray's. I already placed my order for some frizzles and cornish game hens.

~I feel like I should have something more to say as I have had a very hard time posting today~

Jamie said...

Oh my gosh...we are planning many of the same breeds for next year (including the Salmon Faverolles you didn't get this time)! I guess it's a good thing we want them later in the spring, since we haven't placed our order yet! I'd better get on that.

El said...

Thanks for this post! I hadn't heard of Sand Hill. We'll be getting more birds this year, too. We'll probably just go to the seed store a couple of towns away, though, as we only need 5-6, and they guarantee that they're pullets. (No boys need apply here!)