I have 21 chickens, four roosters and seventeen hens. The roosters and seven of my hens were purchased when they were full-grown from local breeders or animal swaps. Yes, they have animal swaps, who knew. Ten of my hens were purchased as chicks this spring.
I had always chose to buy full-grown chickens, believing that I didn’t want to mess with the whole raising and responsibility of starting with day old chicks and well, I wanted eggs right away. Now that I have done both, let me just say that without a doubt I believe the best thing you can do is start with your own chicks.
The ten “little ladies” as I like to call them, that I picked up as day old chicks on April 11th have been a joy to raise.
Of course they were adorable as little feather balls for the first week, and even as they went through their ugly duckling stage I enjoyed raising them. Growing so fast it was amazing to watch!
Now that they are 18 weeks old and considered laying age, which I guess means full-grown 🙁 they are still a joy. Why you ask? Well one thing you figure out early on when raising chickens is there is a lot of drama in a chicken yard. There is always a hen who has to be the boss and establishing the pecking order can be rather brutal. I am not even going to mention the violent coupling of the rooster and hens.
But, my “little ladies” seem to be drama free. They are so much more pleasant to be around then the hens that I purchased from other breeders. They will all eat from my hand and follow me around like I am the Pied Piper. Jacob says “it’s just weird”. The “little ladies” stick together, they free range as a group and worry themselves if they get separated. They go in to the coop at night with no fuss, usually they are the first one’s in. The other ten are fighting and squabbling about roosting position, coming in and out of the coop until the last-minute. I am not even going to mention the Silkies, who drive me crazy waiting until the last drop of sun is in the sky before they will take their fluffy butts into the coop!
When I sat down in February with the chicken catalog to pick my breeds, I made several lists, crossing out breeds and adding breeds, until I decided on five. Buff Orpington, Araucana, Speckled Sussex, Barred Rock and Silver Wyandotte. Breeds I have never owned, but who were good egg layers and hardy. I also paid extra to have them sexed, so that I wouldn’t be stuck with any more roosters. Which even paying extra is not 100% guaranteed, but hallelujah, it was!! Well worth the extra $5.00 it cost me!! The Buff Orpingtons and Aracauna’s are my favorite four, they will let me pick them up and are always the first to run up and say hello when I come to the run door. They are very friendly and sweet.
The Speckled Sussex want me to pick them up until I do then they are not quite sure about it and squeak their worry. The Barred Rocks will stand on my feet and beg for treats, but make it clear they would prefer I kept my hands to myself, and the Silver Wyandotte are the last to eat from my hand and keep themselves at arm’s length at all times.
We are waiting patiently for the little ladies to start laying, which should be any day now. I am going to guess that the Barred Rock’s will be the first, since they are notorious early layers.
I must confess, I am very attached to these 10 much more than my other chicks. I feel a little guilty, but no one seems to notice my favoritism. So I will keep my confession between us! 🙂