I have officially committed myself. No more guessing, wondering or pondering. Last week, I visited our local Co-op Farm Store and placed an order for five day-old chicks. That’s five chicks which will be a day old when they arrive at the farm store for pick up.
The chicks cost $1.99 each and will arrive near the end of April. Here in Nova Scotia, there’s no tax on chicks.
From my previous experience with day-olds, they’ll need a warm bed of shavings in a confined space beneath a heat lamp for two or three weeks. They grow fairly fast, so they don’t stay in the basement too long before getting moved to the coop.
The local shop takes orders for brown and black hens. My previous flock contained five of each type. This time around, I chose only brown hens. My very first hen was brown, and they have always been my favourite. They are content hens, good layers and don’t attack the kids. The black ones were larger and more aggressive. I don’t need any more aggression in my life, so hens which are content to peck for bugs and snails are fine with me.
From what I’ve read, these brown hens are hybrid, the result of crossing Rhode Island Reds with Rhode Island Whites. They were developed in 1978 as a battery hen. Sometimes, the breed is called Hubbard Isa Brown. The data I read states they are good layers, producing around 300 eggs a year. That’s nothing new to me. I’ve had good luck with these fowl. They regularly lay large brown eggs. In their first year, it’s common to get double-yokers.
I didn’t order any roosters. My experience with them hasn’t been pleasant. Maybe I’ll share the horror stories next winter when there’s less to blog about.
The hens will be free-range. They’ll be locked up only at night when the coyotes and foxes are about. Still, they’ll have a dirt/grass pen 10 feet by 10 feet to scratch around in. Our property is inundated with snails from spring to fall. Our previous flock kept them in check, but the past two years have seen an explosion of the little creatures. The hens should put a stop to that.
One of the most popular sites on the Internet to learn about raising your chickens is Backyard Chickens (http://www.backyardchickens.com/). There you’ll find more information on brown hens and other breeds, basic information on raising chickens from eggs, coop construction and more.
Now that the chicks are scheduled to arrive, I must get back to repairing that chicken coop.