In Chicken husbandry on April 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

April 23, 2011

Today the Burlingame family got chickens!  Here’s the story in a nut “shell”.  I’ve been hankerin’ for chickens for a while.  I bought a book, Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide and have been cruising the internet looking at chickens and coops for our back yard.  As usual I was gradually talking Jim into the idea.  He was coming around but not fast enough for me.  This morning we took a trip to the Feed Lot to get a few supplies for our little vegetable garden and there was a big sign out front that read CHICKS HAVE ARRIVED.  We went in and they had two large tubs of the cutest little fluff balls I’ve ever seen.  Jim didn’t stand a chance.  In a “flutter” of excitement I picked out three little ladies with the help of the store manager, Robert.  I had been researching breeds but forgot the names of the ones that are supposed to be calm and friendly.  Robert told me which ones were his favorites and then I chose the cutest bird from each group. (OK, they were all cute but a few of them really had it goin’ on).  Turns out that Robert really knew his stuff.  When I got home I looked up my babies and they were all “people friendly” breeds.  Here’s the lowdown on the ladies:

 Daisy:  She’s a buff Orpington.  Originated in Kent, England. Orps are big gals who are friendly, easily handled and are good layers.  The internet deems them “the perfect urban chicken” and the “Golden retrievers” of the chicken world. She will lay pinkish to light brown eggs. She is supposed to have a “subordinate nature” but so far she is spunky and lively.  She’s a lovely yellow/gold color.

Rosie:  Americauna or sometimes known as an “Easter Egger”, this breed originates from South America and were developed in the 1970s into the breed seen today.  Americaunas are mid-sized birds with variegated plumage (a combination of brown, tan and black stripes) and blue/green feet.  They have puffy cheeks and large round eyes.  They have a different sound than other chickens and they can be heard “singing” rather than squawking.  I heard Rosie trill today and it sounded much more like a songbird than a pullet!  Her eggs will be a variety of blue, green and pink.  She is my favorite of the three (don’t tell Violet and Daisy).  She’s beautiful and expressive.  She stares in my face when I talk to her and she lets me stroke her back.

Violet: My beautiful little black girl is an Australorp. These birds come from Australia and are champion layers.  I can expect up to 250 eggs a year from this lady.  These birds are also valued for their meat (GASP!) but I won’t be sampling any chicken nuggets from my babies.  She will be my quietest bird and her eggs will be brown.  She’s supposed to be the shyest of the bunch but she has a nice personality and doesn’t mind being picked up and stroked on her shiny little head. Her plumage is black with hints of green and purple in the sunlight.

In addition to the chicks, Robert sent us home with shavings for their bedding, chick starter feed, a small waterer, and feeder and a red heat lamp.  I left the store giddy and happy.  Jim had a stunned look on his face reminiscent of the day I brought Buster the bunny home to live with us.  On the ride home he kept saying “We have CHICKENS” and shaking his head.  We got home and set up the nursery.  I got a large cardboard box and lined it with about two inches of wood shavings.  I filled their water and food containers and Jim arranged the heat lamp above their little chicken heads.  They are a week old already so they knew how to eat and drink from the feeders. 

We put them in their new home in our office, shut the doors to keep out the kittens and watched them acclimate.  Rosie immediately fell face first in the shavings and was motionless.  No she wasn’t dead, just in need of a power nap.  All three ladies chirped, ate, pooped and slept for the rest of the day.  They seem very happy in their little box and we (Jim will come around eventually) are very glad to have the new addition to our family.

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