Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Joe's Chicks, Box of Turkeys, Curly's Acne, and a Tiny Egg

Can you imagine having over two hundred chicks?  Joe has officially begun his foray into raising poultry for profit, not just for feeding his family.  He ordered a hundred egg layers, a mix of black Australorps and Rhode Island reds.  These are colorful and energetic chicks, shown in the photo above.  They seem to act like the chicks I've hatched, which were heritage breeds too.  

They hop all over the brooder and get easily frightened by looming humans who try to take their pictures with their scary cell phones.  I'm sure being easily frightened is a good survival tactic if you are a chick who is born under a hen, who must forage for your food and avoid being prey in the first few days of life. 

The chicks he has in the brooder that are destined to be meat birds are called Cornish cross rocks, which have been bred to be fast growing and have the thick breast meat that we've all come to expect from chickens.  These guys may be ready to butcher in as little as eight weeks.  I can really see a difference in these chicks when compared to the other breeds.  Not only are they huge compared to the baby egg layers, but they are very sedentary.  They don't waste any energy by moving around or freaking out just because a stranger is taking their picture.  Some of them just sit with their faces over the food, so they don't even have to walk to get a bite.  Joe said he raised the feeders so they at least have to stand up to eat.  He also takes the food away for parts of the day so they don't gain weight too fast.  I wish someone would do that for me.  The brooder light gives them a satanic glow in the photo above, but in truth they are the fluffy yellowish chicks that most of us have in mind when buying Easter candy. 

These are the turkey poults that arrived in the mail.  In the photo they are still in the box that they were shipped in.  I love the idea of going to pick up a box of chirping babies from the post office.   Joe ordered an assortment, sort of like a box of chocolates I guess, so he has at least four different kinds of turkeys.  It will be a good experiment to see which kind he likes to raise on his farm.  It takes longer to raise a meat turkey than a chicken, so the plan is to have these ready by Thanksgiving. 

This is a recent photo of the chicks I hatched in the incubator -  Curly, Beardy, and the newly named Sissy, in their small brooder at mom's house.  Sissy got her name because I always referred to her as Curly's sister.  It's a terrible thing to do to a chicken, I know.  After seeing all of Joe's hundreds of chicks, I felt quite overwhelmed when trying to think of names for them all, and trying to tell them apart.  I don't know how he's going to do it.

Speaking of Curly, this chick has some very unattractive comb development.  I'm hoping it's just a normal part of growing into a rooster, and that it will work it's self out in time.  Sort of like teenage acne, maybe? At least he doesn't have to go to school looking like this.   

The young hens that Joe raised at his farm, which we split for our chicken partnership, are beginning to lay eggs.  Mom added three of the hens to her flock, and I've given some of my share of the hens to friends, just like Johny Appleseed, I'm spreading the love of chickens throughout the land.  The tiny green egg in the photo is one of the first eggs from one of these young hens.  The rest are from mom's older hens.  So tiny!

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