While I currently have a small flock of chickens, I am excited to be expanding this year.
Before placing my chick order, my family and I did a lot of research. Although I am the main flock keeper, the whole family is involved with caring for them. I feel as though it is important to have my family included, as it is great to have backup when I am away or not feeling well. Even family members who are less excited about their care and feeding enjoy their fresh eggs and entertainment. For our family, these egg layers are easy to care for, inexpensive, enjoyable backyard pets.
When placing my order this year, I looked for three main traits. First of all, I wanted these chicks to mature into excellent egg layers. Living in New England means tough weather, so I also needed to ensure that the breeds I selected were winter hardy. And finally, because raising chickens is a family affair, these chicken breeds needed to be friendly.
After much research, I am so excited about my variety-packed order of chicks. We will end up with birds of varied feather and egg colors. Keep reading to learn more about the breeds that I will be expecting in just a few short weeks!
I based my whole chick order around the Lavender Orpington arrival date. The Orpingtons supposedly have everything that I am looking for in my chickens. They tend to be on the lazy side and are calm around people, making them a lovely choice as lap sitting pet chickens (Even the roosters are docile!).
Even though these chickens are called lavender, they are actually a shiny grey color. The Lavender Orpingtons have an abundance of soft, fluffy feathers – making them look larger than they actually are. Because of this, I will need to provide an indoor dust bath, like Fresh Coop Dust Bath For Poultry, for them year round to protect them from lice and mite infestations. A year round dust bath is a great idea for the whole flock.
Their beautiful feathers can also be a problem if they get wet in cold weather. To be prepared for this, I plan to get them accustomed to the blow dryer. Wet feathers can’t protect chickens from the cold, and they can die from hypothermia. As long as they stay dry, Lavender Orpingtons are very winter hardy. Those beautiful feathers are just too hard to resist, even though it means providing extra care and attention.
Orpington hens lay 170-200 medium-sized, light brown eggs a year. We ordered a straight run of Lavender Orpingtons, so I hope hoping for at least one rooster so that we can continue to grow my flock.
The Rest of the Order
The Midnight Majesty Marans should be a dependable layer of about 250 large, dark reddish brown eggs a year. They have lightly feathered feet, a style my daughter is looking forward to. I hope to get some nice images to share with our readers once my girls grow up.
New England born and raised, the Rhode Island Red are hardy chickens that will challenge the Marans in egg laying. I am looking forward to the possibility of 260-300 extra large, brown eggs per year from them.
The Sapphire Olive Egger is a hybrid of a dark brown egg layer breed and a blue egg layer breed, which results in an olive green egg layer. With 5 grandkids, I simply couldn’t resist the Green Eggs and Ham connection. The Olive Egger should lay about 240 large, olive green eggs a year.
The super friendly, beautifully feathered Silver-Laced Wyandotte will be a joy to watch and sit with. This girl was chosen more for looks and friendliness than egg production, but at about 200-240 medium, cream colored eggs per year, I think we will have plenty of eggs! These very winter hardy birds are a great choice for New England backyard flocks.
Our Speckled Sussex should lay 240 or more medium cream colored eggs a year. Unlike some other breeds, the Sussex hens don’t seem to mind laying eggs right through winter. I hear they are easy going and like to talk. I am looking forward to her mahogany color and hearing her wisdom, as her breed has been around for centuries.
Birds of a Different Feather
This year for something completely different, I ordered Guinea Keets. They aren’t chickens, so they act differently, but they are known to coexist well with chickens. They are boisterous and alert, making them fantastic flock protectors. Predators just don’t know what to make of their funny looks and loud voices.
Guineas can fly and will perch in trees, and they will even visit neighbors if the spirit moves them. Raising keets is a new endeavor for me, but I have read that to keep them coming home we should only let one out at a time for the first month or so. I know that the rest will not appreciate being cooped up, so we will have an enclosed outdoor pen, much like the Rugged Ranch Universal Walk-In Pen, for them.
Our order of guinea keets is set to arrive a month after our chick order, so the chicks will have a head start on these rowdy cousins. I know that raising them will be an additional challenge, but if we handle them well, we will enjoy their pest control – especially in the garden and our yard.
Housing for Our Flock
Work on our new coop has begun! This has truly been a team effort, between my daughter, the grandkids, and myself. My son-in-law donated his old trailer to use as the base so that it can be easily moved from its present location if desired. We re-purposed lots of plywood scraps and other construction materials that were left behind by the previous owner of our farm, making the cost of building the coop very low. I enjoy spending my time outside with my family and pets, creating something from bits and pieces of scrap wood that would have ended up in a landfill. Teaching the kids some carpentry skills adds to the value of this project for our family. If this kind of venture isn’t in the cards for you, you can’t go wrong buying a coop from the beautifully crafted selection at The Cheshire Horse!
Until Next Time!
What kind of chicks are you expecting this year? I consulted with the rest of the experienced sales staff at Cheshire Horse before placing my Chick Order as well as doing a large amount of research on my own. The next installment of this blog series will cover the first month with our chicks. Raising poultry is an exciting endeavor, and I am thrilled to be expanding my flock!
You can catch part I of Joan’s adventures with her flock here.