Sunday, 4 September 2011

Our Chickens



We "rescued" our chickens from a private parochial school in June.  We were told they were about four weeks old at the time. The teacher didn't know what breed they were, and thought that possibly four were female and three were male, but she couldn't be sure. Some of them looked like the picture above, and some like the picture below:


Despite our best attempts, we were unable to figure out what kind of chickens we had. Based on the second picture, we theorized that some of them were perhaps leghorn, but as the rest of the down fell out and the feathers came in full, that seemed less and less likely.

They are now about 13 weeks old and all their feathers are in. We lost one of the cockerels a few weeks ago to an excited dog (we ate him, though there wasn't much meat on him). With all their feathers in, they are much easier to identify. This is what they looked like a week or so ago:
Pullet?
Cockeral?

It now seems clear that these chickens are indeed sex-linked chickens of some sort. Likely Red Star. Here's what we've learned about Red Star chickens:

While Red Star Chickens do not breed true (future generations will not be able to be sexed by colour) and are not a recognized breed according to whoever it is that recognizes these things, they are productive layers, laying large brown eggs. Further, they do not tend to slow down as much as other chickens as the weather gets cold and the days get shorter (great news for us, as they won't be old enough to lay until late fall). They do not often get broody, which might make any breeding difficult, but will keep us in eggs.  They are also apparently great foragers, with a high return in eggs for the amount of feed they consume.

Sex Linked Chickens are bred by mating a red breed (Rhode Island Red is common) male and a light breed (ex. Delaware) female. Why that makes white males and red females isn't clear to us, but it does. 

Check back soon for news on coop completion and egg production updates!

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