Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Chicken Evaluation: Continuing Observations

By now anyone following this blog will know we have three breeds of chicken we are raising. We were unable to commit to just one as we had questions about each breeds suitability for our farm.

The hens are now laying quite steadily and the eggs are getting to adult size.
We have been butchering roosters and after 70 made their way into our food stores (both Frozen and canned) I have this to say about them.

# 1 Overall Carcass for canning: The Buckeye
# 1 Overall Carcass to pluck and for presentation as a roaster: The Australorps
# 1 Overall Bird for a horrible amount of feathers...yes you guess it the Buff Orpingtons.

The heaviest birds even in the cull roosters were the Buckeyes, they may not have looked as big as the others but they weighed more. They are slower maturing but it does not slow the way they weigh. The one problem with these birds is the length of their leg bones. They are too long for a quart jar. I ended up taking the meat off the legs on these birds or cutting the quarter chicken into legs and thighs, canning the thighs and freezing drumsticks in meal sized  packages.

The Buff's are adequate eating birds but tend to  have a shorter breast and are not as heavy in the leg, but remember these birds excel as mothers, it is okay if the roosters are not so big or meaty.

I like the Australorps, we have roasted two and both were very nice with great flavor and enough meat to make a very nice supper of roast chicken and then chicken salad the next day. They are very white skinned and they plucked easily without massive amounts of butt area feathers like the other two breeds.

On the hen front. I really like the Buckeye hens, they are laying nice dark brown eggs. They are the heaviest hens and surprise us with what they weigh when we pick them up. They do have a "Bird Of Prey" look to them and do not look sweet and delicate like the Australorps. However as they have grown up they have become quite social if you do not pick them up. They are the most talkative of the three breeds.

The Bird of Prey Stare of a Buckeye hen.

The Australorps are harder to judge, they are not uniformly sized with small almost leghorn style hens and some bigger more robust hens. They are laying light brown eggs that are not as round as the Buckeye eggs, more oval and a bit more slender....this may change as they get older.

 A refined style Australorp Hen.

Now the Buff's....what can a person say about these fluffy bundles of hen-ness!
They are the youngest of our chickens and started to lay first. They are still laying the most but the other breeds are catching up. They still ramble around more than the other breeds and they are a tad grumpy if you interrupt their laying cycle...even to walk by! The will climb on you if you sit down, they are always underfoot and are really a delight. Again there is not the uniformity of type in this group of Buff's. In size or color, some pale gold and some deep rich gold.

A Buff hen..doing what Buff's do, snooping and eating!
It is such fun to gather eggs...they are a gift that I think the commercial raising of eggs has taken away from people. Each trip to gather leads to new finds and to get a fresh from the hen warm egg and hold it in your hand is a miracle and delight!
On the left, two Buff eggs, middle is the Australorps and on the right is the Buckeye.
 The evaluation continues and it is not getting easier to pick just one breed. I will say any of these breeds will be great farmstead chickens and because of their dual purpose nature they can supply a family with all things chicken.

Now I have to go and check the hens!

God Bless you all and stay safe.


  1. What a really great post, Fiona. Very informative and clearly written. Thank you for this. Interesting that the Buckeye legs don't fit in quart jars. I like that Buckeye nonsense. Loose feathered birds like the Buffs look better during molt. Also great winter layers In our below zero climate. I guess mixed flocks are the way to go.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed this post. I am finding it interesting to compare these breeds and to observe them as they grow. I hope to get some commercial chicken legs to compare to these dual purpose breeds.

  2. What interesting flocks you have! Hubby and I eat a lot of chicken, but not ours. I just couldn't. We go to the butcher in town and buy his. (I don't know them, so it's ok.)
    Yes - they do bring a lot of joy just watching them do 'chicken stuff'. And the eggs! Nothing like going out to the coop early in the morning and picking up breakfast!

    1. I made breakfast omelet wraps this morning with our own eggs!

  3. We always had Barred Rock and they worked very well for us but there are so many to choose from. I like your mix. Hug B

    1. We like our mix too! Barred Rocks made the top 6 when we were cutting our order down to size. Wee had them when I was a kid. Very good hens.

  4. Very good post. Now your next test will be how well they take heat. And which breed are parasite magnets. AND who goes broody. Many of the hatchery breeds have bred out the broodiness.

    You're doing good! I love the look of the Buckeye. Very similar to the Heritage RIR. She's a lovely hen.

    1. Yes, brooding is the next step....several hatcheries we looked at stated their Australorps as non-broody. It was one reason we ordered from Meyer.
      Heat and humidity will be a trial as well. It really is an ongoing test to see how these breeds work over the year under our farm conditions.
      (I do love my Predatory Buckeyes!)