Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chicken Evaluation: Summer

Well the chickens have come full circle. From their arrival as downy fluff balls last fall to brooding and caring for their own downy fluff balls.

All three breeds have been successful at all stages to some degree.

My observations on each breeds mothering follow in no particular order.

The Australorpe's
These hens are the layers of the group. Consistent and steady they supply us with rather long oval shaped pale brown eggs. The first hen to go broody was an Australorpe but she would not stay in one nest and we had to break her. The Australorpe that finally hatched an egg got so excited with her one chick she abandoned her eggs and went right to caring for the chick. She is the hen that adopted and adores her second "child" a duckling. She is a super excitable and very protective mother but does get separated from the two when she chases away other hens. I think she will calm down a bit in a few more days. ( I was wrong about her calming down, she ended up forgetting both the chick and the duckling to chase away the lame duck we have, then she didn't come back to the babies. We put the duckling with the poults and other two ducklings and the hen has settled with her chick a bit. Not such a good mother after all) We think the mothering quality Ralph remembers from his Australorpe flock years ago may have been bred out of them. The roosters make up for the broody deficiency as they are marvelous around us and attentive to the hens.

 The nervous Australorpe

The Buff Orpingtons
These are the cadillac chicken's for mothering and our Buff's are pretty remarkable for young hens. 3 got seriously broody and they have hatched 22 chicks between the three of them. Plus the one adopted several from other sources. One just finished hatching 10 of her own. They are protective mother's but not insane about it and as the chicks age they allow them  more freedom and take them further afield. We have watched "Super 8" the hen with 8 chicks take her chicks all over the place and often only see her with 5 or 6 but she will make a certain call and they all come running. The Buff are gentle with their chicks and will protect them but they do not leave them for any distance and are very vocal to the chicks so the chicks know where 'Mom' is. We love the Buff hens for so many reasons and this is the final hurdle and they cleared it with room to spare. Over all great hens. The jury is still out on the Roosters as the ones we ended up butchering were just to hen aggressive.

The Buff hen with 7 chicks...second day out on grass.


The Buckeyes
These chickens are interesting to watch and learn about. Only one has gone broody so far but she hatched 6 chicks on her own and adapted to us moving her from the chicken house in the tobacco barn to the trophy room where we have been housing the hens and chicks. She is super protective and fearless when it comes to keeping harm from her chicks. All the poultry gives her and her brood a wide berth except for one turkey hen who is like an Aunt to the chicks. She is a good mother but it has been something to watch her teach her chicks to scratch, she scratches vigorously and the chicks run to her...sometimes she flips her chicks back a foot or so as she catches them up in her scratching. Now all 6 scratch the same they are digging a pit! They follow her at top speed and are not as calm as the chicks taught by the Buff hens. She takes them out in the long grass to catch bugs and we can hear the excited chirruping when they get a worm or beetle. She is a very good mother. So the overall evaluation on the Buckeyes is they are a super breed for a small homestead or farm. The hens lay well and mother so far and the Roosters are good meat birds and fairly good roosters for disposition.

Marching out to forage, the Buckeye with her 6 chicks.

Aunt Turkey watching out for everyone.

Every day we find something to delight or laugh over while we work the farm, the poultry has been a total success in so many ways. Even the hard parts have taught us to appreciate what we are able to do.

On that note I am off to do laundry and watch fluff balls.  God bless all of you and be safe. Find joy in simple things all around you!


  1. Interesting post. Just found your site. I will be back to read more.

  2. I love your evaluation posts. Always so interesting. If I've had the breed I nod my head, if I haven't I think, "I didn't know that!"

    We have mostly Lorps now and I've had a couple go broody, but we haven't encouraged hatching right how. Now I'm wondering about their mothering! Time will tell.

    1. We are a bit frustrated with the Australorps. We had another one get broody but it doesn't take much of a disturbance to break them...that is the third one to give up after about 5 days. Another Buff is hard at work, no problems staying broody and starting to work on hatching eggs under the same conditions as the Australorp. Yes time does tell, perhaps the cross bred Australorp chicks will do better.