Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's a Whirling Now.

Cindy, your comments on my last chicken blog got my brain a whirling and that means I hit the Internet for some answers and what I found surprised me. It changed my whole muddled plans and made things clear what road I should take. Curious?

Well, these Austrolorps are not staying in my flock past when this year's hens turn two.
And of course I've already eliminated the Buff Orpingtons I had.
Now, I've decided to only keep my two Barred Rock hens through the winter because of the larger eggs they will lay compared to the pullets.What's left? Wyadottes as they fit the requirements best of the type of chicken I need and they've always been one of my favorite breeds. So now I don't have to worry about having more than one breed of rooster and I should not have to deal with ornery old mean ones either. Though I'm sure there are mean Wyadottes, we've never had a mean one. In fact, we've had several pet roosters but I'm sure there are exceptions to the rule.
I like Wyadottes calm demeanor, their pea comb suites our cold weather where fifty below wind chill isn't uncommon in the winter. The other chickens have a tendency to have a little frost bite on the tips of their combs which lowers egg production while that heals. And these girls I've found are just as early a maturers as the Austrolorps and I've never had one that molted so hard as the Austrolorps loosing most of their feathers. Our Wyadottes just loose part of their wing feathers and saddle. They still continue to lay a little even though they are molting unlike the Austrolorps.
The Internet said they lay on average 200 eggs a year or about four a week and the Austrolorps average 4 -5 with 200 - 250 a year. So the Austrolorps beat in egg production and are cold hardy except they have large combs and if you factor in they frost bite a little on the tips, decreasing egg production while they heal, I think we're ahead on the Wyadottes. Coupling that with wanting to keep a rooster that is well behaved especially since I now have three grand daughters living with us.
When I researched the Barred Rocks I found they gain in size faster than the strictly egg laying chickens but not substantially. Still, they don't hold a candle to the Cornish Crosses that we've raised quite a few of. With the substantial cost of getting the Barred Rocks up to size in comparison to the Cornish, I'm sold that the Cornish are the only way to go in our situation.
I also learned that the Barred Rocks are only fair layers though they do lay through the winter. Their performance is thereby average alround. I've probably not noticed it much since I've only had two hens.
So my plans - next spring order in Wyodottes, keeping the yearlings I have now for another year. Look into buying a leg bander for the chickens so I can tell how old the hens are as I plan to keep two year olds and pullets together.
I was toying with keeping the hens three years as it takes five months to get the pullets raised to the laying point but then the older hens do molt. And every piece of literature I could find said after two years the production drops substantially and in the third year as it progresses their egg laying decreases rapidly. With the distance we have to travel for feed and the cost of it since we do not live in farming country, my cost budget needs to be
re-evaluated. We are spending money now to save money later as I see tougher days ahead, much tougher.

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