22 January 2015

Wyandotte and red broiler chicks

They're here!  Bouncing balls of fluffy cuteness cheeping and peeping in the brooder tubs in my shed.  Twenty-five gold-laced Wyandottes and twenty-five red broilers, eating and drinking amiably with each other right now.  My neighbor Maria ordered the "surprise special" and has five with a poof of feathers on the top of their heads, so she will have some fun growing out a handful of crested chicks.  Here are my little chicks:
close-up of the GLW and red broiler chicks

all 50 of the new chicks
My friend Lynn who lives two towns up the highway ordered 12 red broilers and her husband wanted 75 assorted clean-legged bantams.  That was quite the noisy drive up to her place!  LOL  Those two being the way they are, they not only gave me a generous tip "for time and effort and front door delivery," but also sent me home with a mess of mustard greens, some kale, and a feather-legged bantam rooster that was given to them a while back.  In between chickening chores, a name for him popped into my mind: Elf.  Along with being red and iridescent green-black, he has a certain mischievous glint in his bay eyes ... especially when he looks at the red hens in with Feyd.
out of focus, but shows his colors

Elf, our new bantam rooster
Tonight, Elf will move in with the Eileens, while Corey and Mula come out for a small honeymoon suite.  This shuffling of birds has a couple purposes: Corey is most likely full sibling to the Eileens, and I prefer to go no closer than kissing cousins right now.  Mula and Ninny lay the same shade a tan eggs, and I'd like to tell them apart as I want a couple chicks from Ninny but not Mula.  Mula is also noticeably more light-bodied than Betty or Ninny, and often stays up on the roosts to avoid Feyd the feathered tank.

Final part of today's chicken chores: slaughtering those two Cornish-Rocks my neighbor traded me for the barred juveniles.  The nuggets were 12 weeks old yesterday, and I could tell they were failing on the inside.  One had fluid around its heart, and both has fluid around the surprisingly small gizzards.  Their livers were paler than my previous batch of nuggets, but whether that is a function of internal deterioration or the difference in feeding styles is uncertain.

What is certain is that these will probably be our last Cornish-Rock birds.  The very same genetics that give them astoundingly rapid growth is the same genetics that doom them to an early demise - they outgrow their hearts in particular it seems.  They pretty much need to be slaughtered before 12 weeks old.

I have the 25 red broilers to see how they grow up in comparison, health-wise.  CRs are supposed to be slaughtered at 5 and 8 weeks old, while with red broilers the earliest they are supposed to be ready is 12 weeks, and do not have the internal health problems associated with the CRs.  I will be putting that to the test, and am toying with the idea of keeping a trio or quartet to explore the genetics involved.  I did email the hatchery to ask, but got back a vacuous and vapid non-answer in response.  I will at least keep the best pullets to cross with the Wyandottes to see what results.  My goal is to get to the point where I can hatch my own meat birds, instead of ordering them.


Anonymous said...

It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy seeing those beautiful baby chicks. Then as I keep reading, I feel like such a hypocrite. I eat chicken nearly every single day . . . yet I feel almost queasy when I read about you slaughtering yours. My son slaughtered several of ours once and had no problem. But I guess I've got too much city girl in my blood or something ~ I could never do it. Quite foolish actually - I know. That stuff we buy at the store is just loaded with "crap". I think what you're doing is pretty amazing and smart and healthy.

dfr2010 said...

eli, you are not the only one. Slaughtering is certainly not on my list of favorite things to do ... but at least I can do it with proper intentions and the chickens get a real life here. Watching the little chicks hop around and peep certainly brightens the day!