Do you find yourself constantly scanning the classifieds and social media sites for chicks for sale? Do you have a collection of roosters that you don’t know what to do with? Have you been to a poultry swap? If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, YOU MAY HAVE GONE CHICKEN CRAZY!
It starts off as a simple interest. You want to get a few chickens so you can enjoy some “farm fresh eggs”. But, you soon find out there are MANY different breeds of chickens. Some have adorable little beards, some have fluffy little muffs (those cute tufted cheeks), some have funky crests (fuzzy feathers on top of their heads), and some even have feathers on their legs and feet! And then you learn not only do they lay white and brown eggs, but there are also chickens that lay shades of blue, green, pink, cream, and even chocolate brown eggs. How do you possibly choose?
This is when the obsession strikes – you decide you NEED to get a whole bunch of different chickens that lay all of those wonderful colours of eggs. And while you are at it, you should probably get a few of those “really unique” breeds, well, just because they look so different. You will soon find out when buying those adorable little chicks that they are usually sold “straight-run” (which means “unsexed”). In order to get the hens you want for all those colourful eggs, you’ll have to buy several chicks of each breed (since there is about a 50-50 chance (or even 60-40) that they will be roosters).
Before you know it, you’ve acquired A LOT of chickens. If you are lucky, some of them will turn out to be hens. While they are growing, they will eat A LOT of food, drink A LOT of water, and need A LOT of love. And they grow fast… within a few months you will have almost fully grown chickens, ready to get out and forage around in their world. In return, they will reward you with lots of quirky behaviour, and maybe even some of those “farm fresh eggs” you started off wanting!
Just be prepared – once you’ve gone CHICKEN CRAZY it is hard to stop.
We’ve had chickens for a while now, but our obsession really started this year. We decided we wanted to be able to sell a few eggs, and create our own “unique” flock of chickens at the same time. So, we got our first bunch of chicks because we really wanted some fluffy little Silkies. We started off purchasing 4 Silkies (which we now know are 2 hens and 2 roosters). Along with those Silkies, we ended up getting our Cream Brabanter (rooster), and 2 Maranters (Cream Brabanter x Maran), which fortunately turned out to be hens. Then, we wanted some “blue” egg layers, so we bought 6 Ameraucana chicks (3 hens and 3 roosters). Then came the poultry swaps – where we eagerly bought several more chicks over the next couple of months: 6 White Chanteclers (haven’t figured out how many hens/roosters yet), 3 Olive Eggers (2 hens, 1 rooster), 6 “Barnyard” mix chickens (which all turned out to be roosters), a breeding pair of Salmon Faverolles (which have turned into absolutely beautiful birds – 1 hen and 1 rooster), and several chicks that their breeders each said were girls (and we are still hoping they were correct): 2 Easter Egger hens, 3 Black Copper Maran hens (for their chocolate-coloured eggs), and 2 more Ameraucana hens. And just to make sure we had a bunch of regularly laying hens, we also bought 12 ISA Brown chicks (all girls).
We purchased all of these chicks in phases over the last few months, which resulted in spending a lot of time raising the little ones in our garage. As each group was ready to go out, we moved them from the “garage brooders” to a special brooder area we built for them in our new chicken coop. After a few days in the coop brooder, each group was released into the full chicken coop with all the others. From there, they have full access each day to the attached (fenced-in) outdoor run. It is a really great space, and holding up well to all the new additions!
So, we now have a total of 49 new chickens, and YES we have gone CHICKEN CRAZY! Out of these new additions, we’ll probably end up with 32 hens, and 17 roosters. It is still hard to tell for sure which are which (with some of them), but we should start to see clear differences for everyone soon. Some of our first roosters have started crowing now (which is so cute to hear as they are learning), and our Maranters have both just started to lay eggs! The oldest of the roosters are also starting to realize they are roosters (which means chasing the hens around to have some “fun”, and becoming a little more aggressive with each other), so we are building them their own coop and will be moving them away from the hens as soon as it’s done. I’ll post pictures of that separately, as it is part Rooster House and part Buck House (for our new boy goats). I’m calling it “Buck-a-Roo Manor”!
We are fortunate here to have the space to expand and keep our roosters separated – but for anyone who is not able to keep all the roosters they end up with, you’ll need to make sure you have a plan in place for all of them!
Here are the pictures of what our obsession has resulted in – our crazy flock from when they were just little puff balls, to having them all together in our chicken coop now (before moving the roosters out)! They really are a lot of fun (a lot of work too, but totally worth it). Many of our new chickens have become very people-friendly, and even jump up on your shoulders or sit in your lap – one of the benefits of raising them from chicks. Hope you enjoy!
Click the thumbnails below to view larger images…