New seasons bring change, and there has certainly been alot of that going on here at The Log Home Kitchen. Let me give you all an update on the latest stirrings. Welcome Spring!
It’s time to start raising a new flock of laying hens! Last year’s crop of pullets didn’t quite measure up to the original flock of old gals, so they have since been put to good use at our local high school garden project. The Winter months gave me time to research more in depth which breeds would best suit my personal criteria. Keep in mind, there are numerous factors to consider when raising a new flock, especially if it’s your first time. I’ll be explaining more on this, so please follow along!
All I can say is, these little muffins are Too. Stinkin’. Cute. The chitter-chatter of tweet-tweets is music to the ears.
The ideal number of hens is eight for a small flock here at The Log Home Kitchen. If they lay daily, that’s 8 eggs a day! I was particularly interested in cold weather hardiness and heat tolerance, temperament, the type of eggs they will produce, and their show quality. Not for actual beauty contests or anything like that. Just eye appeal, so when I look out in the garden or am amongst them that there is a variety of color, plumage and personalities.
This year, I decided on the following breeds:
- Aracauna – Known for laying large colored eggs of various shades from blues to greens.
- Red Star – These are egg laying machines of large brown eggs. Similar to a Rhode Island Red.
- Speckled Sussex – Originally from England and are quite showy, with a deep mahogany base of feathers with specks of black and white. Good layers of large brown eggs.
- White Cochin – Though not great in the egg laying department, these are large divas with all white feathers from head to toe. Even the legs and feet!
I set up a brooder in the house to keep the kids warm until they grow their feathers, which will be about six weeks. Luckily I had a large portable dog kennel that ended up working perfectly. It was necessary to place it on top of a portable table for reasons of 1) They’re easier to get to for feeding and cleaning purposes, and 2) To keep curious cats away. A few cardboard shipping boxes came in handy to cut and place inside the cage to keep the little squirts from escaping, and to keep the bedding of pine shavings inside and not scattered all over the hearth and carpet (which still happens to a small degree).
An infrared heat lamp keeps them warm. As they grow, they will move away from it, indicating the need to raise it higher until they get their feathers.
For feed, I use a medicated chick crumble for the first four months. Unless the chicks have been vaccinated, I highly recommend paying extra for it. It’s good insurance for healthy little ones. I also tried a probiotic formula for the first time that I added to their water, but they started to get loose stools. Since giving them clean water without the additives, they are doing just fine.
The first time they all crashed, I thought for a fleeting moment they were dead! It turns out they sleep on their bellys with their face planted and wings spread out flat.
Hanging a chick treat helps to curtail boredom, and as they grow they tend to get restless until they all do a nose dive in to a deep slumber.
A pair of geese that nest seasonally in the creek bed behind our house have exuberantly trumpeted their landing for the season. Their honking is music to my ears, knowing that indeed, Spring has arrived. Like clockwork, Red Robins have appeared as well, with their deepened orangeish-red breasts, on the hunt for nesting materials and worms. There’s a lot of chitter-chatter from several species vying for their spot to raise their families on the property. The satellite dish, eaves, rain gutters, and pine trees are starting to fill with activity.
It’s’ been a rough Winter for us here at The Log Home Kitchen, with record snowfalls and unfortunate illness that has now subsided. The temps are still chilly, but perfect for yard work and getting out with the dogs for exercise.
What are your plans for the Spring season? Have you thought about raising a handful of laying hens for the wonderful eggs they produce? Please stop in to say hi.
Happy Spring season to all!