The Rest of the Chicken Family – The Bantams

Many of you have asked me about Della . . the sweet little bantam girl who was living withe the evil red hens who pecked open all her eggs before they hatched.

Della

Della

We removed her from the coop with the mean chickens and put Della in the little coop right next to the red chickens. She was alone but she could see them and they all hung out by the fence together each day. But Della was truly lonely. She wanted to be with her chickens her own size so we moved her into the bantam coop. It was not a smooth transition. A couple of the chickens in there were downright mean to sweet little Della. I would pick her up several times a day, hold her, tell her it was going to be ok, feed her strawberries or blueberries and then put her back in there. I am much relieved that they have all now bonded.

Della

Della

Della has not begun to lay again and I suppose it’s because of all the trauma . . losing her babies, then getting moved, then getting moved again, but she seems happy and content now and I’m hoping she will begin laying again soon.

Boys in the Bantam Coop

Boys in the Bantam Coop

We have some handsome guys in the bantam coop if Della decides she would like to have a boyfriend!  In front is Petunia, which really isn’t a good name for a boy but so far, he has not complained. In the back is Screech and he is still the dominant rooster in the coop. He makes sure everyone knows it  . .  including Vince and me.

Edith

Edith

This is a Sebright and her name is Edith. She is very petite but not very friendly with us, though she doesn’t seem to cause any problems in the coop.

Buff Brahma Bantam

Buff Brahma Bantam

This is a  Buff Brahma  Bantam. We have several of these. One of them was one of Pearl’s original babies but she is no longer joined at the hip with Pearl.

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Pearl

Pearl, of course, is not a bantam but I’m not telling her that! We tried moving her to another coop and she was heartbroken and stopped eating so we put her back. She doesn’t hurt anyone so she can stay in there with them. She’s a full sized white leghorn and she lays one big, white egg almost every day.

Chief

Chief

There are a few others but I didn’t get pictures of them. This little guy is Chief! He’s an offspring of our original Silkies. There were 6 that hatched out after we lost the others, I gave one rooster away, a snake killed one and we were left with 4 – 2 whites, a black and Chief. One of Pearl’s babies was a buff colored Silkie so now we have five Silkies, with Chief being our only Silky rooster. I love that Chief reminds me of all or our original Silkies. We had Thelma and Louise who were solid white. They were both supposed to be hens but Thelma ended up being a rooster. We had Tiffany who was buff colored and Smokey who was blackish/grayish/blue. Chief has the buff colors, just a little white, and the dark tail feathers. He’s such a pretty rooster!  His earlobes are turquoise, as they are supposed to be on a Silkie, but they’re huge and look like he’s wearing big ear rings. Don’t you think he’s so pretty? He was the only rooster in there til the other bantams moved in and little, bitty Screech quickly showed Chief who was the boss. They don’t fight but there’s no doubt who’s the top dog in that coop . . it’s Screech!

Wilbur’s Kids

A while back, someone had asked if different breeds of chickens will “do what boys and girls do” and create weird offspring. Yes . . any hen in the chicken yard is fair game, according to how the roosters think.

We have big old Wilbur and he was our only full size rooster til recently.

WIlbur

WIlbur

Wilbur, a Dominique rooster, has been molting so he’s been a bit “fluffy” with all his loose feathers. The hens love to stand around and pull out all his loose feathers and he seems to love the attention. There are four hens with him, two Dominique hens and two red hens. All five of these chickens are about the same age – 2-1/2 years old.

From what I’ve read, heritage type roosters can live 10 – 15 years, though they will get slower and less “frisky” as they get older. Heritage type hens will continue to lay for about 5 years though their egg production will tape off as they get older. Hybrid chickens vary . . these red hens we have are supposed to lay an egg just about every day for 2 – 3 years and then stop laying completely. Our two remaining older red hens are still laying an egg just about every day. Of course, none of that is written in stone. I think the general feeling is that roosters live to be about 5 – 8 years old and I’ve heard of some, on rare occasions that lived to be 20+ years old.

But, Wilbur has his way with all four hens in his area.  Every time we’ve had eggs in the incubator, I’ve added a couple of eggs from Wilbur’s girls  as “test” eggs because I know how old the eggs are and I know how they’ve been kept/handled.

At first, I would just use eggs from the Dominique hens so I had full bred Dominique babies but the last time, I decided to put in eggs from Wilbur and the red hens too. Our red sex links, which is what the red laying hens are, supposedly came from a New Hampshire Red rooster and a Delaware hen.

The Dominiques have rose combs (kinda scrunched up and flattish) and barred feathering (the black and white almost stripes). The red hens have single combs and the chickens are red.

We call all the offspring from this coop “Wilbur’s Kids”.

Wilbur's Kids

Wilbur’s Kids

See the two black/white barred (striped – not the spotted one) chicken above? Notice how one of them is obviously black and white and the one closer to the front is more black and tan? She’s from the red hen.

Wilbur's Kids

Wilbur’s Kids

See the almost solid black one above? He’s also one of Wilbur’s kids with the red hen. He’s almost all black with some tinges of red. He totally lost the barring.

Now you see what happens behind closed doors in the chicken coop . . we’re going to be getting all kinds of weird babies from all the different breeds. When we want purebred babies, we’ll separate those hens and roosters and keep them separate from the other breeds til we get all the eggs we want to hatch.

In one coop, I have a few Black Copper Marans, a couple of full bred Dominiques and two Speckled Sussex. Eventually, when I’m feeling brave, I’m going to put the two Dominiques in with Wilbur. One of the youngers ones is a rooster so we may have to decide if it’s time for Wilbur to go or if we want to keep the younger rooster. I can’t have 5 hens and 2 roosters in the same coop.

I’ll pull out the 2 Speckled Sussex and put them in a separate pen in order to get full bred Speckled Sussex eggs, and that will leave only the Black Copper Marans in their coop so I’ll be able to get purebred eggs from them. Then the fun will begin when it’s time to combine them all again, and then put the babies back in with them. We’re not going to hatch any more eggs any time soon so I’m not even thinking about that right now.

Did you know  . .  hens have a “sperm sack” so when they mate with a rooster, the sperm go into the sack and can survive in there maybe longer than 30 days!  They say that the breeds should be isolated for at least 30 days if you want to be 100% sure you’re getting purebred offspring. They also say (whoever “they” is) that the newest sperm are the most active so after about two weeks, chances are, you’re going to get the most recent sperm that are fertilizing the eggs. Since we’re not selling fertile eggs and only hatching them for our own use, we’ll probably just wait the two weeks. The longer the chickens are away from the others, the hard it’s going to be to put them back together again.

There . . more than you ever wanted to know about breeding chickens!  :)

Design Wall – July 21, 2014

Crazy internet this morning. Almost never got online and it’s slow as heck. I was tempted to give up since this is the same design wall photo as last week.

Design Wall

Design Wall

Inspire me! I love seeing what you’re all working on and almost every week, after looking at the design wall photos, I open EQ and doodle a bit but that’s about as far as I get.

Thanks to each of you who post your pictures!