We love our technology, but in some ways we are taking the old road.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Chicken Progress

They're getting bigger!

Our Cornish crosses are getting pretty big. We've been rationing their feed for a while, but they grow so rapidly. We'll be ready to butcher the roosters pretty soon.

Oh, and the rationing. It makes them crazy. Chickens that are bred for being meat birds will eat until they get too fat and die. Some of ours have apparently already died of heart attacks; they were fine one moment, then keeled over the next. It happens to these kinds of chickens. So we ration their feed to slow their growth a bit. But then they're so hungry from being on a diet that they mob us when we go in at feeding time. I've taken to wearing pants and gloves, because they'll bite me when I go to grab the feeders or set down full ones. We have to fake them out when we set the full feeders down, too, because they'll run into a big group underneath where we go to set the feeders. So I lean one way with it, then when they all rush there, I quickly set it down somewhere else. These chickens have had all the sense bred out of them.

The Barred Rocks, on the other hand, have much better instincts.

They're more interested in going outside than the others, although most of both kinds have come around to the idea. They all were chicken about going outside in our new run at first. (Ha, ha, but I suppose that kind of thing gave rise to the expression.) Now the Barred Rocks tend to hurry out first, and they really like to graze and forage. But some of the others do, too. And the kids like to feed them pieces of alfalfa and grass.

Do you see the black chicken that's lighter than the others? We ended up with a rooster among the layers. That must happen fairly often, because my parents ended up with one among their Orpington layers last year, too. What's funny is that this rooster is the nicest chicken in the bunch. Now, he's pretty much a baby still, because the barred rocks are more natural and they grow more slowly. He could still get mean and aggressive. But so far he's friendly; he comes near us and lets us pet him and pick him up. The hens are very skittish.

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