The Saturday after getting the meat chickens, Mom and I drove down to Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Cincinnati to pick up her laying hens. All then hens I have had at my house, except for two, have come from Mt. Healthy. I know they’ve been in the news occasionally, but I’ve never had problems with them, and I’ve been extremely happy with the quality of the chicks.
Dad wanted an assortment of breeds so what we ordered were: 2 Light Brahmas, 4 Easter Eggers, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Gold Lace Wyandotte, 2 Silver Lace Wyandottes, 1 Black Australorp, 1 Buckeye, 1 Barred Plymouth Rock, and 1 Buff Orpington. Heritage breed chicks are just so stinking cute:
I was leaving on a business trip so we brought the dog crate to the farm (it had been at my house where there’s more room right now), and put it in the room where tools are being stored during house renovation. After a day it was obvious that the dog crate was not big enough, so we borrowed one and ended up with this setup:
The meat chicks are on the left and the laying chicks are on the right. Next year we definitely need an outdoor brooder.
The meat chicks are Cornish Rocks and I have to say I will never get this breed of chickens again. I had read about their differences, but they’re just chickens right? The behavior between the two different brooders is amazing. The heritage chicks scratch and forage. They clean themselves. They play. The Cornish Rocks sleep, huddle, eat (while laying down), and drink. They are also about the most scraggly looking bird I’ve ever seen. Compared to other pictures I found online this is normal? I guess? Also you can see from the picture the plastic liner is really dirty. The Cornish Rock’s brooder needs cleaned about twice for every one time the heritage breed brooder needs cleaned. I’d write this off as there are more, but it is only a five chick difference.
Next year we’ll be getting heritage breed meat chickens. They take longer to raise, but from what I have read and now experienced, this breed has had too much meddling from human science.
The heritage chicks are starting to get their wing feathers. There are a couple we can identify, but as of right now we’re in that stage of wondering if the correct chickens got put in our box. Mom was in talking to them yesterday and noticed something on their feet. She called me in and I’d never seen it before. Mom googled the issue and apparently they are called manure balls:
I’d never seen this before in any of my chicks. Apparently when they walk in dirty bedding they can accumulate manure on their feet and it turns into rock hard little balls. We soaked the feet of of 33 chicks last night and cleaned all their feet. It was not a fun job. And again, I have to wonder-the heritage chicks were in with the meat chicks for awhile, could it have to do with how dirty they are? The Chicken Chick has a good article on manure balls and other issues that you can read here.
Mostly things are going well. They’re all growing. Hopefully the Cornish Rocks get feathered out soon and we can send them back to my house to live in the fenced in garden for a few weeks before butchering. We’re in the process of building a two part coop at the farm, but the anticipation of having chicks this year was greater than having a coop beforehand. I mean, look at that first picture, how can you resist the cuteness?