This is a followup to my first article on backyard chickens which was an intro into the concept. Since that time, I had the opportunity for my friend to introduce me to their newly constructed chicken coop and their three new chickens. with that brief intro, lets meet our chicken friends. First up lets meet our cross-bred “sex-link” hybrid, sometimes called a “red star”.
Red Stars are a cross between a Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island White or Delaware hen. Sex-links are cross-bred chickens whose color at hatching is differentiated by sex, thus making chick sexing an easier process. Sex-links come in many varieties and can be extremely good egg-layers which often produce 300 eggs a year or more depending on the quality of care and feed.
Second up is a Buff Orpington that is classified as a “heavy” breed. The hens get to be about 8 pounds. they are winter-hardy as long as they are not subjected to drafts. they lay big light pinkish brown eggs. The breed originated in Orpington, Kent, United Kingdom in the late 1800′s. there are Black Orpingtons, White Orpingtons, Blue Orpingtons (somewhat rare), and Buff Orpingtons – the Buff color being the most prevalent. they are raised for the purposes of both meat and egg production (a “dual purpose” breed).
Last but not least is a Rhode Island Red. they are a utility bird, raised for meat and eggs, and also as show birds. they are a popular choice for backyard flocks because of their egg laying abilities and hardiness.
A modern chicken coop probably has many of the original time tested designs but with a few modern twists. they are relatively small and with some guidance are easy to construct. Basically you need a coop that allows for the chickens to roost, lay eggs, and have food and water. it needs to be easily cleaned. Chickens need to have a way to move inside the coop and the coop is protected with chicken wire to keep predators out. I learned that chickens are great at keeping bugs down and eating scraps. they love to stir up a compost pile. one other note of importance is that chickens need about 14 hours of daylight so some sort of lighting on a timer is needed in the winter to supplement a lack of sun that time of the year.
If you feed these chickens correctly, they will produce eggs for you. These recently purchased chickens had already produced several eggs. I was impressed at how clean the chicken coop was. The chickens were quiet and there was no odor. I’m not ready to build my chicken coop yet, but honestly I would never even have considered it were it not for seeing one up close and in action.
One last picture! if you want your chickens to produce eggs you feed them “egg maker” grains. you can also feed your chickens typical chicken “scratch” (see picture below).
Thanks for learning a bit about chickens. if you have some interesting local stories on raising or preparing your own food, consider sharing it with others here at Fremont Connection! Another interesting topic would be how you overcome zoning regulations in an attempt to grow or produce your own food.