Poultry and other dreams

While I have 19 chickens (4 Buff Orphingtons, 4 Barred Rocks, 4 Rhode Islands, 5 Amerquanas and 2 random breeds) I really have a huge list of chickens I want to have. This means spending time looking at catalogs and making choices.

One of the big choices I made is that I’d like to buy straight run, that means that the chicks aren’t sexed so they’re a bit cheaper. Generally people want to buy hens which comes with a 90% guarantee, some people buy cockerels which are usually the cheapest since roosters can be a pest. The reason I’m buying straight run is that I’d like to be able to grow my flock naturally and do the selection my self.

This means that in a few months, I’ll pick the best rooster of each variety and the rest get eaten or sold. Hopefully that means next spring I’ll be able to hatch new chicks to either raise or sell, instead of buying from a hatchery each year.

So far I think I’m going to keep the Amerucanas and try to get a free Amerucana rooster for them, but if not they lay nice eggs and forage well. I’m also thinking about keeping the Buffs because they have a reputation as being good foster moms.

My current list is 7 breeds, 5 of those will be new, and since I’m going to be keeping roosters it means 6 breeding/rooster pens. Lots of work and lots of fencing to make this work.

As a result, I’ve dropped the seats in my car and have heavy gloves so that I can start picking up quality pallets. The pallets will be broken apart so that the lumber can be salvaged to build coops and runs. Pallets are free, which lowers the cost of my chicken experiments into the reasonable return on investment range.

I also want to get turkeys, but after my last adventure with turkeys (the two still alive are still at the neighbor’s house and I don’t expect to get them back) I’m a bit concerned. I know more about what to do to keep them safe and contained. One of my roadblocks is that the place I wanted to buy from isn’t doing turkeys this year, and the minimum mail order is 15 birds. At 11 dollars per chick, that’s a lot more than I want. I’ll have to keep looking, maybe one of the other feed stores will have them.

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