Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The chicks have arrived, farming calendar

Received our first batch of chicks for sale this summer. In this batch there's 50 roosters, 100 buff orpington hens, and 100 cornish cross meat chicks. We also ordered 25 bantam chicks because I like to keep a small flock of bantams on the farm.
This is a buff orpington chick on the right, and a bantam chick on the left. Notice the size difference in the feet between these two birds. Buff orpingtons are a heritage breed egg layer, and are really quite pretty when they're full grown.
Here's the same bantam chick next to a cornish cross chick. I'll take some more pictures to compare these two as they grow. The cornish cross will be 4-6lbs in 8 weeks. The bantam will be about 1/4 of a pound in the same timeframe. This cornish cross chick weighs 50% more than the buff orpington chick at this age. It doesn't look that much bigger, but you can feel it when you pick them up.
This is a free chick of some sort. I don't know what breed it is, but it looks interesting.

It's got that pronounced stripe down the back and face markings. So it may be a sexlink... these free chicks are almost always roosters, which is fine by me. I like roosters.

Shipping mortality
Buff orpingtons; zero dead on delivery, but one with a birth defect that'll probably be fatal
cornish cross; zero dead on delivery. all look OK.
white leghorn roosters; all 25 doing well.
delaware roosters; all 25 doing well
straight run bantam; 16 out of 25 dead on arrival, expect a few more to die overnight.
It may be too early in the year to ship bantams. they don't have the body mass to withstand cold very well, so I'm guessing they got chilled somewhere in transit, poor little guys. I'm going to ask that they ship the replacements in a month so it's a little warmer for them.
Prep for recieving chicks
Fill bins with chips, fill wateres and feeders
Put lamps in and test surface temperature under lamps for 100 degrees. Adjust lamps to provide that temp at the surface.
allow the lamps to run overnight to make sure that the chips are dry and warm when the chicks arrive.
Putting chicks in the bins
Sort through the chicks and segretate those that don't appear to be doing well
dip each chicks beak into the water
Observe to make sure they've found the light, and tap the food to get them to notice it
24 hour check
Count and tally overall mortality, call hatchery and get replacements. Refill food and water, check temperatures again.
We have pre-ordered 300-700 chicks per month for the next 5 months.


MMP said...

To me, that odd chick looks like what Murray McMurray hatchery identifies as a Americana, the south american chicken that lays a pale green egg. Easter Egg chickens. the stripes look very similar to our Americana chicks from last spring.

500 to 700 a month. That's a lot of chicks. Have fun

Snowi-Ella said...

AWW. They're really cute and fluffy.

It's sad that so many die. Do you have to pay for the replacements, too?

Bruce King said...

Yea, it seems like a lot of chicks, but we've sold out all that we've grown out each year for the past three. Those folks who can buy from the hatcheries and feed stores in early spring do so, and those folks who want chickens that lay eggs a week or two after purchase buy from me.

MMP said...


We're going for a similar market on a smaller scale here. We ordered chicks last year that arrived in late March. We didn't have eggs until September and they didn't really get up and going until into January, waiting for the light to change, I think.

This year we hatched our own in January so they will start laying in June. It's our prediction that laying birds will fetch a premium in June. I thought I was getting a reasonably early start in March last year, but when I did the math and realized I wasn't going to see eggs till into the fall, I was disappointed with my planning. We'll probably sell some of our older birds (still only a year old) and keep a few of this winters hatch for our own summer eggs. But were in full swing now, selling eggs to our local food coop.

One of the difficulties I am facing is maintaining good genetics. We hadn't intended to hatch our own eggs, so I didn't get a specific rooster, we held onto the rare breed rooster MMH included free with the order. Most of the fertilizin' was done by a Buff Cochin, a big fella. Some of the results make us think that extra Americana hen is a him, though. There are a couple of chicks we can't explain as a coupling with that Cochin Buff. I have been casting around for a good quality rooster who would compliment our hen breeds. I think I am going to have to cast further, though, as I am coming up empty handed.

Anonymous said...

How can you tell roosters from hens? I was under the impression we just had to wait a few months and then we will know. We just bought 20 chicks last week, is there a way to tell right off? Or do you buy them already sexed?