Monday, September 6, 2010

Heritage roosters

new hampshire red rooster

When eggs are hatched the mix of hens and roosters is about 50/50.  The female chicks are usually sold as egg-laying hens and the roosters are either sold very cheap or killed outright at the hatchery.  This is different than what used to happen; the roosters would typically grace the table, but with the heritage breed chickens, the roosters just take a very long time to grow -- 6-7 months -- vs the cornish cross that takes 2 months. 
red leghorn / aracauna cross rooster
Every year I order around 400 male heritage breed chicks from hatcheries because my customer base likes the old-fashioned heritage birds and is willing to buy them.  In fact, I'm the only farm in my county that raises any quantity of heritage rooster, so over the past few years people who want that traditional bird have found me in greater numbers. 
barred rock rooster
It's kind of fun to raise these birds.  All sorts of colors, different behaviors, plumage, and having a mixed flock is more interesting to me as a farmer.  i like having the variety in the barnyard. 
light brahma rooster
The different growth rates are interesting, too.  The picture above is a light brahma that was the early winner in growth rates -- it grew the fastest in the first month or so -- and that faded a bit.  Some of the breeds are bigger than others. 
speckled sussex rooster
The speckled sussex, in this group of birds, has been the calmest of the bunch.   The light brahma is the largest.  the one most likely to have a harem of hens is the barred rock, and the prettiest, of this group, are the new hampshire reds.  They almost glow with their red plumage. 

Out of the original 400 I'm down to about 30 roosters.  They'll all be gone by October. I'll be ordering the next group in a month or so.

1 comment:

Random said...

I know this is REALLY old but if your getting from a hatchery any ameracaunas / aracaunas are EEs (easter egger - mix breed chicken that lays green or blue eggs) and no where near what a true aracauna or ameracauna looks like.

.... Just a bit of a chicken info - you probably don't care, and will continue to refer to them as what the hatchery refers to them as, since you probably already know this but.....