Monday, April 15, 2013

Four New Chicks

Betty Boop, a Crested Polish.
This weekend we brought home four new additions to the flock. We are hoping they are all pullets, since we really don't want a rooster. We chose four different breeds, and only one of them (the Ameraucana) is a breed we currently have.

On Saturday morning, the girls and I headed out to pick up one chick at Jax, a favorite farm and ranch store (M wanted a Crested Polish, but Jax was the only place that seemed to have them). She picked one out that will be black and white, with a fountain of feathers atop her head that will look a lot like Phyllis Diller's hat. She is a small, spunky chick, with a little poof on her forehead. M named her Betty Boop, and carried her out to the car in a small box.

We had planned to head up to Ranch-Way Feeds to pick up three others, and knew that they were having a chicken nutrition seminar. I wasn't sure we could stay for the seminar, because I didn't want Betty to get cold. But when we arrived, Ross at Ranch-Way showed us to a back room where there was a nice, cozy empty brooder where Betty could stay warm, tank up on water and food, and hang out for an hour while we went to the seminar.

Hazel, an Ameraucana.
Ranch-Way started out as a flour mill in the 1860s, then was turned into a feed manufacturer in the 1940s. It's been owned by the same family since the 1960s, and produces rations for everything from ducks and horses to musk oxes and elephants. They offer a 20 percent layer ration, which is the highest protein feed for poultry I've been able to find, with organic options, as well. I like that they are a local producer, and was so impressed with their customer service and range of products.

Nettie, a Buckeye.
The seminar was full, and really helpful. They gave us each a sample maintenance diet for poultry that works well in place of scratch. Scratch is relatively low in protein, and it tends to water down the calcium and protein in a hen's diet if she fills up on scratch instead of her layer ration. I am guilty of tossing out too much scratch to my hens. I don't generally offer scratch once the weather warms up, but do like to give it in the winter for warmth.
Rosemary, a Welsummer.

Once the seminar was over, we hurried back to pick up Betty, along with the other three chicks we'd reserved. We chose a Buckeye, a breed with Ohio roots, and the only American breed started by a woman--her name was Nettie Metcalf. We also brought home a Welsummer, who will lay dark red eggs, and an Ameraucana (or, more accurately, an Easter Egger) because we love Pip's blue eggs.

They are now happily settled and peep-peeping in the bathtub, under a heat lamp, and doing very well. They already seem to have distinct personalities and are providing entertainment for all of us. We'll look forward to integrating them into the big girl flock when they get bigger.

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