In honor of the legendary "Bandit" himself, I'm pleased to introduce you all to Burt Reynolds:
Welcome to the family, handsome!
We have had many inquiries lately about hatching some colored-egg-laying chickens, and since we already had some roosters to begin with, we figured, why not add one more? Hatching some blue-egg laying hens will be a bit of a long term project, but it will be patience well spent, as the colored eggs are becoming more desireable.
Burt is a young roo, from another local farm that only wished to keep a single rooster for his flock of 12 hens. This handsome fella is an Ameraucana/Easter Egger (not sure how purebred he is) Roo, and ideally, when bred with one of our Ameracauna hens, they will produce offspring that also hatch blue-hued eggs! We have a couple of hens who we have let go broody, as we have enough other ones laying regularly. So, we should be able to test the theory soon!
Note & Decor Tip: Colored eggs do not taste any different, and the yolk and whites are still the same as well. I loved having these around for Easter time - colored eggs without the mess of dye!
The biggest hurdles with this project, are that we have a mixed flock, and we don't have an incubator (c'mon Santa!). With an incubator we would have stronger hatch rates than we might end up with using a broody hen. However, it is pretty magical to do things the way nature intended.
Having a mixed flock, means that we have a variety of chicken breeds. We have Polish, Silkies, a Rhode Island Red, and others. All of our chickens share the same coop and run, so in order to get a pure Ameracauna/Easter Egger chick, we will have to temporarily separate our new friend Burt, and a few of our colored egg laying ladies (Wynonna, LeeAnn, Tammy, June, Sylvia, and Annie). This separation won't be for longer than a week most likely, as they get to know one another, and have opportunities to fertilize some of the blue eggs.
Once we have some fertilized eggs (as verified by candling) then the Ameracaunas may return to the full flock once again.
Roosters often get a bad rep, which is a shame if you ask me. Yes, they are at times loud. Some can be aggresive, too. However, one bad apple shouldn't ruin the whole bunch! They are often free at farm swaps because you can only keep so many of them, but they are always stunningly beautiful - sad to give away such masterpieces... Roosters are great for flock protection - they alert the hens when any potential predetor enters the area. They also alert when they find a good food source, so all of the hens can make their way over for a snack. They do crow when the sun comes up, but if you're into country living, you may find that this sound is actually quite comforting.
We have mostly bantam (small breed) Silkie roosters, which are more docile in general. They are less likely to beat up on one another so most of the time, everyone lives together peacefully. Sometimes, our roosters even crow in unison - our own backyard chorus line!
We do have one rooster that was more territorial and was being a bit too tough on our other boys. So, we found a solution that allowed us to keep him in the flock, and not in freezer camp...
These are "chicken blinders":
They look sort of like sunglasses on the roosters, and they clip into their beaks. The blinders are supposed to be painless for the rooster, and don't actually blind them completely.
Blinders block straight-on vision for the chickens, which causes them to lose their confidence a bit, making it harder for them to plot an attack. When they can't confidently aim to attack another rooster, they simply don't. These are also great for hens that might be a bit aggresive about their pecking order. The blinders are easily removed or exchanged using a small plier-like tool that comes with the purchase on Amazon.com.
Everyone manages their chickens differently. This is the solution that worked for us, allowing all of our birds to live together in harmony, without us having to rehome anyone, or cull any of them. We set some "cheap sunlgasses" on Burt while he adjusts, but depending on how he behaves, in the future we may remove them.
Stay tuned for news on hatched chicks... In the meantime, Thelma the Silkie chicken has about seven more fertilized Silkie eggs under her plumage - more Silkies by the end of the month! Message us if you're interested in Silkie chicks!