Spring Chickens


We’ve always had pretty basic chicken breeds. Good layers, nice birds, but nothing crazy. For some reason, all of a sudden, I’m kind of craving the crazy. Probably has something to do with all the pictures people are posting on Backyard Chickens Forum of their beautiful, exotic breeds.

I love our Golden Comets, but I really want to move from production birds to heirloom breeds. This spring, I’m planning to add Buff Orpingtons — gorgeous, plump, bright gold Buff Orpingtons. They’re not crazy, but they are beautiful. They’re also pretty laid-back and docile, and according to my friend and “chicken source” at the feed and seed, some of her best layers.

Buff Orp Hen
(from Harmony Poultry)

Partridge Rocks, on the other hand, are a little more special. Another heirloom breed, they’re a branch of the Plymouth Rock family, like Barred Rocks, which we’ve had great success with in the past. But Partridge Rocks are more rare and very beautiful — a deep red bird with fine black penciling on each feather. Those will be arriving about a month after the Buffs.

Partridge Rock
(from My Pet Chicken)

But what I’m really excited about is getting Silkies. They’re one of those breeds that you look at and think “that thing can have no actual purpose in the world.” They’re all fluffy and fuzzy and impractical looking. They come in various colors of plumage, but they all have black skin, black bones, and blueish-grey flesh. You can’t tell me that’s not crazy.

(from The Ark in Space)

Another characteristic of the breed is broodiness, meaning that the hens really, really like to sit on eggs and hatch them out. Although their “nest hog” tendencies mean you have to make sure you have enough extra nests for your other birds to lay (which is why I’m only planning to get a few silkies), I’m excited about the idea of hatching our own chicks. Yes, I could do it myself in an incubator, but how fun would it be to see a little mama hen lead a bunch of tiny fuzzy-butts into the run for the first time?

Silkie with chicks
(from Brandywine Croft)

The bad part is that this warm weather (again!) has me fooled into thinking it’s time to set up the brooder and pick up the chicks, when in reality, I still have to wait about a month. I guess it just means that I have plenty of time to get the chicken tractor painted and the wire put on before we’ll be needing it…


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