Alright, back to Chh, chh, chh, chook.
One of the things I wish we’d thought about, and researched more thoroughly when starting our chicken adventure was which breed and where we got the chickens. We basically went with the breeds that we’d been exposed to via friends or family. Our own original criteria were limited:
1. Is it a layer or a ‘meat-producing’ bird?
2. Is it docile?
3. Does the feed store have ’em?
Things to think about when selecting your chicken breeds so not to make the same mistakes we did :
1. Heat Tolerance
Short of placing the hen in a chicken diaper, those girls are going to be outside in the Tucson heat and, just like plants, there are some varieties that are more tolerant of our extreme weather than others. Buff Orpingtons*, the first three cuddly hens we got, are docile and lovable, but not well suited for the desert heat. I wish we’d got at least one Penedesenca, although they’re reported to not be too hot on the whole human contact thing, or a Silkie Bantam. Good grief, those banties might not produce a whole lot of eggs, or very big eggs, but apparently they’re heat tolerant and cute. If you’re looking for a go-to heat tolerant, high producing egg chick, the Rhode Island Red does the trick. Rosy and Lucy our two Rhode Island Reds are very docile and tolerant of the Bean picking them up.
2. Egg Color
Different breeds produce varying egg colors. I’m not sure I realized just what a thrill there would be to a multi-colored collection of eggs. What better than placing green eggs and ham (not green) in front of your kid.
I would really like a dark brown egg producing and heat-tolerant Pendesenca. If only I could convince someone (cough, Green) of our need for another chicken or three. Especially a chicken that produces chocolate brown colored eggs. I wonder if I promised to give up chocolate?
3. Immunization or accessibility to medicated feed
There was a horrible two week period when I was convinced that our Buff Orpingtons had Marek’s Disease. Marek’s is a prevalent, nasty disease that puts an end to your chicken dreams. The good news is that the chicks can be vaccinated against it or you can provide medicated feed. None of the six local feed stores we got our chicks at had any idea if their chicks were vaccinated, and I never did find medicated feed locally.
If When we get more chickens we’ll go directly to a hatchery. I’ve heard Murray McMurray’s is good and other friends have ordered from mypetchicken.com.
Next time on Chh, chh, chook: Palais a Poule aka Hen Palace; Lessons learned