In addition to getting rabbits we also decided that we would get some more chickens. We had already decided on black sex-linked birds or as some hatcheries call them Black Stars. The reason for this is a couple years ago when we lived in Illinois and had a quarter acre back yard we had lots of varieties of chickens. We kept 50+ birds and started with McMurray hatchery birds that were 25 assorted brown egg layers. The variety came with orpingtons, rhode island reds, barred rocks, dark cornish, white rocks, and several other varieties including our bonus chicken that turned out to be a buff polish rooster.
Later we ended up getting a mix of 15 white rocks, and 15 rhode island reds. We raised all these birds and got lots of experience with which ones were better producers, brooders, and fighters. Over the course of raising these birds we sold several and ended up butchering the less than average producers, and well the rooster had to go as he decided he was going to be very vocal all day and night, which as we heard was not common for the polish, so something must have been out of the ordinary for this rooster.
The following year we ended up getting a handful of black stars as we were looking for australorps, and we ended up with a couple welsummers. Both of these breeds turned out to be fantastic birds and additionally we bought 25 meat birds that were cornishX. The meat birds were butchered after 7 weeks as they were huge, as we kept them on an enriched meat bird diet. The black stars and welsummer turned out to be great layers. We later sold the welsummers and kept the black stars through winter. Those birds layed all winter as we kept a light in there coop to increase the daylight hours. We averaged about 32 eggs a week from those 5 birds all through winter. So it was only natural after moving back to Colorado that we would get some more black stars.
Black stars are very gentle birds, and as our experiences have shown us these birds have a personality all there own. After being exposed to a cold snap with some rainfall we lost about 8 birds and two of the black stars were struggling for life. We nursed them back to health and gave them some 5 star accomodations over the next couple of days and they really bonded with us. In fact you would think they were a regular family pet. We would step out on the back porch and holler their names and they would come running full steam at us and follow us around the yard. They were so funny at times that even our neighbors and house guests were amused at their demeanor. They would always let us pick them up and they were great around children and toddlers.
As I write this it is two weeks later and our little chickens are growing fast and have doubled in size. Their new thing is to jump on top of their watering can and then fly out of the brood. We now keep the brood covered with a wire mesh to keep them contained. The coming weeks will prove challenging as they continue to grow and become more curious. We will probably start moving them outdoors during the day into a chicken tractor and then returning them to their brood at night.
We are currently feeding them an enriched starter feed, from our feed store. They are eating about a quart of food every other day or so, but has been changing as they get bigger. In the next couple days we might have to refill their feeder daily.
After this last weekend, there have been a couple changes as these little girls keep flying the coop. They will not be contained, which is common with baby chicks that are discovering their wings. They are getting their feathers and they look pretty rough, but that will pass in the next few weeks.
They are growing fast and each day they are learning something new. The latest thing they like to do is jump/fly on top of the water container and chirp as loud as they can. They seem to take turns doing this, with one clearly dominant. We call them town meetings and it is quite entertaining to see them work out their pecking order.
Now its time to get their new home ready as in a week or two they will be sturdy enough to endure the weather outside.