Update on Backyard Chickens

The Buff Brahmas are heritage Chickens from China. They are a dual purpose bird, that means they are used for eggs and meat. I prefer the birds for meat, they lay small eggs. Hens will weigh 9lbs full-grown, 5-6 pounds at 6 months old.  Buff Brahmas grow much slower than many dual purpose birds. Roosters will weigh 6-7lbs at 6 months, full-grown at year 10-12lbs. Cuckoo Marans are from France and they are a heritage breed. The hens lay dark brown eggs and the breed produces large muscle mass quickly. Butcher weight at 4 months at least 4-5lbs after butchering.  You lose at least 2lbs after skinning and gutting. I will butchering the March Cuckoo Maran and mix breed roos (young roosters) the end of this month.

Most older hens stop laying eggs in the fall and molt (shed old feathers). This gives their reproductive organs time for rest and needed energy for new feather production. The younger hens will continue to lay eggs through the winter and they do not molt their first year. I always keep a couple young hens and butcher the hens that are 3 years old. After 3 years egg production starts declining. This is a generalization, some hens keep on laying for years.

I will be posting a blog on how to butcher your own chickens. Do not read that blog if you have a sensitive stomach. My method is easy on the chicken, you slit the throat and bleed out the chicken in less than a minute. The chicken isn’t scared until the knife slices the throat because they have been handled since hatching.  I skin my chickens and will be freezing this group for roasting and frying. The roos hatched in April will be canned and I will post a blog on how to can meat. I only freeze a few roos because our electrical is iffy during the winter so I don’t have a big freezer. Last year I canned 50 roos. This year I will be canning 30 roos. I butcher five a day and can until I’m done around the end of August. My April brooder hatching was small this  year.

Heritage bred chickens are endangered because of factory farming. One of the reasons why I raise and butcher chickens. The other reason I raise my own chickens is because I will not buy meat that has been factory farmed. The cruelty the animals are subjected to is extreme also the chemicals, GMO feed, and antibiotics given to the chickens. We will also be eating what the chicken has eaten including chemicals and medicines. If I couldn’t buy meat from small organic farms or grow my own chickens I would be a vegan. Not the mean kind of vegan either. I don’t want to convert anyone to my way of living or seeing the world.  Without diversity of our livestock we are at risk of disease and loss of our food grid. No one wants roosters if they have chickens just for eggs. I butcher my roos and I sell my pullets to backyard chicken fanciers. Most cities and suburbs do not allow roosters, too much noise crowing I guess.

The Cuckoo Marans were developed in France in the town of Marans during the mid 1800’s. It is a dual purpose bird and is known for its deep chocolate brown eggs which some eggs may have some speckled dark pigments in the egg-shell. The brown egg color can vary in darker and lighter as the hen’s go through their laying cycles. Vitamin K and calcium can have some limited help with keeping the dark brown egg-shell color. They are a fast growing bird and a very rare breed here in the United States. The Cuckoo Marans have a black and white feather color pattern similar to the Barred Plymouth Rock. Cackle Hatchery® ’s Cuckoo Marans have limited/to no feathers on their legs and are a production type blood line.

Buff Brahma Chickens are a gentle giants with feathered legs. The Buff Brahma Chickens are a mostly buff coloring but has black tail feathers and neck feathers have black in them. They lay nice brown eggs and are winter hardy. The Buff Brahma chicken is slow to mature but are gentle and make good mothers. Chicks from Cackle Hatchery® ’s Buff Brahma breeding flocks are shipping April 15th – August 15th . So be sure to order these early to reserve your Buff Brahma Chickens.

This is why I will not buy Cornish Cross Factory bred birds. This chicken is what you get when you buy from your grocery store. I raised six to see what happens to them. They grow so fast their legs become deformed and they cannot walk. The birds will die if the weather becomes too hot, they will sit out in the hot sun rather than walk to the shade. Their heart may burst or become infected because of the burden of producing so much muscle in a short amount of time. The birds get infections easily because their immune system is stressed from the fast growth rate. The chicken personality is still the same sweet personality as my heritage breeds but the poor thing is stuck in a monster’s body. The birds are unable to reproduce on their own and will not live beyond a year old.

The Jumbo Cornish Cross Chicken is a fast developing; broad breasted meat type chicken. Ready to dress in six weeks or sooner. Feed high protein feed that is 21% or better. Fluid in the body cavity (Ascite) and/or leg weakness may result and it may be necessary to restrict the feed intake – slowing down the growth rate.