Friday, June 02, 2006

Poultry parade

Oh, how the kids love their birds. Chicken and duckling holding is a daily event around here, one which has to be supervised because Eliza is still sometimes too rough with the little ones. Our chicks are now about 6 weeks old and growing like crazy. We have started to notice real differences between the breeds with regard to personality. The Andalusians are tough and fast and like to escape. The Ameracaunas are very easygoing and happy to cluck around the yard without freaking out. Scotty's favorite chick is a huge Ameracauna who he calls "Big Eyes". The Wyandottes are very docile when being held but the cockerels are the biggest aggressors within the flock.

Even more fun lately have been the baby ducklings. We have three Rouen ducklings who are just delightful! They are much more attuned to the humans in their lives than the chicks, and will peep at us when we walk by their brooder (which is currently on the kitchen counter) if their water is low or they want to go for a swim in the cistern. It is so much fun to watch them swim and eat all the cottonwood seeds floating on top of the water. Then suddenly they'll all get the urge to dive. For two weeks old they are FAST little things! The funniest thing though is that they are bullies! When they encounter a chick (twice their size) they just go nuts trying to attack them. The three of them will deliberately strut over to the chickens as if they are looking for a fight.

Chris built a portable brooder so we can move them around the fields. When they are fully grown we hope to let them range free on the pasture, hoping that they will use their brooder as cover from hawks. We may give them a large portable perimeter fence to protect them from dogs--we'll see how it goes.


Danielle said...

Oooh, you have to tell me all about the Rouens! I'm thinking of raising them as meat birds in the next year or so.

Jenny said...

Careful! You might fall in love. They are so dang adorable I can't imagine eating one at this point. Of course, we only have three and they are total pets. When they grow up they'll probably be messy and troublesome enough that I might change my mind, but not with these three (Huey, Dewey, and Louie).

Danielle said...

LOL--love the names!

Which kind of wyandottes, btw? Ours were our friendliest chicks but turned into our most-easily spooked and hard-to-catch hens.

We'll be culling for the first time this fall, so it will be interesting to see how we all deal with it. Our one white turkey is destined for the Thanksgiving table, and the kids have already been well prepped on that.