Just for your knowledge even you think my life has gone to the dogs, which is pretty much true, I want you to know that I have a new hobby. I am raising show quality chickens. The breeds I have settled on are Black Copper Marans, Blue/Blue Copper Marans and Wheaten Marans. Also I am getting Cream Legbars. My laying flock consists of Rhode Island Reds (mainly), white and brown Leghorns, Cochins (Blue and White), Orpingtons (Buff and Lavender), Silkies (White and Black) and Easter Eggers. My Marans are in separate pens and not let loose. The main flock gets to free range. I am going to set up an outside yard for the Marans but want it predator proof.
As it was, a neighbors black lab got into the barn and killed three of my show Marans. Chuck said he would pay for the hens but I have yet to see the check. I told him to keep his dog locked up. If he doesn't pay, I will contact Animal Control and put a report on his dog. His dog has roamed to the neighbor above me, the neighbor two miles west of me and the neighbor 1.5 miles east of me. I hope he does right by me. His dog has been roaming for months.
Back to the post on chickens. I have learned to find out what is show quality and as a result, weeded out a lot of my original flock. For the Marans, I am looking for feathered legs, copper hackles, and dark eggs. The eggs are rated 1-10, 4 being the standard to 10 being the darkest. Mine lay 4-6 standard at this point.
The Marans are a rare breed and quite beautiful. For those of you that are a 007 fan, James Bond only ate Marans eggs. They are a nice sized bird and very friendly. Docile and easy to keep. When I decide to incubate any eggs, I pick the darkest eggs (that is consistent over two weeks per hen). I just had my first hatch and all the chicks have nice feathering on their legs. I will grow them out to see how they turn out. I will be adding fresh stock to my flock and try to get close to the egg desired color rating of 10. It's a work in progress and I am learning tons as I go along.
Of course, I still have my sheep and dogs but sometimes, after I work the dogs, I want to do something fun, for now, the chickens are my fun hobby. I am keeping only three pens of the show chickens so that will keep me in check. Any hens that don't make the egg criteria, will move into laying coop. And I will have some breeding trio for sale later.
Maid and Rainey are my partners in this chicken adventure. They make sure the hens don't escape as I feed them. And if I need to catch one, they are so happy to "pen" one for me. They are very good and gentle and know the routine. Maid is very gentle with the hens and air snaps if needed.
So far, I am enjoying this side adventure, We shall see how this goes!
What breed of chickens do you have?