12 September 2008

Buckeye Chick Update - 1 Month

Buckeye Update

So, the Buckeye chicks are a month old! In a previous post I described getting the day-old chicks. Now here they are, about five times the size they arrived (at least!) --

Buckeye Update

The red ones are Buckeys, the black ones are Australorps, both will grow up to be brown egg layers. I picked th Australorps, I confess, because I love a glossy black chicken from a photography/aesthetic point of view. Plus I have an old black hen of unknown origin who is my favorite... The Australorps, I read, are a friendly docile chicken. Someone forgot to tell my batch this as they are a shy, flighty bunch with one striking exception of a little gal who will follow you like a pup. But maybe they are only flighty when compared to my beloved little Buckeyes, who are basically fearless.

The Buckeye is the only U.S. chicken breed developed by a woman. Hattie Metcalf of Ohio developed the breed in the 1800s to be dual purpose (meat/eggs), vigorous free rangers, friendly personality and very cold hardy. While the last part isn't so critical in Arkansas as in Ohio, the personality (friendly, fearless, hate mice and make unusual sounds!) and free-range foraging traits perked up my interest.

I first read about them on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy "critical" list of varieties of chickens of which there are 500 or fewer birds, or less than five breeding flocks (50 birds) in the U.S. The Buckeye was on their priority list to preserve and the traits were enough for me to say THAT's the chicken to take on as a Larrapin farm project! (ALBC's Buckeye page)

Maintaining the genetic heritage of these livestock breeds as we go into the future is a part of sustainable living in my opinion. Our ancestors couldn't depend factory-grown chickens (can we? should we? I won't buy the stuff after living here in their chicken raising part of the world and seeing how industrial birds are raised...) so farmers of the past developed breeds that could live in the real world, in specific locales. That is a genetic heritage we don't want to lose, given the uncertainty of the future...ok, stepping down off the soap box...

So my first group of 12 chicks arrived from Ideal Hatchery out of Texas, all pullets, with their Australorp friends. Of the twelve I'll pick the best hens to keep and then gradually add to my flock while selecting for egg productions. Washington County Fair, poultry division, here I come! (With the size and quantity of our hawks, I shouldn't speak too soon!)

But first, we had to make a bigger home for these gals because at a month old, they outgrew their 4 x 8' playpen. We took one bay of the chicken shed and closed it in and set it up as their new playROOM. (Our place came with three open sheds in the three little pastures because the former owner raised emus)

We were taking a break from building the door and front of the shed when I snapped this pic. We'd locked the other chickens out so they wouldn't get in the way or get too curious about the babies (which might not be safe for 1 month old chicks who are strangers to my old flock...). I love how the old girls are waiting outside the gate like, hey, why are we out here!?

Buckeye Update

It didn't take too long to build a sturdy door and front with hardware cloth. Can't use chicken wire because raccoons are notorious for reaching through and pulling out chickens piece by piece! Yikes. So we have 1/2 inch mesh heavy duty hardware cloth on the front. We also wrapped the back of the shed in it. The old boards are falling apart and until I can replace them, we did a wire overwrap... Here's our new door with babies happily in their spacious playroom:

Buckeye Update

They love it! Finally, if you'd like to see these cute one-month olds romp in their new digs on a one minute video snippet, press the "play" arrow below:

For you folks outside the city limits, check out the ALBC's list of rare heritage livestock in need of conservation. You may find your next barnyard friends and be doing a good thing too.

Thanks for stopping by Larrapin.


beckie said...

It has been a long time since I have heard baby chicks-how delightful! Your energy and dedication to sustainable living is admirable. I also like the fact that you chose a breed developed by a woman and in need of protecting. I wish you good luck with your Buckeyes-may they grow and produce and multiply!

A Gardener At Larrapin said...

Thanks for stopping by Beckie! And thank you for your kind words. I realize our lifestyle is still far from sustainable, but we're making joyful progress every day. Incorporating critters (wild and barnyard types) into the landscape and garden is one of the more delightful things about the progress. Thanks so much for your visit and your generous words.

Onedia Hayes Sylvest said...

Thanks for finding me so I could find you. I keep searching for regional sites and then I too discover one like yours.

ditto on reading yours

Mother Nature said...

I was recently thinking of this word, larrapin, as a word my mother used to mean especially delicious. Thanks for the memory.

A Gardener At Larrapin said...

Onedia, Thanks for visiting Larrapin! I've added you to my regional garden blog list.I'll be keeping up with your blog to see how your weather compares! :-) Thanks again - so glad to find another Arkie!

A Gardener At Larrapin said...

Mother Nature, My Arkie Father-in-law introduced me to the word and I loved it. Leave it to Southerners to make up the perfect word! (And for other Southerners like me to truly enjoy them!)

So glad you stopped by Larrapin Garden!

Bonnie said...

So cute. It would be fun to have chicks roaming around here, although I'd be afraid my 1 year old would not be gentle enough for them.

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