by Texas Homesteader~
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Back in April we bought baby chicks – three Hybrid Ideal 236 chicks for their larger egg-laying capabilities and three Black Minorca chicks, a larger dual-purpose breed.
They were cute fuzzy things and so much fun to watch. As they grew we moved them to an enclosed *portable coop in the garage. Then we moved the coop out to the yard as it warmed up and they grew their feathers.
We used that coop as a mobile chicken tractor moving them to a different area each day for fresh grass. When they got a little older we moved them to the coop of our 1880’s barn and locked them in for a couple of weeks to help them realize this was their new home.
Since then we’ve let them out to free range every morning and we lock them securely back in the coop each night when they go in to roost.
One morning when we opened the coop to let them out we were saddened to see something had slipped into the coop overnight and taken one of our Black Minorcas. Based on the evidence we assume it was a feral cat.
We strengthened our efforts to fortify the coop while still allowing proper air flow and we haven’t had a problem since.
I’ve noticed since our chickens began their pasture patrol each day we have very few grasshoppers or flies in the barn pasture or pens and the main runway of our barn is raked smooth by them every day as they scratch around.
I get so much joy from watching our little organic bug control employees out on patrol! 😉
Although we were virtually certain we had one rooster and one hen from the two remaining Black Minorcas, both appear to be roosters. One has been crowing for several weeks but the other one, much larger than the first, is just now beginning to crow as well (albeit not very well)
I read that sometimes a female can do some sad croaky crowing – does anyone know if this is true?
The rooster’s tail feathers have always grown upward, drooping only slightly as he grew. What we first thought was the larger female’s tail feathers were very different and grew straight back, although now they’re growing long enough to droop downward.
I also find it interesting that the cheek patch on the rooster is white, and the cheek patch on the one we assumed was a hen is red. Hummm….
The Ideal 236 chickens are growing well, but as expected they’re not as large as the Black Minorcas. We bought one of the Ideal 236 chicks as a tagged female but the other two Ideals were straight-run chicks so we still don’t know whether those two are male or female. None of them has begun to crow yet so we’re hopeful they’re all three hens.
I’m expecting our hens to start laying eggs in a couple of weeks as I’m reading that they begin laying at around 17 weeks. In preparation we’ve fluffed hay in the nesting boxes and added a few white golf balls in various boxes – I’ve read that entices them into the boxes when it’s time to lay. Again, I’m a greenhorn so it may very well only entice them to play 18 holes of golf! LOL
So far other than our one overnight marauder, raising these chickens has been lots of fun.
- How To Teach Free-Range Chickens To Come HOME
- Keeping Chickens Safe From Predators: Automatic Coop Door
- Breaking The Broody Hen
- What Color Eggs Will My Chickens Lay?
- MYO Low-Waste Chicken Feeder
- Repurposed Coffee Can Chicken Feeder
- Keeping Wild Birds Away From Your Chicken Feeder
- Nutritional Difference Of Free-Range Eggs
- How To Protect Seedlings From Free-Range Hens
- Keeping Our Chickens Mite Free
- How To Get Free Chicken Food
All Posts About Chickens
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The minorca have white earlobes, the other one with the red earlobes appears as an australorp. The australorp is a more docile chicken and the minorca is a flighty breed that does not particularly care for human touch unless handled from a chick. I bought australorp chicks and they are definitely minorcas, lay nice white eggs though. I can reach down and pickup my marans, RIR’s and wyandottes but not the minorcas. They also like to fly. Hope this helps.
That’s good to know Jan, thanks for the info. ~TxH~
Yep, hens will crow. Not very well, but they’ll give it their all. Had a Blue Splash Marans hen that definitely laid those gorgeous deep dark chocolaty brown eggs and she took up crowing. Sadly, I also lost her when a raccoon came to visit and helped himself to 4 of my hens before we could live-trap him and haul him to the back pasture.
You can tell it’s a hen or a juvenile rooster because she’ll (he’ll) stretch out like it’s gonna let rip a real rooster cock a doodle doo, but what comes out is sorta ERR ERR ERR!
Oh that’s so good to know, and yes he/she acts like that – stretching the neck out like he/she’s gonna belt it out and either nothing at all or a very croaky crow. Here’s hoping it really is a hen… Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom to this greenhorn! ~TxH~
Your teenager chickens look good! I have a similar age group, we’ve been taking on bets on when we’ll see the first egg.
Kirsten, I’ll be SO excited when we get our first egg – can’t wait! ~TxH~
I can affirm that hens do sometimes crow. Several years ago our neighbors chicken run blew down (PVC pipe and plastic sheeting) and the chickens got loose. Most disappeared, but one came for a time to live in my front bushes. She laid eggs so I am absolutely positive she was a hen. And she crowed. Very confusing, but it is my understanding that this is not that uncommon, and that a dominant hen will also do this sometimes when there is no rooster in the flock.
Thanks so much Sue for weighing in. We shouldn’t have to wait much longer for these girls to start laying so hopefully we’ll find out for sure then. I’m glad to hear of personal experience from someone who actually experienced a hen crowing. ~TxH~