Yesterday we picked up some beautiful new chickens. We brought home a young breeding trio of Sussex. These three are about 4 months old, so they still have a lot of growing and developing to do. Sussex are very large birds when fully grown and are known as the heritage meat breed, or some even describe them as 'the turkey of the chicken pen'. This description is talking purely of their meat yield of course and not their temperament. If you've ever owned turkeys you'll know how annoying they can be, and even how nasty they can be to each other. Sussex chickens, however, are known for the docility and gentle nature. Even after only a day I've fallen in love with these three.
We've named the young cockerel Mussels, and his pullets Oyster and Pearl. Strange, I know, but over the years we've named a lot of chickens, and most of our good names got used up when we hatched about 70 chicks in a friend's incubator once. All 70 were named, and yes we could tell them all apart from each other. We don't have that many chickens now of course, some of those were sold and others went in the pot, and besides that that was several years ago. All that remains of that hatching now is our Australorps and Silkies.
That's the only time we've ever used an incubator and it was when we were first starting out and had purchased fertile eggs from another breeder. We now hatch all of our chickens under broody hens, as we've found the chicks to be healthier and actually easier to raise that way.
The reason we purchased them is because we are in need of a new laying line, and also wanted a good table bird. Sussex fit the bill, and their beautiful feathers and personalities made them even more appealing. I believe in preserving purebred heritage chickens and would rather keep these beautiful breeds alive than take the other road of purchasing commercial layers from the feed store every two years. I guess you sort of have to be a chicken nerd to not only keep these birds but breed them and source different bloodlines so that you can not only keep the breed alive but keep it healthy and productive.
In my ideal chicken yard I would keep a line of light barred Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, Light Sussex and of course our Silkies. I really hope this dream will come true one day.
How has your weekend been? We had the first proper storm of the season last night, complete with very loud thunder and a terrific lighting show. We received 34mls of rain, the perfect amount in my view as the ground soaked it all up and there was no run off. Hopefully this storm will be closely followed by many more. As a result it's very hot today, but I don't mind really.
Summer is here.
*A pullet is a young hen who hasn't started laying or is under 12 months of age, and cockerel is a young rooster under 12 months of age. Broody is the term used for when a hen stops laying eggs and stays on her nest for three weeks in order to hatch chicks.