Friday, February 3, 2006

Chickens ordered!

My daughters finally decided what chickens they want for the fair this year. This will also become our laying flock and our meat chickens for the year. My 12-year-old daughter chose black austrolorps and Rhode Island reds. Both are supposed to be excellent layers of brown eggs. My 18-year-old daughter chose golden laced wyandottes and buff brahmas. We had silver-laced wyandottes our first year, and there are quite a few still running around the farm. The wyandottes originated in Wisconsin, and we were happy to have several become broody and hatch clutches of eggs a few years ago. This will also be our second time with brahamas, although last time we had the "light" brahmas, which are white and black, rather than gold and black. They are a big, beautiful chicken! We are getting 25 of each breed, straight run, which means they won't be sexed, so we'll probably get 50/50 males and females. This will give us 50 new laying hens and 50 roosters for the table, minus the most handsome rooster of each breed, which will be going to the fair. So, we placed our order today, and the chicks will be hatching on Wednesday, Feb. 15. They should arrive at our post office bright and early Friday morning the 17th.

To see what these chickens look like, you can visit the hatchery's Web site: and click on the catalog link, then "brown egg layers." This reminds me ... as we were doing research on breeds today, we came upon a commercial egg farm Web site that had an FAQ page. In response to the question, "what's the difference between a white egg and a brown egg?" they responded that white eggs are laid by white chickens and brown eggs are laid by brown chickens!!! I was screaming at the computer! So, THIS is where such misinformation comes from! I have never been able to understand the people who would argue with me forever, telling me exactly the same thing. They will persist, even when I tell them that I have white chickens who lay brown eggs! It is not the color of the chicken, but the breed that determines the egg color. I wonder how these people would explain where blue eggs come from ... and there are chickens that lay blue eggs, although they don't have blue feathers. After perusing their Web site, it became sadly obvious to me where their misinformation came from: their flock of white egg layers were white leghorns, and their brown eggs came from their flock of production reds, which are a cross of a Rhode Island red and a New Hampshire red. The white leghorns are the commercial egg-laying chicken because they have the best feed to egg laying ratio of any breed. Leghorns come in a variety of colors though -- and they all lay white eggs. It's sad to see such ignorance in people who are supposed to be professionals. But I suppose this is just one of the many consequences of the factory farming concept. When you use a single breed as the only breed for something, you lose a lot ... I've always complained about the genetic diversity that is being lost, but people are also losing knowledge, as well as their agricultural heritage.

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