I am raising chickens for a few people and was surprised one day while counting each breed to make sure they were all there that one of the combs was looking incredibly funny. We have Lakenvelters, Turkens, White Cochins, Black Minorcas, White Rocks, and Red Caps. So, the white cochins belong to my next door neighbor and will move as soon as their coop is up. The Red Caps belong to my dear friend Heather and will move as soon as THEIR coop is up. We are selling some of the rest. I had a hard time last spring getting them raised so I thought there would be attrition, but so far we have had none other than the hatchery we used mailing them on the weekend. Not cool. Not cool at all.
The first thing I noticed while they were still in the house was that the Red Caps are really loud as baby chicks. REALLY LOUD. Fortunately, baby chicks are too cute to be annoying and Red Cap chicks have a pattern on them that is even cuter than most to me. They are also more wild than the rest. Turkens are the hippy chicks of the bunch. Very laid back. While I’m transplanting, any worms I find in the soil mix I take over and give to the chicks. The Turkens know what I’m doing, but they won’t fight for it. The White Rocks see me coming and are the first to the drop zone. They seem to be the most clever of the bunch. The Cochins are in as soon as they can but the Rocks are twice their size. They are a little more cautious so they don’t get trampled.
Every time I feed them I try to check the ones that already belong to other people for health issues and general appearance. I don’t want to hand off any pecked chickens or deformed chickens either. I live in fear of egg binding, but they are a little young yet to worry about that. One of the Red Caps had a wider comb than the rest and I started to get worried. I was thinking to myself, I have no idea what these chickens are supposed to look like, is that CANCER????? The things I think of crack me up, so I came inside and actually looked them up for the first time and lo, and behold, they are a rose comb breed! They are apparently wonderful foragers, but not great for confinement. Hopefully, no one reading this is keeping chickens in a little two foot square cage anyway. I read somewhere that their meat stays more tender than other breeds as they age so they make a better table bird than most after retired from laying. They certainly are spirited.
When Heather first ordered them, I thought, “Why would you want a chicken named after a murderous sprite?” I didn’t tell her, because my nerd knowledge of such things sometimes embarrasses me. Seeing the rose comb and it’s similarity to a gnome hat though makes it make more sense in my brain. Probably just a visual thing and not really because they are murderous chickens. Also, I have no idea why those chickens were named that, may have nothing to do with fairies what so ever.
Here she is with her beautifully forming comb. Right behind her is one of my new turkens and behind them are the lankenvelters. Sorry about the focus, I’m using my cell this week to take pictures.
My brother has converted me to nipple watering the chickens. That is what you see with the PVC pipe in the picture. On top of the chicken tractor, there is a five gallon bucket that feeds into the pipes. Very easy to maintain and there is always clean water for the chickens. The chickens like to sit on them and swing. We have them wired up and raise them higher as the chickens grow. We did not get the nipples from the link above. My brother bought them in bulk and handed me two tubes with the nipples in them. He’s an awfully awesome sibling to have. He also writes a very interesting blog on sustainable farming, check it out. He comes up with different solutions and different ideas for making the most of his 20 acres. He also works full time and manages to keep it all going.
The red one is another of my turkens. I worked an information booth yesterday at an Earth Day event in Kirkwood, MO for the Sustainable Backyard Tour I help organize. We shared a booth with Living Green and a chicken keeper from Kirkwood who unfortunately I don’t have contact information for. I will correct that. He had his chicken “Mizzou” on the table. She is an Easter Egger chicken and had a green egg there in the cage for people to see. What a hit with the kids! Back behind us he had a collection of other breeds for people to see. One Buff Orpington named “Buffy” figured out early in the day how to escape the enclosure and spent the day being held by either Bill, her owner, or myself. I should have brought some of my hideous little guys for people to see. Really, I think Turkens are the best for city living. But I’m not one to judge a chicken on looks I guess. It was a fantastic day. I’m so grateful to have been a part of that and meet such wonderful people. It’s a really nice little Farmer’s Market out there and next to the train station so it’s a great place to go if you have kids.