Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Chickens Are Coming!

I love January.  It's when I get all my gardening and other fun magazines.  I page through them fantasizing about all the things I would like to do or grow in the next year. This week I got my Murray McMurray Hatchery Magazine for 2011.  This is in my opinion the finest Chicken Hatchery in the United States. 

The first year we raised chickens I ordered 50 chicks from them and raised the most beautiful, healthy birds we have ever done.  Not one chick died and we won all blue ribbons and best of show at fair that year!

This last year I bought my chicks from a feed store that used a local hatchery.  They are ok, but many of the chicks turned out to be a mislabeled variety called The Red Star and not the Rhode Island Reds like we wanted.  Red stars are excellent layers but just not very pretty to look at.

So even though we don't have to we are going to order 25 chicks from the hatchery so we can get what we really want.  We always get the heritage (meaning old varieties) multipurpose birds.  Not only are they generally more attractive than the commercial layer, but they also dress out nice and plump when they stop laying. 

So far the list includes:

Black Australorps: lovely big coal black birds that are unique because they also have black eyes.  Excellent layers of big brown eggs and will lay deep into winter.  White skinned which I prefer.

Buff Orpingtons:  Golden big birds that are excellent layers and gentle.  Very pretty and white skinned.

Rhode Island Reds:  I'm not fond of red chickens because when they first feather out the other chicks tend to pick them.  However my son loves them for some reason and you can stop picking by using red lights in the brooder.  They are also one of the best layers of big brown eggs.

Barred Rocks:  Excellent layers and setters (if only we could have roosters!) and they lay well. Very pretty with the black and white barring.  Developed in the united states these are a true American chicken.

Eldest daughter and Princess in Waiting have yet to pick what they want so I can expect more varieties than these.  I wish we could do ducks just because they are so fun but I think we would be pushing the city a bit far.  Right now I am getting 7 eggs a day from my 9 chickens.  Pretty good with it being the dead of winter and unseasonably cold this year.


  1. I love McMurray's!!! What a great Rooster photo on this cover!!! Like your good self I also look through my hatchery and seed magazines with delight. It perks up my winter days here in MA. I agree with the breeds you list and I have all but one of them (Black Australorp). I plan to get a few when I am ready to raise new chicklets. 8-) I am also looking forward to getting more Buff Orpingtons. I cannot say enough nice things about this breed. We originally bought one of each of whatever the local feed store had just to get started and the two best ones are the Barred Rock and the Buff Orpington. I also have a Golden Laced Wyandotte (beautiful but doesn't take the cold well) and a couple of Auracanas for the blue/green eggs. My chickens are egg layers and pets, in that order. I have never eaten one of my chickens.... well, not yet anyway. I plan to if ever we get hungry and I have begun learning how to kill and dress out a chicken for when the time comes. Until then, my hens Samantha, Riley, Lacey, Penny, Petu, Big Red, Little Red, Chipper & Holly Berry will continue to be spoiled rotten.
    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  2. Our city allows up to 12 birds but I really don't have room for more than 6 so I have to buy mine at the feed store. I have had Ameracauns, an Rhode Island Red, a Barred Plymouth Rock,and some Delawares. I found all of them to be decent layers but the Delawares have been evil little biters. I can't reach into get the waterer without that Delaware going for me. I thought the Ameracaunas(easter eggers) to be the gentlest followed by my BPR. I am needing to replace some lost birds so I may try one of those Buff Orppingtons. They look nice and I keep hearing wonderful things about them. I do recommend the Ameracaunas thought. They have been great.


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