From the dirt to our plate; the trials and realities of first-time farm ownership

Chicks:  Batch #1 & #2 Update

As we creep closer to butcher time I am constantly watching over my growing chicks.  For the most part, I can tell which birds are sexing male and which are female.  There are still a few questionable genders on some of them and I’d love to hear your thoughts!  I do not want to make the mistake of butchering a hen.

Batch #1 has been a joy to watch.  My husband and I poke fun at Bert & Ernie the two brown, black and white feathered cockerels.  They seem to be a bit dim but that it what makes them fun to watch.  From time to time we catch them chasing after sparrows or butterflies, it’s hilarious.  

Tiny, a black and white hen (far left) is still fairly skittish while Sterling, a silver grey colored hen is very friendly and inquisitive.  Great White, another cockerel is nice enough and is showing much growth in his yellow legs…just like his Barred Rock daddy.  


The only bird I question the sex on is Uno (black feathers in center), my first hatchling.  This bird’s body size is somewhere between the confirmed hens and the cockerels.  With the other birds in Batch #1 the comb color and size of the bird made it easy to determine if they were male or female.  Uno on the other hand has no raised comb of any sort.  The area where the comb should be is fairly black making comb color hard to descern (feet are black).  Upon first glance, I suspect female but taking body size into account I’m not 100% certain.  What are your thoughts?


Batch # 2 is three weeks behind the teenage group shown above.  In this bunch, many of the birds are friendly enough and the sex is blatantly obvious in a few of them.  Brownie and Henny Penny are clear as day male and female respectively.  Their combs, stature and body size are simple to decipher.


I believe my one full-blooded Barred Rock is most certainly a female.  Her comb does not carry the red coloring of being a cockerel at this stage of development.


This little guy below is so obviously a cockerel.  Not much can be said about him, he is very skittish, not really a looker and it took a while for his feathers to fill in.  He looks much like our meat bird only much smaller.


When comparing these 3 white chicks in Batch #2 you can easily see the comb and body size differences.  The confirmed cockerel is on the far left while Henny Penny and Speck, another possible pullet, are facing each other.


And then there is Spot, another one I am uncertain of at this stage.  If it were someone else’s bird I might be likely to say the bird is a pullet but again the body size is slightly larger than Henny Penny who is more petite.  


This beautiful black bird I keep hoping is a female.  I’m very uncertain.  The comb is small, yellowish pink, but the larger body size at this stage leaves me guessing.  I adore this little bird and would love to keep this friendly, iridescent beauty in my flock.  When it was a couple days old it would cheep and cheep until I would pick it up and let it rest in a towel on my chest to sleep.  


Finally, here’s our meat bird.  The sex doesn’t matter much on this one as it is destined for butcher.  I’ve dubbed the bird Sunday, as in Sunday dinner.  


In summary, I’m taking stock and watching closely all of my other birds.  Adults, teenagers and ducks will have to be thinned out at butcher time.  Those not laying consistently, laying thin shelled eggs as the norm, birds of no genetic use and freeloaders must go into the freezer.  It’s the reality of farm life.

In addition to my incubator hatched hens, I will have a handful of new pullets from the feed store soon.  Silver Laced Wyandottes and the blue egg laying Auracanas will be a great addition to my egg laying flock.  By fall I hope to keep my laying hens w/ rooster to about 20 birds.  

#lifeon25acres

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