Chick Update: It’s About Time!

The chicks are 5 1/2 weeks old now, all fourteen of ’em. They are in the ugly kind of stage, in which they are still growing in their head and neck feathers, so look rather gangly. And yet, there are all sorts of beautiful feather colours coming through on their bodies. The Sookie babies are particularly interesting. While they all started off with brownish fluff, they are all now different colours. Because they’re crossbreds their lacing is highly irregular, but loosely, one is gold with blue lacing, one is gold with black lacing and one is silver with black lacing. All the half-Wyandottes have the Wyandotte rose comb. Of the Lorelai babies, one is blue (so far) and the other three are a very similar-looking black with little bits of gold on the edges of some of their wing feathers. That leaves the purebred Australorps, which are black (3), blue (2) and splash (1).


Now we get to the question of who is a girl and who is a boy? Aka, the game of Hen or Roo? Following along with my wing and tail feather theory, which is easiest to tell when they’re around 10 days old, I think I have an even split: seven girls and seven boys. The funny thing is, all the purebred Australorps appear to be girls, all the Lorelai babies appear to be boys and only one of the Sookie babies appears to be a girl, meaning two of them are boys. So much for selling some pretty crossbreds! However, I’m not entirely sure about two of the blackish Lorelai chicks. Lorelai was slow to feather up as a pullet and I thought she was a boy for a while, so I’m keeping that in mind. If my initial guesses hold true, I will likely keep all the girls since my numbers are so skint thanks to The Egg-eating Scandal. This also means I STILL won’t have a purebred Australorp roo. However, in the long run this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I need a roo unrelated to the hens for good genetics. Five of the Australorp ‘girls’ are from the same source and the other one is Orphan Annie, who is doing very well after a touch-and-go start to life. I may just have to wait until I can hatch another lot of eggs from a different source before I can get my roo.

The Lorelai-Mr Bingley chicks

The Sookie-Mr Bingley chicks

The Australorp source #1 (posted) chick

The Australorp source #2 chicks

Now, we get to the little cockerels. And the fact that Mr Bingley was farewelled this week. I already needed new genetics, and Mr Bingley’s involvement, to whatever extent, in The Egg-eating Scandal sealed his fate. I’ve been trying not to think about it too much, as it was very hard to have Mr Bingley walk the green mile. He was a good boy, at least until all that egg-eating business. He never attacked me, The Little Fulla or anyone else. He ate from my hand. He didn’t thrash around once he was in my arms. He looked after his ladies and was very gentle and helpful with all the chicks. He was very fertile and gave me some lovely hens. He restored my faith in roosters. He was beautiful.

The first morning without Mr Bingley, I was feeling weird because there was no crowing. Then, as I got the chickens’ food ready before I let them out, I heard a little crow. The uninitiated wouldn’t even recognise this squeaky, gurgly noise as a crow, but there it was again. One of the little cockerels, at a mere five weeks old, was trying to be the man of the flock. I thought the nutheaded Mr Collins was very young when he started crowing at seven weeks of age, but five weeks really is a record! Of course, the crowing stopped as soon as I opened the coop and I haven’t heard it since, so I don’t know who it was. My best guess is Silver, the silver laced-ish Sookie boy. He has always been one of the biggest chicks, with huge legs and the biggest comb and wattles. He seems very aware of things going on as well. My second guess would be the big, blackish Lorelai boy, who also has a  big comb and wattles.

I am enjoying watching how all the chicks are developing. I wasn’t going to handle the boys as much, since handling 14 chicks is a lot, but I am trying to handle them all equally since 1) I cannot be 100% sure if all the ‘boys’ are boys yet and 2) now that I haven’t got a rooster I might end up keeping one of them, even if it’s just for the short term. I don’t have to have a rooster, but I do like having one, and if one of the little boys wins me over I could very easily be swayed. It’s still early days, so time will tell what happens.

The lovely Lorelai has the higher ground over all the crazy youngsters.

Edit: I don’t know if anyone realised, but I initially only put up photos of 13 chicks. Oops! I temporarily forgot that there are four of those black Lorelai chicks with little bits of brown. They look quite similar, but I’ve got them all pinned down now. Well, for now…

12 thoughts on “Chick Update: It’s About Time!

  1. How are the young roos doing?

    Phillip and Sylvester are faring pretty well with Dots this winter. We’ve had some cold cold days, negative degree temps where I didn’t dare open the coop door for fear of freezing them to death, and the boys managed to not fight the whole time. I’m proud of them.

    Dots does chase both of them, but that’s tradition, I think.

    Phillip is older than Sylvester and still thinks he has the right to be the 2IC. But every day, Sylvester gets bigger (him being a Brahma) and by spring could surpass both Phillip and Dots in size.

    I suspect squabbles come Spring.

    I need to do a blog post, but I’ve been busy. I just started a new job. Life in 2018 is not the same as 2017.


  2. It will be so weird without Mr. B. I do know that odd silence in the coop feeling. I have always kept Dots but because he started life as one of 17 other roosters, we’ve always had a lot of crowing in our flock. So whenever we send the chosen ones to Freezer Camp, it gets quieter and that’s weird.

    5 1/2 weeks is early for crowing, but the little guy has no big rooster to intimidate him into silence!!

    Your Wyandotte is beautiful!

    How is Frodo doing?

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    1. Yeah, we’ve had a pretty quiet patch without Me Bingley around. Sometimes I forget that he’s not there anymore and miss his pretty face. The young boys are crowing more in the morning now but not much at other times of the day.

      Frodo is still around, moulting but doing it well, still laying. But I’m currently trying to figure out which hen seems to be an occasional egg eater… :/

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      1. Oh no!! Not another egg eater! *Pleasedon’tbeFrodo**Pleasedon’tbeFrodo*

        I still miss Pip. It helps that little Phillip behaves so much like Pip that I am reminded of him often, but I miss how gentle and brotherly Pip was with the chicks and how well he, Dots and Abby worked together to oversee the flock. I don’t think there will ever be another one quite like him in my flock.

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        1. The three hens are ok at the moment, thank goodness, but I am keeping a very close eye on them, a camera even! If anyone strays out of line there will be big trouble!

          I’m sure you will have another good roo come around. I know it’s hard, but try to focus on the silver lining of having new genetics. I’ve seen what keeping things too close in the family can do with all this egg-eating business. I’m sure there was some genetic weirdness going on. I miss Mr Bingley sometimes, but I’m looking forward to having a new roo or two developing. I just have to choose the back-up roo now. Decisions, decisions…

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  3. That is way too many chicks to keep track of! Too many mixes of breeds! Is the Wyandotte one of the old Early American breeds? It is available here only by mail order, and I do not know of anyone who gets any. There are so many strange breeds out there, but the old classics are rare. I wanted to get white leghorns but ended up with Rhode Island reds just in case we wanted to get a rooster to get more for meat.

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    1. Haha yes, there are a lot of ’em! The Wyandotte is indeed an old American breed: a dual-purpose heavy breed that comes in lots of pretty colours. Funny that it’s so rare there. It’s starting to become more common here now and breeders are developing more of the colours. They have very nice natures. Well, the hens anyway. What are the Rhode Island Reds like? I know of them but haven’t had any myself.

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      1. Rhode Island Reds are the common hen here because they are good for both eggs and meat. I always wanted to get White Leghorn hens because I think that they are so pretty, and because they make white eggs with good shells, like eggs sold in the supermarket. However, they are not so good for meat, and they are aggressive with other hens. When I lived in town, I had only two Araucana hens who were most definitely NOT for meat. They would not have been my favorite hens. They are small and funny looking without tails, and their small blue eggs were really weird. However, they were very quiet and bothered no one.

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        1. We have RIRs here, but they’re definitely not that common. Initially, I decided against having them because I’d heard that the roosters could be quite aggressive, but I guess it’s all in how you breed and select them. Leghorns are pretty. I have a particular fondness for the brown leghorns, especially after seeing them at the poultry show, but I decided to steer clear of them, for now anyway, because they are smaller than the heavy breeds I have, they have a reputation for being flighty and not very friendly and they would require more intense fencing. I don’t think much of the Araucanas either. I’d quite like to have some blue or green eggs, but I just don’t like the look of the chickens!

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