I decided to only keep one of the Australorp-Wyandotte crossbred hens, Rory or Paris, to make space for the purebreds. They are full sisters, daughters of the late Mr Bingley and the late silver laced Lorelai. They are the last of Mr Bingley’s offspring. They have both proved useful in going broody and raising chicks. They have both hatched and are in the process of raising chicks. This is Rory’s first time and Paris’ second. Sort of. The first time she hatched and raised chicks in tandem with Frodo. When Paris started getting a bit aggressive towards Frodo I removed her back into the flock and let Frodo carry on. I thought it was just that she didn’t want to share. I’m glad I let her have another turn by herself so I could see how she worked. Rory and Paris’ full brother, the big black mean cockerel was very tasty, so I’m keen to use their genes for the Dual Purpose Meat Bird Side Project. And now it is time decide who is the best one to keep, and what better way than a pro-con list?
- Good layer.
- Good fertility.
- Very dedicated to sitting on eggs.
- Very doting mother, looks after chicks well.
- Lovely personality, one of our friendliest chickens, can be picked up by The Little Fulla.
- Her own chicks are turning out nice and friendly.
- Broke some of the eggs that she was sitting on (although nestbox could be partly to blame).
- Very pecky when broody.
- Has to have enforced eat-drink-poop breaks when broody.
- Makes a huge mess in the food and water vessels in the coop from scratching furiously in the wood shavings.
- Sometimes rushes at me when I hold young chicks.
- Good layer.
- Bigger eggs than Rory.
- Good fertility.
- Very quiet broody when sitting on eggs, no pecking.
- Takes herself out for breaks when broody.
- Is bigger than Rory so better for meat bird breeding.
- Escaped out of the Corner Pen repeatedly, leaving her chicks alone.
- Can be bossy to other chickens.
- Extra bossy and hyped up when raising chicks – chasing and pulling feathers off others.
- Tried to attack me when I caught and handled the young chicks.
- Spends more time feeding herself than showing chicks where food is, often goes off by herself.
I have made my decision. I’d made it before writing the pro-con list. At the end of the day, the main focus of our chickens is having eggs to eat, and they are both good layers, and breeding purebred Australorps. In this respect, the main uses for Rory and Paris are laying well for us, being good broodies to raise Australorp chicks and getting along with other more valuable chickens in the flock.
Quite frankly I was appalled that Paris would leave her chicks alone repeatedly by flying out of the pen, leaving them vulnerable to attack by cats or other things. If I wasn’t around to sort her out or if it happened in the cooler months, things could go badly for the chicks. I have also been unimpressed with her antisocial behaviour towards the others while she’s raising chicks. It’s one thing to ward off other chickens from the babies but there’s no need to chase and pull feathers out of anyone who comes near you. I have never seen some of the chickens run so fast when she just comes within a meter of them. She isn’t normally that bad. It’s hard to believe how quiet and calm she is when sitting on eggs, it’s a beautiful thing, but it’s like all the pent up Paris-ness exploded out of her as soon as the chicks were out.
Rory, on the other hand, has been really lovely to her chicks and not feisty towards other chickens. I was a bit worried about them at the start, as she was so fixated on foraging and didn’t like me handling them, but as they got older she settled down and realised I was helping them with their food and wasn’t going to hurt them. Hopefully her crazy scratching around behaviour will tone down with subsequent hatches, and her tolerance of me handling young chicks. I am much more skeptical about Paris’ broody behaviour settling down, as it’s an extension of her usual personality, whereas Rory’s usual personality is friendly and calm. Rory’s chicks have turned out to be surprisingly friendly after all, and the nice nature of her own ones also cements the fact that if I want to use those genes for meat birds, Rory’s personality is the one I want. I don’t think we could handle Paris boys running around. It could be the big black Lorelai boy all over again. I respect Paris’ independent nature and her good laying ability, but she’s too much of a loose canon as a broody. I haven’t got space to keep them both, so…
Rory stays. Paris goes. When she has finished raising her chicks.