Tag Archives: Black Star

How to Know Before They Crow

The spring chickens turn 12 weeks old today! Seems like just yesterday we were watching them hatch.

They’re old enough now that we can tell who’s going to be staying with us long-term. Mostly.

“Chick sexing,” or gender identification in chickens, can be pretty tricky. Last time we ended up with 2/2 boys, and because I’m an optimist, for months tried to explain away obvious rooster traits as “early-blooming hens.” Nope. Not this time.

With 23 young chickens all the same age, it’s been a lot easier to tell the girls and boys apart with this hatch. But we won’t know for certain until they crow or lay an egg (probably at least another 6 weeks).

chicken_sexing_11_weeks_EE_SS

Most of our chicks are barnyard mutts and Easter Eggers (also technically mutts), which can be especially difficult to sex because they have a lot of variation in appearance. Luckily, it looks like we got males AND females from most of our known crosses, so I have a decent basis for comparison this time.

I’m no expert, as you may have gathered from the first few sentences, but I have done a fair amount of research (and taken a lot of pictures.) So without further ado, here’s all I know about sexing chickens:

Read More

Hatching Something New

I’ve raised chicks twice before: The 14 day-old chicks that my sister and I got from a feed store three years ago, and the three chicks that our broody hen hatched last September. And in less than a month, my third batch will be here.

warming_the_incubator

Read More

The Eggs Have Arrived

I spent way too much time today on the road, gathering some extra eggs to fill up our incubator. And of course, I ended up with just a few too many, but that will give me room to choose the best of the bunch.

I got 11 eggs from my friend Claudia, who adopted our extra rooster a while back. He is an Easter Egger (EE), which is not really a breed — just a mutt chicken that carries the blue egg gene. EEs are often sold from hatcheries and feed stores as “Araucanas” or “Ameraucanas” but my (limited) understanding is that 99% of the time, they are neither. Most of them are mutts, and any bird that lays a green egg falls into this category (true Araucanas and Ameraucanas lay blue eggs, along with a whole host of other very specific traits.)

mack_and_friends

Mislabeling aside, Easter Eggers are some of my favorite chickens — they come in all different colors, they’re productive layers, and mine have been some of the prettiest (and friendliest) hens in the flock. Not to mention their lovely mint-green eggs.

Read More

An unlikely mother

KP

Kung Pao went broody in August — meaning she decided to stop laying eggs, and start hatching them instead. In chickens broodiness is a hormonal change, and some breeds are genetically predisposed to it while others (egg-factory hybrids like KP) virtually never go broody. Kung Pao is a hybrid known as a Black Star (or Black Sex-link, because males and females hatch out in different colors.) She’s probably a cross between a Barred Rock hen and a Rhode Island Red rooster, and she’s most definitely bred for egg production.

So we never expected KP to go broody. But exactly two months after a fox decimated most of her friends, she decided it was time to replenish the flock. She had all the classic symptoms — refusing to budge from the nest even at night, picking out all her chest feathers, and growling when I tried to move her. Just goes to show we can only control nature so much.

Read More