Posts Tagged ‘cornish x rocks’

Again With The Chickens In My Kitchen

Friday morning at 8am I got a phone call.

chick1.jpg

“Hello.”

“This is Chris. I have a box over here for you, Angie.”

“I’m coming right now.”

Hang up the phone.

Throw off my pj’s and dig for my shorts and shirt. (Still hot here. WTH?)

I am out of the door and down the driveway as fast as my feet will take me. Looking both ways I cross at the corner and hurry over to the tiny clapboard building that was once a little store. Two minutes later I am following the same path back to my house and straight into my kitchen.

It is a very noisy box and it moves around and shakes. I grab the scissors and cut the bands on the box. Carefully raising the lid to assess the contents I peak inside.

Instantly all attention is on me. The noise gets much louder. One by one I take them each out of the shipping box and dip their beaks into water with a vitamin added to give them a good boost.

chick2.jpg

They can live 72 hours off the last of the yolk they absorb just before hatching (some even hatch and spend a day or so with the yolk sac on the outside of their body and it slowly absorbs and closes off much like a belly button).

So each chick gets its beak dipped into nutrient rich water so that they instantly learn to drink. This is the first drink they have had in their young one day and a half old life. It takes about 5 minutes or less and each on is then running around and drinking freely by themselves. I ordered 25 and the hatchery sent me 27. They are good like that. The hatcheries always add a couple extra just to be sure you have a full order. Often times in the cooler months they add more to accomodate more warmth for the benefit of the chicks. Last spring when I ordered I was sent 7 extra – always roosters - for extra warmth for the chicks. Roosters are considered expendable to a certain extent in the hatchery and egg business. You don’t need a rooster for eggs. You need a rooster to make chicks.

They are fluffy, healthy and very active. Their eyes are bright. They peep very loudly. The climb right over the top of one another with little reguard to get to where they want to go. They hundle together when cold for warmth.

I gave them time to have a good long drink and to stretch their legs while I set up an old pack and play I picked up at the junk shop. I lined it with a nice soft bedding of pine shavings (not cedar bedding, the oils from cedar are poison to chickens).

I then put down one layer of paper towels over the shavings. Chicks have to learn to walk and carry themselves so that the materials used should not be slippery. Newspaper is too slick and the shaving while needed can cause some problems with weaker chicks. The effect is called spraddle leg.

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I have never had this happen to me. I just put down the paper towels so that I can better gage how much they are pooping  the first day. Chicks can very easily eat bits of shaving and block themselves up – it’s a pasty butt and can be very serious. So I watch the pooping and check their butts for the first few days. Fun huh? LOL

In general healthy chicks don’t give you any problems. There are at times the occassional less than healthy chick, while some find it cruel, the humane thing to do is to end it quickly and be done instead of letting a sickly chick suffer and muddle on until nature ends it for you. There are illnesses that just cannot be fixed. There are defects in their physical development that cannot be fixed. Sickly or injured or chicks with birth defects quickly become a target of the healthy bunch. It is natures own way. Natural selection. Survival of the fittest. Raising livestock comes with its own set of rules that pet lovers often can’t understand. You do no favors when a chicken is left to the demise of the flock. Chickens are like raptors. They will pick and peck and tear until there is nothing left but a bloody, poorly feathered carcass. And, yes, if left to their own devises chicken will eat another chicken. Chickens are meat eaters. Any kind of meat. Even each other. That is why tending your flock and making sure theyhave plenty to eat and drink and lots of space to run around in is very important.

OK – moving on before you all get depressed -

Here is a brief clip of the sites and sounds of new chicks.

 


 

 

These chicks came from McMurray hatchery. They are jumbo cornish x rock (reads as cornish cross rocks) which is a cross bred chicken of a white cornish rooster and a white plymouth rock hen. They have been bred to produce a bigger breasted and more meat to bone ratio bird. They are powerhouse eaters and will lieterally eat themselves to death if given the opportunity. They do not recieve free choice feed 24/7. They are fed as much as they can eat during the day but the food is taken away at night. They do have plenty of water and can drink all they want 24 hours a day.

These birds will grow quickly. Far quicker than anything in my barn. In 8 – 10 weeks these chicks will be 4 – 6 lbs full size birds ready for processing and to be put int he freezer. Rememer we live on a small working farm. Livestock is a food source not pets. These chicks will not live much past 3 or 4 months at the best. Their grow so very fast to produce the best possible food that their legs are generally weak and their hearts cannot support them and give out. They are very easily stressed and will have a heart attack and pass away quickly. That is not to say that there are not chicks that have survived will past the 3 or 4 month stage. It is just not common.

These chickens have a purpose. While they are here they will have a very good life. They will be well fed and well cared for. They will have sunshine and fresh air and will walk in the grass. They will know what it is like know sunrise and sunset. They will live out a very natural life.

For those who are offended by this and prefer chicken from the grocery commonly labled purdue or tyson – those animals lived a pitiful existance and often where abused before making it to your table. Most Americans are too far removed form their food sources that they have lost respect for the animal that gave its life for their dinner.

These chickens will exceed the USDA term labled as ‘organic’ or ‘free range’. I cannot lable and sell my chickens using those names because I am not certified by the USDA but you should know that those words do not mean all they they imply.

Now don’t get all riled up with me, this is just a very general explanation. The details are a bit more complicated even the different agencies within the  the Dept of Agriculture (USDA) can’t get their act together and decide amongst themselves all of the specifics.

Commercial ‘organic’ means generally that the chickens were raised with only ‘organic’ labled feed and had not been injected with antibiotics nor eaten medicated feeds. The feed to be organic had to come from fields not sprayed with chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Small farm ‘organic’ means the chickens where raised in a barn built with out any pressure treated wood, the feed is not just a commercial feed but supplemented with fresh yogurt, grains, meal worms, bugs, vegetables, etc. created without the use of pesticides. The chickens also are not exposed to antibiotics or other drugs. They come and go in their house and run (a combination of which is called the ‘coop’).

 Commercial ‘free-range’ means the chickens were not in cages. They could move around freely at will and come and go as they desired. It doesn’t mean they ever see the light of day. They spend their short life span inside a warehouse where the lights, water and feeding is all automated and they never set foot outside under the morning sun. Cage-free doesn’t mean all that the grocery store lable implies either. They don’t go to roost at sunset. Generally their life is in a building with humans controlling the elements. They have most likely never seen a bug much less eaten natural proteins outside of those given by the commercial feeders. Remember chickens are meat eaters. Remains are processed into feed and fed right back to the chickens.

Small farm ‘free- range’ means the chickens had access to the outdoors. They were pasture fed. The foraged daily for grass and bugs and breathed in the sunshine and fresh air. They come and go as they please. They roost and crow and scratch and peck.  The fields where they are raised have not been processed with fertilizer and other chemicals.

 So you see the government has taken words which mean one thing to the consumer and used them to lable food stocks that really do not meat meet the standards of those words.

My chickens exceed the USDA standard. They wouldn’t qualify for the USDA lable ‘organic’ and ‘free-range’. I don’t need a lable or to pay the government outrageous amount of money for the lable. Chickens that are pasture fed and eat bugs are not considered organic but umm, that’s what chickens do by natural – naturally, as nature intended. See a problem here?

Just to give you a better idea of the difference of egg quality- store bought eggs, even those labled organic are usually sunshine yellow or yellowish-orange. Small farm chickens that have a wide variety diet, that eat bugs and grass have deep dark orange yolks that store bought ‘organic’ eggs can’t even begin to compare to. Do you know that chickens can be fed certain feeds to make the yolks appear more orange – like food coloring instead of the yolks being naturally more protein filled and orange?

So, all of this rambling to say – don’t fret over my little chicks. They have a far better life here with me than they ever would have living over at the tyson and purdue farms. I feed them. I hold them. I see to their every need. I respect the purpose their life has and do not take it for granted for one instant.

Tomorrow I want to show you my most favorite roosters. Stay tuned for Rooster 101 on Home Grown TV!

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