Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Tag: Barred Rock

Three Broody Hens in The Chicken House

Broody hens

Three of my hens have gone broody and are sitting on eggs. One of them even hatched out a chick.

For those of you who do know, broody means a hen has gone into a mothering mode and is sitting on some eggs. The eggs are called a clutch. Some chicken breeds go broody more than others, and some breeds rarely if ever go broody.

What gets me:

Two of the hens are Barred Rocks, which rarely go broody.

One is an Australorp, which has a reputation of going broody.

My first set of chickens was back around 1987 or 1988. My wife and I butchered out that first set of Barred Rocks when they were around two years old, and I did not get any more until 2012.

So in the seven years I have kept chickens, only two barred rocks have gone broody.

Buying Chicks in the Summer

Chicks inside chicken coop

For the most part buying chicks is a springtime activity. The local farm supply stores start getting their chicks in around early to mid February. Then there are the Easter colored chicks. Please do not buy colored chicks for Easter. You do not know what breeds you are getting, what sex, and the “new” quickly wears off.

You may think that after the feed stores stop selling chicks in the spring that there are no more on the market. That is simply not true. Some hatcheries sell chicks all year long. Where do you find these hatcheries? On the internet.

My wife and I had never bought chicks over the internet. We had always gone down to the local feed store, bought whatever chicks they had in stock, then went home. After buying our first set of chicks over the internet, I doubt we will ever buy from a feed store again. The process was easy and straight forward.

Some of the popular hatcheries:

  • Cackle hatchery
  • Ideal Poultry
  • Murray McMurray
  • Privett Hatchery

One Month Update on the New Chicks

Rhode Island Red about four - five weeks old

It is amazing how fast chicks grow. In 1 month they went from being totally helpless, to foraging for food. With every passing day the chicks move further away from the chicken house.

The more I watch chickens, the more I understand why the species has been so successful, and why humans have grown dependent on them. While cats, dogs, humans,,, are still dependent on their parents at one month old, chickens are pretty much independent. At 4 – 6 weeks old chicks need protection from full grown chickens and predators, but they do pretty well at foraging and looking for food.

The colors of each breed are becoming more defined. The Barred Rocks are getting their distinctive white specs, Rhode Island Reds are getting a deeper colors red, Australorps are still black as they should be and the Buff Orpingtons are turning a bright yellow gold color.

At around 4 weeks old the chicks have shed their soft birth feathers and have got their real feathers in. Some of the chicks have bald spots from shedding (molting) one set of feathers and getting another set in.

Best Four Chicken Breeds

Best Free Range Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds

Barred Rock chicken

Lets talk about some good free range dual purpose chickens. These are chickens that are good at free ranging, egg production or for butchering.

For the sake of discussion lets say that some kind of SHTF / TEOTWAWKI situation has happened. Whether its some kind of new SARS virus, wide spread civil unrest, nuclear war with China, hurricane, blizzard,,, something has happened to disrupt food shipments.

You go out to the chicken coop, survey the flock for dinner, what kind of chickens would you see? Did you focus on egg production, meat production, or both? Did you buy hens that go broody, or did you go with breeds that do not go broody? If you butcher a hen, will it be replaced?

What are some of the traits we are looking for? Lets start with heritage breeds that have a proven track record of over 100 years. The older the breed the better.

Lets look for chickens that weigh at least 6 – 7 pounds before processing, because do we really want to butcher 2 or 3 small hens for a single meal? We want a hen that can go broody, is a good mother, raise her chicks for the next generation, is a good forager and will feed a family of 4.

Dominique Chicken

Selecting A Chicken Breed

Wondering what is the best chicken breed for your flock is? Victoryfarm made an outstanding video about some of the chicken breeds they raise.

Some of the chickens discussed in the video:

Barred Rocks
Rhode Island Reds
Hybrids

My experiences with the Barred Rocks and rhode Island Reds have been opposite of his. My Rhode Island Reds seem to be a little more fussy then my Barred Rocks.

Both of my Barred Rocks are pretty tame, and only 1 of my Rhode Island Reds is tame.

I have raised Barred Rocks twice, and both times they have been hardy during the winter time.

This is my first time raising Rhode Island Reds, but so far I like them My grandmother raised a lot of Rhode Islands when my dad was a kid.

Best Chicken Breeds For SHTF

Speckled Sussex, Australorp, Barred Rock and Rhode Island Red

What chicken breeds are best for a long term SHTF survival situation? Most breeds are good foragers, but we want something that would make a good meat chicken, good layer, good breeder, is friendly with other chickens and deals with confinement well.

Chickens are an excellent livestock choice for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI. Eggs are a good source of protein, fats and essential amino acids. Chicken meat is a good source of protein. Chickens can be let out out of the chicken coop during the day, and they will return to the coop at night. Which is unlike other livestock that will wonder off if let out of their pen.

There are more chicken breeds than someone can shake a stick at. For the sake of this discussion, let’s look at heritage chicken breeds that have been established for more than 100 years. This gives the breed a century to prove itself. If a chicken breed is going to work out, then this gives it a century to succeed or fail

My suggestions are the Barred Rock (which is part of the Plymouth Rock family), Rhode Island Red and the Australorp.

Barred Rock

Thoughts on the Barred Rock Chicken

To be perfectly honest, the Barred Rock chicken is one of my favorite breeds. My first exposure to the Barred Rock was back in the late 1980s. My first wife and I got some chicks around 1988 0r 1989, raised them for around a year or so, then butchered them.

Barred Rock ChickenThe Barred Rocks my new wife and I got in February 2012 are very much like the ones I had back in the 1980s.

Some of my favorite points about the Barred Rock:

Friendly – one of my rocks will walk right up to me, let me pick it up and pet it. The other rock stays at arms length, but does not act scared.

Foraging – Barred Rocks seem to be excellent foragers. They are always wanting to get out of the coop to explore. When I open the coop to let the chickens free range, the Rhode Island Reds and Rocks are the fist ones out the door.

Good layers – My rocks lay just about every day. If they do not lay everyday, they lay about every other day.

Good meat chicken – Its been a few years since I have butchered a Barred Rock, from what I remember these chickens have a good thick breast and plenty of meat on them.

Cold Hardy – The Plymouth Rock (aka Barred Rock) was developed in the New England part of the United States. With the Rock being cold hardy, they are supposed to keep laying through the winter, but with decreased production.

Quiet – The hens do not make a lot of noise.

Four chicken breeds survivalist should consider

Are you thinking about getting chickens for urban survival, or as part of your long term survival plans?

Lets say SHTF, what are the breeds of chickens you should focus on? In my opinion, some of the better chicken breeds for survivalist are the Rhode Island Red, Barred Rock, Speckled Sussex and Australorp.

Rhode Island Red inside chicken coopRhode Island Red

Cock / Roster average weight: 8.5 lbs
Hen average weight: 6.5 lbs
Good foragers
Dual purpose for egg production and butchering
Egg production: around 200 eggs a year

My grandparents kept Rhode Island Reds back in the 1960s and early 1970s. Dad told me Rhode Island Reds are good at foraging and finding their own food.

Early 2012 my wife and I bought 4 Rhode Island Reds for our flock. Out of all the chickens we have, the RIR are the most friendly and affectionate. When I open the door to the coop, the RIRs walk up the ladder to greet me. I can pick up my RIRs as easily as I can pick up the family cat.

From time to time my wife and I will let a couple of the chickens out of the coop. The Rhode Island Reds go to work scratching through the leaves looking for something to eat.

What survivalist can learn from the chicken of tomorrow project

From wikipedia – The Chicken of Tomorrow is a 1948 documentary short film about advances in chicken and egg farming. This mini-documentary was narrated by Lowell Thomas and is in the public domain.

The film was mocked in a seventh-season episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Chicken of Tomorrow deals with poultry farming and egg farming in the mid 1940s. Filmed to educate the public about how poultry and eggs are farmed, it also deals with how advances in genetic engineering and technology produces a larger chicken. Eggs are farmed and kept in industrial incubators, and an equal number of chickens are used for meat and other products. Altogether, this produces more food for less money, and allows people to support local poultry farms without breaking the bank. This is relatively similar to today’s poultry farming despite there now being technological differences.

The chicken of tomorrow should provide some food for thought for survivalist who are raising chickens. Do you want a flock of skinny chicken for your family? Or do you want types of chickens that have plump full breast and will lay plenty of eggs?

Do you want chickens that are slow growers and susceptible to disease? Or do you want chickens that mature quickly, lay good quality eggs, have a nice thick breast and resistant to disease?

Our First Dozen Eggs

Dozen fresh yard eggsIts official, my wife and I got our first dozen eggs. The eggs are rather small, but they will get larger as the chicken matures. My aunt calls the first eggs a chicken lays “pullet eggs”.

The first egg was laid on July 14, 2012

The 12th eggs was laid on July 22, 2012.

The chickens went from laying one egg every other day, to laying 3 eggs in one day. For the past 3 days, the chickens have been laying 3 eggs a day.

It took around 4 months and 3 weeks before the first egg was laid. After the chickens starting laying, the rate of laying has picked up dramatically. Hopefully the rate of laying will continue to pick up over the next few weeks. As of right now, I think only 3 of my 13 hens are laying. When all of the hens start laying, I am hoping to get anywhere from 6 – 10 eggs a day.

My wife and I have 13 chickens:
2 Black Giants
1 Speckled Sussex
2 Barred Rocks (aka Plymouth Rocks)
2 Silver Laced Wyandotte
2 Australorps

From now on, my family and I do not have to buy our eggs from the grocery store. During a long term SHTF survival situation, my family will have a source of protein and a source of fresh food.

Chickens have been a vital food source to humans for thousands of years. There is no need to change now.

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Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018