We bough chicks last year from Southwestern Supply and they started laying for us in late August, after they matured. They’ve been laying steadily ever since. We bought Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns and built a straw bale coop that is elevated with a wire run to give them shade and protection.
The coop is roofed in double-bubble for waterproofing and we’ll be adding a tin roof m
ade of recycled cans. The hens are warm in winter and cool in summer. With five hens we average between two and six eggs a day. Snow took the egg production down a little, but there has been enough for us and our neighbors.
We also feed organic seed, and this year we’re looking to add to the flock with a couple of Barred Rock chicks. But there are some other good chicken options for those looking for good laying hens.
This is called an ideal American chicken. They’re prolific layers of brown eggs and are not discouraged by cold weather. They’re often called Plymouth Rocks, but that name belongs to the entire breed not just the barred variety. Developed in New England in the early 1800’s, they came from crossing Dominiques and Black Javas. Their solid plumpness and yellow skin make a beautiful heavy roasting fowl.
We’re looking to add a couple of Barred Rock hens to the roost and we’ll expand the coop a little to acomodate them and give them a little bigger run for ranging.
Rhode Island Red
The Reds are outstanding for production qualities and have led the contest for brown egg layers time after time. No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs. We love the flavor in our eggs from our red hens.
The Reds also seem to be our comic relief in the hen house–they’re curious about anything, and are always eager to get treats.
Leghorns, rose comb brown
These hens have the same plumage color as the single comb variety, but instead of the straight-blade single comb they have rose combs, which are low, solid, thick and covered with small rounded points. An advantage of the rose comb is in cold climates they are less likely to suffer frostbite. The dark color and quick action make for a good range bird where there is danger of predators. They are real hustlers, range far and look out for themselves very well. Our Leghorns lay white eggs and they have been great layers over the winter.
We may add to our Leghorns–we have the white varity right now–but we’re going to introduce new chicks only a few at a time. You can overwhelm your hen house and newcomers need some time for the old timers to get used to them.
Overall the chickens have been a great addition to the ranch, laying enough that we’re able to give eggs to our older neighbors and those who don’t have the joy of chickens around.