Last year, I bought Polish chics. Everyone said I was wasting my time because they aren’t considered “excellent layers”. I wasn’t getting them to Lay, although, when the temperatures are right and they aren’t Broody, they give enough white eggs to make me happy.
So what did I get them for?
I got them to add interest to my flock…to my “yard birds” as I call them. I heard they were sweet birds and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, until a relative’s child chased one across the yard nailing it with a basketball over and over, I had one I called a Lap Bird because she’d run and sit on my lap every time I came into the yard. That’s her above, Chica. She doesn’t completely avoid me now but thanks to that two year old and his ball, she is no longer willing to get on my lap.
Moving on, did I mention Broody? I never knew how much until this past summer. I had one Bantam Cochin go Broody and that sent every Polish and Houdan Hen I had into a broody-cluster-bleep.
Don’t know what Broody is? Means a Hen wants to be a Mother. So she will sit on eggs come hell or high water. She will sit on everybody’s eggs and as long as it takes to get herself some hatched out babies.
When Hens go Broody, they no longer lay. Did you know that? I soon learned that, lol.
I decided this year I was going to purchase some birds based on Laying ability. I also wanted something that would go Broody, if I needed, and hatch out their own eggs. When you keep chickens, you realize soon enough that there is a big difference between raising them with a heat lamp and allowing a Hen to hatch and raise them. That might be another article….because I noticed A LOT of differences. I’m also tired of buying baby chics. I need to find a way to keep fresh ones moving in without having to pay big bucks.
I went with Black Australorps. They are known for being birds with good temperaments and can hatch out their own. They are also dual-purpose birds. Dual purpose means eggs and meat. That means if they hatch out Roosters, I can add those to my freezer. Although they are not fast to mature as far as meat goes, and I’m not really into butchering birds because to me, catching chicken on sale is cheaper than raising them, (although there are plenty of good reasons to raise to butcher), I don’t like waste. I know by hatching out my own, I’m gonna end up with more Roosters than I need. No one wants Roosters. You might find someone here or there that takes one, but not in Masses. If anyone comes to your house willing to take twenty Roosters than you can bet they are getting them for the stew pot. Sorry, but facts is fact. Put an ad in Craigslist advertising a bunch of Roosters for Free and see how quickly people jump over themselves to contact you. All of them will have some glorious story as to why they are willing to take them. All of those stories will be of some fabrication of a same old tale, “I am a bird santuary. We take free birds and give them a forever home to save them from those who are about to kill them.”
Now, while I can’t speak for every person out there who is singing this tall tale, I can tell you, it most cases, its BS. Anyone who has had one Rooster knows that, that is hard enough at times. You see what one Roo does to other Roos or, more importantly, to the Hens. That’s why people who have Roo’s usually have so many Hens your eyes will pop. It makes it easier on the Hens. And trust me, a Roo has his pros and cons—as far as why you should have one or may have need of one—but we don’t want to make every other animal miserable by keeping him. So, lots and lots of Hens—that’s my modo. And if anyone tries to talk you into take a few Roosters – telling you their neighbors wont let you have them or for whatever reason, and they say, they are so sweet and don’t fight.
Sooner or later, two Roos are gonna fight. The only thing that takes the edge off or gives them a chance at a more peaceful existence is to give them more dang Hens than they know what to do with. That’s my opinion. But don’t hate the Roo for it. They are SUPPOSED to act this way. You need them there to fight. If you don’t know why, you will soon enough. But enough about that. Here….more Roos than what I need….in the freezer they shall go.
Back to my babies, I actually thought all of my Polish were out of their broodiness. Even when I ordered twenty-something baby Australorps, the Hens had left the Coop of self-convinced broodiness. They would try to get into the baby hatchery—the area that is fenced underneath an old playhouse that we refurbished for all baby-things—but that’s just because they are nosey and wanted to feast on baby food. Or so I thought.
Two weeks ago, I moved the baby Australorps into a chicken Tractor while I cleaned out their totes. One of my Silver-Laced Polish Hens named, Elvis, was freaking out and trying to get in. She wouldn’t stop and was really stressing out about it. She was acting like my Bantam Cochin who hatched a few baby cochins this year when she got separated from one or two. Literally loosing her skull over it. So, just to see what she would do, I put her in there. I was ready to jerk her out, of course, in case things turned into a slaughter fest. Things didn’t. Elvis starts fussing over twenty something baby chickens like they were her own. And she has been doing it ever since! .
That’s her above, showing them how to find food and protecting them in the yard. Thanks to her, I can let them free-range during the day with the rest of the animals. She makes sure none of the other Hens start their bullying routine. Not only that, she mothers the baby turkeys that I have as well.
At night, when she takes them back into their penned area underneath the chicken coop, she almost disappears as they all crowd and snuggle around her, even sleeping on top of her!!!!
While my Polish, again, aren’t the most dependable on eggs, I now know that come next year, if my Black Australorps don’t make good mothers or cant handle a big mess of babies, my Polish girls will step in as surrogates
Nature is pretty impressive if I do say so myself!.