Here at my farm in Bedford, New York, I always enjoy bringing visitors down to see my chickens.
I’ve long enjoyed the pastime of raising chickens. I began raising chickens primarily for their eggs, but over the years, I’ve also grown fond of caring for them, and learning about their many different breeds and varieties. I have four coops that house more than 100-chickens. Most of them come from Traci Torres, the founder of My Pet Chicken. From the moment they arrive, I make sure they are housed properly, fed all the best, most nutritious foods, and have enough room to roam and range happily. I am pleased to report, all my chickens are doing very well - and are enjoying these winter months fertilizing the vegetable gardens adjacent to their yard.
Here are some recent photos of my flock. And, happy Chinese New Year! On the Chinese calendar, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.
The day started off quite mild, so all the chickens were out in their yard – some perched on their ladders so they could watch all the activity.
At my farm, I have a mélange of types and breeds that are really interesting to look at and fascinating to study.
I also have two Pomeranian guard geese that keep watch over my flock. They are very protective and very noisy, especially when greeting visitors.
During this time of year I open the adjacent vegetable gardens to the chickens, so they can fertilize the soil. Chickens provide a tremendous nitrogen source to the area, and are champions of turning the soil, and eliminating the weeds.
The chickens are given access to the gardens during the day, and then returned to their coops at night where it is safe from predators.
I started raising chickens many years ago, and vowed to always have my own coops where I could keep happy, healthy and beautiful birds.
I’ve always had enough egg-laying hens to provide me and my family with fresh, nutritious, organic eggs all through the year. This is a Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner, a very rate breed from Germany. This breed is friendly and docile, with stunning plumage.
These are Black Copper Marans – a rooster and a hen. These chickens are hardy, calm, quiet, and are known to be good foragers without being too destructive.
This is a White Crested Black Polish – a very special and unique breed of chicken with a huge bouffant crest of feathers.
The speckled ones are Mille Fleur d’Uccle Bantam hens. These beauties have been on the farm for years.
Chickens prefer to roost on high levels. In their fenced enclosure, the chickens are provided ladders and natural roosts made out of felled trees. As you can see, my chickens are very happy birds. This is the rare Cream Legbar, valued for being a prolific layer of medium-size blue eggs.
This rooster is walking back and forth atop a cross bar perch about three-feet off the ground. During the day, roosters often sit on perches to serve as lookout for the group – hence the term “rooster”.
The Lavender Orpington is a large, loosely-feathered bird with a medium sized comb. They are very good-natured and easy to handle.
Here are my four turkey toms, also known as gobblers. They are so stunning with their raised tails.
This is a Cuckoo Bluebar, a breed exclusive to My Pet Chicken. This hen is standing on a row of nesting boxes that were just cleaned.
Twice a day, early morning and late afternoon, the birds are given cracked corn. They also eat plenty of vegetable and fruit matter. Here is a Lavender Wyandotte rooster and a Splash Ameraucana hen.
Of all the ornamental chicken breeds, the Silkie Bantam is among the most loved. These are the “lap dogs” of the chicken world, complete with hair-like plumage and an incredibly sweet temperament.
This is a Silver Spangled Hamburg – a very popular breed because of its calm, sweet personality and fantastic mothering qualities.
I love learning about all the different breeds, and what kinds of eggs they lay. I am also fascinated by their many colors and feather patterns. This is a Blue Copper Marans rooster and a Buff Brahma hen.
This is another gorgeous Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner. It is easy to see the unique plumage that’s so rare in the chicken world.
Inside the coops, hanging feeders are filled with organic layer feed. It provides the hens with protein, which helps them lay strong and healthy eggs.
When laying, hens appreciate privacy – my coops have individual nesting boxes for all my hens. Female chickens are called pullets for their first year, or until they begin to lay eggs. For most breeds, chickens generally start laying eggs around four or five months of age.
These are three of my 12 Guinea fowl. Sometimes called “original fowl” or Guinea hens, these birds play a pivotal role in the control of ticks, flies, locusts, scorpions and other invertebrates. They eat both insects and seeds, and are quite loud, but very interesting to look at with their featherless heads and polka-dotted feathers.
I love the colors and markings on this chicken – so pretty.
Chickens are not difficult to keep, but it does take time, commitment and a good understanding of animal husbandry to do it well. This is a beautiful Silver Laced Wyandotte hen at the doorway of her coop.
And in return, all my avian friends provide wonderful company. See you later, my dear Pomeranian geese – take good care of our flock.