It's been months since I last shared photos of our chickens with you, so I thought it was time for an update!
They are getting really big, and should be laying any day now. We haven't been supplementing with any heat or light, so that may delay the start of laying, but we're ok with that. We want to see which breeds do the best here without supplementation, so we're ok with getting eggs a bit later than we otherwise would.
Of our 8 breeds that we chose (2 each of Americauna, Ancona, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Speckled Sussex, Buff Orpington, Black Australorp, Barred Rock, and Rhode Island Red), only 2 have had deaths - an Americauna and an Ancona have died. The chickens are all in together, which right now means that our 3 remaining meat chickens are in with the layers. In the future, we'll never ever do this again unless we absolutely have no other choice. Those meat chickens are MEAN and really aggressive! When either my husband or I goes in to feed the birds, the meat chickens are the only birds who come right up and attack us for the food or water dish we are bringing in. The layers come up to us too, but have never pecked at us. I think the 2 dead layers got trampled by the meat chickens. Its hard to tell from a trampled chicken body what the cause of death was of course, but that's what I suspect.
The remaining 14 birds are doing really well though. They are loving all the scraps we feed them and have been learning to brave the snow and ice in their outdoor run. I've been pretty impressed with how they've been doing with the cold temperatures - we've had night temperatures down almost to zero degrees (and that's in Fahrenheit - so well below freezing!). Keep in mind their coop isn't insulated, and even when we close their door to the outside run there are obvious gaps in several places in the old, thin plywood walls.
While some days I wonder whether the chickens are worth it financially for the meat & eggs, they are a great pet-like addition to our property, and good experience for us going forward hoping to grow & raise more and more of our own food ourselves. I'm linking up to the homestead barn hop today - so head on over there and see what other homesteads have been up to in the past week!