Showing posts with label Chicken Breeds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicken Breeds. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

CHICKEN BREEDS - The Araucana Chicken

Aracuana Hahn cropped.jpg
Aracuana Rooster (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The Araucana was initially developed in South America, specifically in Chile in the early 1900s by a professor of animal science. The Breed was developed from birds kept by a native Chilean tribe, the Mapuche. Later in the 1930s, the Araucana was introduced to the United Kingdom. The unique traits of the Araucana chicken come from cross breeding of the Collonca, a small single comb bird which lacks a tail and lays blue eggs, and a Quetero, which has a flowering tail, a pea comb and lays brown eggs.

When crossed with other breeds the Araucana offspring will lay blue eggs, this is where the development or the Ameraucana came from as the Araucana have a genetically lethal allele combination that results in the death of some chicks. The aim of developing the Ameraucana was to standardise the laying of a blue egg laying breed and to remove the genetic flaw.

Araucana Chicken Breed Facts

Class
Standard, All Other Standard Breeds.

Bantam, All Other Combs, Clean Legged.

Size
Standard Cock: 5 lb. (2.25 kg)

Standard Hen: 4 lb. (1.8 kg)

Bantam Cock: 26 oz. (740 g)

Bantam Hen: 24 oz. (680 g)

Comb, Wattles & Earlobes
Small pea comb; wattles are very small or absent; earlobes are very small and smooth and covered by an ear tuft. All are bright red.

Tail
Entirely absent; saddle feathers flow over the rump.

Colour
Black. Black beak, shanks, and toes; brown eyes; standard black plumage.
Black-Breast Red. Hornbeak; reddish bay eyes; greyish yellow shanks and toes. Male: Head, hackle, and saddle are reddish chestnut changing to gold at lower extremities. Front of neck and breast are lustrous black. Tail and wings are black with reddish bay highlights. Under colour is slate. Female: Head and hackle are reddish chestnuts against a cinnamon brown body. Tails and wings have some black. Under colour is slate to light cinnamon.
Blue. Standard blue plumage

Buff. Standard buff plumage.

Golden Duckwing. Hornbeak; red eyes; willow shanks and toes. Standard golden duckwing plumage.

Silver. Standard silver plumage.

Silver Duckwing. Hornbeak; red eyes; willow shanks and toes. Standard silver duckwing plumage.

White. Yellow beak, shanks, and toes; red eyes. Standard white plumage.

Place of Origin
Chile

Conservation Status
Study

Special Qualities
Lays blue to bluish green eggs. Has a lethal allele combination; some chicks die during incubation.
The Araucana was first admitted to the American Poultry Association (APA) in 1976.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

CHICKEN Rearing 101 - How Not to Raise Chickens

Chick: A hatchling
Capon: A castrated male used for meat. (How much could that yield?)
Pullet: A female chicken under one year old. 
Hen: A female chicken over one year of age 
Rooster: A male chicken over one year of age.

A chicken coop.
A chicken coop. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Raising Chickens for the first time can be intimidating. When I first called the Feed Shop, I was trying to sound like a pro. I asked, “Do you sell pullets?” “Yes”, the man replied. “Are they all females?” It’s been an uphill battle ever since. 

Pullet parenthood is an much of an adventure as child rearing, only with more feces per pound of body weight. However, I’ve been reading quite a bit on poultry matters. (Yes, my coolness just turned over in its grave.) So if I am correct and I am quite certain I am not, here is how chicken rearin’ goes.
Go to your local feed store and purchase $10.00 worth of chicks and $50 worth of food and supplies. Don’t forget the water dispensers. Buying the metal ones, never plastic is always advised. I have yet to see a metal one.

Next, place the chicks somewhere sheltered, like a bedroom closet. Toss in some highly flammable straw or wood shavings and promptly dangle a glowing heat lamp just above them. Note to self: Update homeowner’s policy.

For the next several weeks feed them 3 lbs of food per day and remove 4 lbs of sh*t per day from the closet. Despite all logic the birds get bigger. As the adult feathers grow in be sure to clip one of their wings. That is one per bird, not just one wing total. If clipping is done late chicks will nest in your toilet. This is a bad thing. 

Clipping can be accomplished by tossing your scissors and your body into the heaping mound of chicks, poop and straw. Grab a wiggling screeching bird from the bile pile. Restrain it with one hand. Stretch the wing out with your second hand. Clip off 50% of the wings outer ten feathers with your third hand. 

As the birds grow adjust the heat light temperature down by one degree per day. No, this is not actually possible. That’s not my point. You start at 100 degrees for hatchlings then continue down by one degree per day until your bedroom is a minimum of 3 degrees cooler than the spring blizzard outside your window.

Once you have frozen your ear to your semi-cannibalistic down pillow and the chicks have grown their adult feathers, they can be moved outside to the coop. I estimate the initial closet rearing stage to have taken five years. 

Before the move, experience the Joy of Wing Clipping one more time. Feather clipping never works the first time. No one knows why. Still, after all the hassle you probably don’t want them to fly the coop in under sixty seconds. Of course, if you’re like me, by this time you may be inclined to pack them each a lunch and leave a stack of Greyhound tickets by the open coop gate. 

Regarding habitat construction: Hen houses and chicken coops are a competitive art form. There are a myriad of web sites showing off architectural designs from Chicken Chateaus to Bird Bordellos. The meticulous craftsmanship makes my own home look like – well – like a chicken coop. 

Always fashionable, I went with a shabby chic motif for my coop. The nesting boxes are an eclectic mix of stolen milk crates affixed to the wall by anything in arms reach. As for the coop itself, there is a gift for tight chicken wire, which eludes me. Quite frankly, my first attempt at a coop looks like Dr. Seuss dropped a hit of acid, blasted some Jefferson Starship and rolled around on the wire with every Who in Whoville. I think I’ll keep it. 

Inferior design aside, I ultimately learned a thing or two. The nesting boxes are supposed to be up off the ground. That is correct. For those of you keeping score you just spent two weeks cutting back the birds flight feathers only to hang their houses in the sky. It’s just sick. 

Higher than the nest boxes, you are to build a roost. This is where the birds crap at night so they do not crap on your breakfast eggs. Of course the roost is usually OVER the nesting boxes, so whatever you do, don’t use those perforated plastic milk crates. 

For young birds maintain a heat light in the hen house. Then on cooler nights an animal with a brain the size of an bulimic toe nail clipping will make the conscious decision to forgo your nest boxes, bypass the instinctual roost and leap into a tanning bed.
And finally there is the feed regime. I asked several experts an
d read up on feeding as well. Make sure to give your chickens, starter formula, mash, growth formula, start & grow, brood formula, grit, no grit, scraps, no scraps, goat placenta, nothing suggested on the internet, tetramyaicn, no antibiotics, medicated starter, non-medicated starter and never ever switch in-between. 

I may not be Queen of the Coop yet, but I’m working on it. Though I am still a zoologist and I still know Birds 101. Here are two myths I can help with. First, you do not need a rooster to get eggs. Most folk, especially those who have never owned chickens, will advise you on chickens. Each will insist you need a rooster for a while to do his manly duties, then you can slip him in the pot. As appealing as this concept is, your pot is a separate issue. 

Roosters are only needed to make fertile eggs. Hens are all that is needed to make breakfast eggs. Fertile eggs are just peachy if raising chicks was such a joy the first time you want to repeat the whole freakin’ process. In addition there is always the risk of breaking a fertilized egg open and finding a 50% formed chick fetus hitting your hot skillet. Yum! Years of therapy will follow.



To keep it straight in your mind consider this: You are going about your life. Suddenly massive balls of calcium start stacking up inside your abdomen. Are you going to hold on to them just because you have not had sex lately? 

The second bird myth is totally unrelated so I thought I would mention it. Penguins occur in nature from the Equator on Southward. That is down to the Antarctica, not the Arctic! No, they do not hang out with Polar Bears who live in the Arctic. No, you did not see them when you worked in Alaska, in the Arctic. Those were puffins. No, I am not sorry you look stupid to all those folks you told penguin tales to. 

Yes, some penguin species even reside on the Galapagos Islands at the equator (Cold weather would kill them), not floating around on icebergs - and not in the Arctic! Yes, I realize my eggs are not all in one basket. Delusional, close-minded people who insist you need a rooster to fertilize your penguin eggs so polar bears won’t loose their food supply drove me crazy! 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

CHICKEN RAISING Terms from B - M

Familiarize yourself with these terms to get a hold of chicken raising.

Bantam – chicken variety that is about half the size of the standard breed of chickens. These breeds are usually bred for ornamental reasons.

An adult male chicken, the rooster has a promi...
An adult male chicken, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bedding – can either be shavings of wood, haystack pile, or newspaper that are added to the floor of the coop and inside a nest box. The purpose of this is for absorption of droppings and odor of chicken poop. It also provides as cushion for eggs to be safely ejected from its mother without the worry of breaking it.

Brood – this could either mean the hens incubating their chicks or a flock of baby chickens.

Broodiness – a chicken’s desire to incubate their babies – unfertilized or fertilized. Broodiness can make an egg hatch or spoil it. There are a lot of factors that may arise in being broody. And the mother is a bit moody when she is manifesting broodiness.

Candling – is a procedure wherein a candle or a light bulb is used. It is the process letting light shine through an egg to determine if it is fertilized or not. Candling can be useful especially if you are planning to separate the eggs with growing embryo and those that you wanted to sell.

Capon – a rooster that has been castrated.

Clutch – fertilized egg groups that hens tend to incubate.

Cockerel – a juvenile or young rooster.

Comb – this is the rubbery, red flat piece of flesh hanging on top of a chicken’s head. Roosters have a more prominent comb than hens. Some who are engaged in cock fighting preferred to cut the rooster’s comb so as not to interfere with the fight.

Coop – house of chickens.

Crop – Part of a chicken’s digestive system that can be found in the esophagus wherein food is first digested before entering the stomach.

Droppings Tray – a tray that collects chicken droppings, which is located under poles for quick disposal. 

Dust bath – A pattern of chicken behavior wherein they dig a hole in the ground and immerse their bodies in earth that has been loosened. They will get down and dirty until they get satisfied. Bathing in dust is a kind of defense mechanism to protect chickens from lice and mites that may invade their feathers and feed on their blood. A dust bath can either be natural or artificial.

Feeder – a container that delivers and holds feeds for chickens.

Fertilized egg – an egg that came from mating of a rooster and a hen and is destined to become a baby.

Grit – bits of rock or sand bits that chickens tend to eat and is stored in the crop that is important for good digestion.

Hackles – chicken’s neck feathers.

Hen – female chicken.

Incubation – process of egg hatching in which application of heat is required. The eggs that are incubated are those that are already fertilized. Constant heat, usual turning, and an environment that is humid are the essential needs of an egg that also comes in with the period. Incubation takes about 21 days before the eggs are expected to hatch. 

Layer feed – a feed that is complete and is made for the sake of laying hens.

Molt or molting – this is the process of feather shedding and re-growing which happens once a year. When molting season comes, laying season is suspended.