The Wyandotte is the latest of our hens to start molting. At least she seems to be doing it faster than some of our other birds. I’m thinking that we got some poorly bred chickens at our local farm store, as we’ve had at least one bird in molt since April. We had one full year from when they were hatched until they started to molt, followed by 7 months of molting chickens.
After having chickens for over a year and a half we are thinking about replacing our hens this spring and starting completely over. Our priorities have changed a little since we first started out. Originally we wanted dual purpose birds for eggs and meat (the homestead standard) … only we really just used the hens for eggs. Thus, it would make more sense for us to get smaller chickens so they eat less and therefore cost us less in feed.
The smaller chickens that I am looking at are not setters. I am considering getting a hen from a breed that could act as a broody mother for the others, because we would like to have some chicks every year that we personally don’t have to buy and raise. This year’s order is going to be mostly straight run chickens, so we’ll have some spare roosters too.
One of the funny things about small chicken breeds that are good at foraging (at least the ones I was looking at) is that they all lay white eggs. I don’t want white eggs because it reminds people of store bought eggs, so my solution to this problem is to add some Araucanas/Americana into the mix. They will still fit perfectly into my 4 to 5 lb weight requirements, but the greens and blues will make the whites seem more exotic.
For meat birds we are thinking about going a different route: geese. The Toulouse Goose breed is known for being gentle and reaching 15 to 20 lbs. Only thing is … I have never eaten goose before, so I am going to buy one at the local meat market. I figure you better like how the meat tastes before you actually start raising the animal.