Monday, August 9, 2010

Leghorns, Marans and Flock Management

The two leghorns
Today I received an email and subsequent phone call from someone wanting to buy the two leghorns. That's a relief, because it means that I'm pricing the birds to sell and still making some money on them for all the work I've done to get them to this age.  The reality is that even though leghorns are great egg producers, they're not what I'm looking for in a chicken program.

White leghorns are the chickens that lay the white eggs that you see in the grocery store.  While I have brown leghorns, these birds will eventually lay white eggs and lay a lot.  Like most Mediterranean chicken breeds, they're not particularly friendly and they're lightweight, making them not exactly suitable for chicken dinners.  While my late mom would only eat eggs with white shells, I'm learning how valuable it is to have calmer brown and blue egg layers.  I guess I like birds I can handle without feeling like I've just abused them.  I hear that once they start laying, they calm down, but I'm starting to think they're not staying in my program.

Leghorns are very good in confinement and won't sit on their eggs (hence excellent production egg layers).  They are lightweight egg producing machines.  While there is something to be said for that, I think I've come up with the breeds I really want.  These breeds include Orpingtons (Buff and other colors), Easter Eggers and Marans.  The Orpingtons are dual purpose chickens that lay brown eggs.  Easter Eggers lay green and blue and Marans, also dual purpose, lay chocolate colored eggs.  What's more, you cross a Marans rooster with Easter Eggers and you get Olive Egger chicks.  (They lay olive colored eggs).  Very cool!

Why raise chickens that lay different colored eggs?  Well, I think it's a bit of a novelty.  When you can show people that your eggs look different from eggs they buy in the store or eggs that they might buy from other farms, I think it's a selling point.  I also think it's kind of cool to plan on owning different color breeds because they're just naturally more attractive.  Plus the personalities of the birds are a big plus.  Now that my Easter Eggers are laying and getting close to laying, they're settling down and becoming very friendly.  Orpingtons are known for their friendliness and my Buffs are very sweet.  As for Marans, well, I will be getting some eggs to try to hatch.  Hopefully, we'll get some decent chicks.

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