Just in case you haven’t followed the Saga of the Brick Chicks, here’s a quick recap:
We have 15 chickens at present…assuming, that is, that the resident fox in the neighborhood allows us to keep up the current count. (He took two back in late August, on one unguarded summer evening, when our watchdog Charley was indoors, miserable with allergies.)
Three are ‘Production’ Reds — Rhode Island Reds that are specially bred to produce more eggs. They look like this:
They are mean, quarrelsome, bossy…and excellent layers. They also began laying eggs earlier than the others. Maybe I’d be crabby too, if I felt that urge all the time!
The rest are Australorps — a Buff Orpington breed refined and expanded on in Australia. They look like this:
(Actually, they look prettier than this — their feathers have an iridescent sheen that is very appealing.)
The Australorps can be skittish, and are scared of their own shadows — unless they think food is involved. Then they’re ruthless. Although I picked up and held the older girls, I did not do so with the younger chickies. It doesn’t seem to matter — they’re okay with me standing by, as long as I keep a respectful distance, and pet them now and then in the nesting box.
We’ve had seven of the Australorps for more than a year — the others, along with the Reds, for about seven months. We got the Reds because the feedstore ran out of Australorp chicks, and offered me these (one of them a freebie) to fill in the quota. The Reds started out larger, and though the Australorps soon caught up to them, size-wise, have continued to rule the roost. Literally.
If your hens are free-range, as ours are, they’ll pick up extra protein from bugs and worms, as well as all the greens they can grab. (Sadly, that also means your perennials, if they can get away with it.) They’ll also clean out any kitchen leftovers you’ve got, including vegetable and fruit peelings, as well as stale bread, dry biscuits, bacon fat and even — horrors! — chicken. (They’re also fond of dried mealworms, which come in half-gallon jars at the feedstore. Disgusting, but the chickens love them.) And they’re passionate about pumpkin — which I hope to restock with after-Halloween and post-Thanksgiving sales.