Notes from Windward: #70


Mid-winter Chick Update

Opalyn reports on sex-linked developments

     September was spent cleaning and storing incubation supplies so they will be ready this spring. In November, a skunk found ChickPlex and over 20 young birds were injured or missing. As the winter set in we decided to let the rest of the birds in ChickPlex roam the land and collect bugs and other supplements to their standard fare of softened wheat and commercial grain.

     Five Silver Laced Wyandotte Hens and about 10 Rhode Island Red Hens are staying in Vermadise so we can continue to collect eggs over the winter.

hens overwintering in Vermadise

Guinea Fowl

     Nine Guinea Fowl hatched early August. They have grown and joined the three adult Guineas in the fall. As with other breeds we experienced some attrition - now 10 Guineas are roaming our land and munching on bugs.

a baby guinea fowl last August

eight of our 10 mature guineas this past week

India Runner Ducks

     We have eight India Runner Ducks hanging out in the Duck Palace and roaming the forest near their home. Six of the eight were hatched in mid July. The one little boy hatched in late August never matured to the same size as the other birds and injured his leg in December. Since we already have at least three other males I decided to put him down.

mature India Runner ducks

     Nearly two years ago we purchased Silver-Laced Wyandottes and this past summer, I crossed them with a Rhode Island Red rooster. Here is a photo of the babies this past spring. The red bird is female and the blondes have grown into cockerels.

collection of blonde and red chicks ‒ Rhode Island Red Rooster crossed with Silver-Laced Wyandotte Hen

young cockerel developing plumage

mature cockerel ‒ what beautiful plumage

pullet ‒ red with black lace

     We also crossed a Wyandotte with a Cuckoo Maran Rooster. Here is a photo of a mature rooster.

Silver X Cuckoo Maran Rooster

     I set aside two pens to cross the Rhode Island Reds with the Cuckoo Marans.

Cuckoo Maran ‒ Rhodie Cross Pullet

Cuckoo Maran ‒ Rhode Island Red Cockerel

     One last pen in ChickPlex was for maintaining a pure line of Rhode Island Reds.

a mature Rhodie rooster

     This year I plan to do things a bit differently. I will use ChickPlex to house the breeding stock as I did last year. I will cross the Wyandotte Hens with a Rhodie as well as maintain pure lines of Rhode Island Red and Cuckoo Maran. Since we do not have a Wyandotte Rooster we are unable to promote a land race. I will not cross the Wyandottes with the Marans. Nor will I cross the Rhodies with the Marans. There are two reasons for this decision. First, crossing these birds does not promote a trait we are seeking (sex-link or size) and second keeping track of it all has not proven to be worth the challenge.

     I will also be working to improve my ability to sex young birds. Eliot (fall intern) and I were looking into how birds are sexed commercially and we discovered that some birds are vent sexed and some are sexed by the length of their feathers. Thinking back I do recall noticing that the wing feathers were different but all of our birds were too old to use this method last fall. Several videos can be found that will explain how to sex chicks by feather length. According to chickenlover541 the girls will have two layers of feathers on the primary wing. The boys will have only one layer. I plan to put this method into practice since it is much more cost effective to raise pullets.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 71