September 28, 2012


We have seven more baby birds! As a second experiment in batch incubation, I started the final incubation batch near the end of August and in Mid-September we had hatchlings. As the fall clean-up was already underway in Chick Plex there was space for the month-old chicks to move to, making way so the hatchlings could have the brooder.

The hatchlings move into the brooder.

Cuckooo-Wyandotte Cross

A Cuckoo Maran cross Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen
short hackle feathers and small comb and wattle

Four of the seven hatchlings are a cross between the Cuckoo Maran rooster and the Silver-Laced Wyandotte hens we purchased in 2009. With the four birds of this cross that hatched earlier this year and these four, we hope to have a new line of chocolate-colored egg layers. Next year we will see what color eggs these ladies lay and make a decision on their long-term place here.

A Cuckoo-Wyandotte hatchling

Unlike the Red Star cross, these birds do show single length feathers in the primary wind for the males and two different layers of feathers for the females. If you're interested in learning how that's done, here's a link to a fun YouTube video on Sexing Newborn Chicks

Two Layers of Feathers - A Girl

Red Star

We acquired the Silver-Laced Wyandottes in 2009, ordering all females. Sometimes a male makes it into the box with the girls but not this time. First generation cross between a Red Rooster and a Wyandotte hen produces a cross called the Red Star. At hatching, the males are blonde and the females are red. Our incubation and hatching in 2010 proved that this cross produces the Red Star, so when we are ready to scale up our production significantly, we will likely bring more Wyandottes to Windward. Without a male to maintain a pure Wyandotte line or purchasing more Wyandottes, we are limited to about three years of egg production. That means that they will be on this fall's butcher list.

A Red Star female and male surrounded by Rhodies
Photo from 2010 - Check out the eye markings.

Second Generation: We kept two Red Star hens because we liked their markings and wanted to see what color eggs they would lay. We also ended up incubating several eggs and true to advertising the sex-link color trait does not persist through a second generation. In this most recent clutch we had two Red Star-Rhodie chicks hatch. They both have the flat comb and eye markings of the Red Star instead of the spiky comb of the Rhode Island Reds.

A Red Star-Rhodie cross - this chick looks similar to the females from 2010.

Silkie Bantam Update

We ordered straight-run silkie bantams and were hoping for a distribution of male and female but as the birds grew and their gender related traits became more evident it was apparent that we had almost all males and only two females. We butchered all but four birds and kept them all in one large pen this spring. As the two females continued to lay eggs while sharing a nest box, we moved them each into her own private hatching pen now have 3 additions to the bantam flock. I'll check on gender traits when I feed the birds on Monday.

A silkie family with another clutch developing

Current Head Count

Rhode Island Reds: 7 Hens, 2 Roosters, 7 pullets (young females), 5 cockerels, 2 chicks (probably pullets)
Red Star: 2 Hens (both to years old)
Cuckoo Maran: 1 Rooster - almost three years old
Silver Laced Wyandottes: 2 Hens - almost three years old
Cuckoo-Cross-Wyandotte: 1 cockerel, 4 pullets, 4 chicks
Silkie Bantam: 2 Hens, 2 Roosters, 3 chicks

Archives - Articles to Review

The Silkies Arrive - August 2011

Learn more about Fall Clean-up

Spring 2012 start up

Red Star Report I and the Baby Bird photo gallery 2010

Red Star Report II and maturing bird photo gallery - 2010

Oana describes building the Whiz-Bang Chicken Plucker.

More about Feather Sexing

The Cuckoo Marans arrive and Camille shares insights from 2009

Fall Butchering Gets Underway

Oana shares her experience with butchering and using the Whiz-Bank Chicken Plucker in 2009

WALT: The process of butchering is emotionally charged, and one way we show our respect for what we're doing is to continually train ourselves to be ever more efficient and effective. Recently we came across three remarkable videos on YouTube that showed the methods used by Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms. Joel's work in developing techniques that produce and process meat in wholesome ways sets a high standard that we pay close attention to. We're avid fans of his books, so we were delighted when we found several videos online showing how they bleed, gut, and cut-up their chickens.

These are explicit videos, so click on these links only if you're sure you want to see how it's done by an expert.

Bleeding out a Chicken

Eviscerating a Chicken

Cutting up a Chicken