Toward the end of my first year of raising chickens, I decided I wanted a heritage breed with a rooster and culled out all but my two Buff Orpingtons and my Easter Egger and bought more Buffy pullets. The Easter Egger became the victim of a neighbor’s dog along with a cull and a Buffy pullet, but we carried on with the ones left. Ultimately, the rooster, Cogburn became too aggressive toward others and finally toward me, so he too was culled and Romeo was obtained from the farmer from whom I had gotten the pullets. He was a beat up fellow, but has matured and after a molt has turned into a nice looking rooster and so far, fairly docile.
Last fall I raised a separate flock of Rainbow Rangers for fryer/broiler use, but really didn’t want to deal with day old chicks, brooder, heat lamp and the mess, smell and fire hazard anymore. Son and I discussed whether we could raise just the Buffys and have enough older birds and cockrells raised by the ladies to keep the freezer stocked. The first Buffy went broody when there were still other breeds in the mix and since I couldn’t identify only the Buffy eggs, I took the eggs each day and finally broke her broodiness. The next one to go broody was in November and there was no way I was going to even let her try to raise a brood with winter coming on.
This spring, I bought four 8 week old Americaunas to provide some color in our eggs collection, knowing that I will be able to identify them and not let any hatch.
I lost another hen to dogs just a couple of weeks ago and son and I had just about concluded that the Buffy raised meat birds was a failed project. A few days ago, I realized that there were too many feathers in the coop for this time of year and found a hen sitting a nesting box and “growling” at me when I wanted to collect eggs. The next day she was there again and so I did a bit of research to see how many eggs to leave under her. Like other info on the internet, I saw everything from 10 to 16. Wanting her to actually sit and not abandon the nest, I marked 5 eggs.
I figured I could sacrifice 5 eggs if she abandoned them but she was still there yesterday, even while I cleaned the coop. Yesterday, I heard a commotion in the coop and went to check on it to find another hen trying to lay an egg in her box while she was still in it and another 2 trying to occupy another box simultaneously. There are 6 nesting boxes, but they all seem to want the same two. Last night, I slipped 5 more marked eggs under her, hoping she can raise 10 chicks. She is still sitting them and this afternoon, I found two more eggs under her that were removed. If one more will get broody and I can get her to sit 10 as well, we will replace some of the older hens with pullets, cull the cockrells and succeed in putting about 25 or more birds in the freezer this fall. These chicks should hatch about the time the Americaunas are old enough to eat layer feed and can be moved in with the hens and the chicken tractor will become the nursery until they are old enough to socialize and I can select who get culled and who stays for the winter.