A Few of our Happy Hens

Every now and again the girls stand still for the camera, this morning was one of those rare times! Meet Lucy, Lorraine & Dottie.

Lorraine & Lucy’s breed: Australorpe, and Dottie is a LeghornX.

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Best and Worst Heat Tolerant Chickens

Most chicken keepers are more concerned about cold tolerant breeds. But if you live in the Sonoran desert, the scorching heat is by far a bigger problem.  Before you order your Spring chicks keep in mind these three breeds for heat hardiness. They’ve proved to me over and over to be the real survivors of the flock.

Best

  • Ameraucana
  • Dominique  (Best of heavy breeds)
  • Polish
  • Silkie
  • Bantams in General

Heavy birds are harder to keep in hot weather, especially if they are confined. They may survive, but heat stress does effect egg production. However, it’s not always just heavy breeds I find intolerant. These are the breeds I’ve had the least success with in extreme temperatures of 110 – 117.

Worst

  • Orpington
  • Leghorn
  • Most Heavy Breeds in General
  • Rhode Island Reds

I’ve eliminated the Rhode Islands from my flock not because they don’t survive the heat… they absolutely do. However, they become extremely agitated in brutal heat and all the other members of the flock pay the price. This breed may lay all summer without interruption, but they can sure disrupt the harmony of a flock when they are uncomfortable in high temperatures.

In my opinion, the real trooper in the worst weather conditions is the Ameraucana, and they’re good layers too! But don’t pick this breed if your looking for a pal, this is the loser breed as far as I’m concerned. The perfect word describing this breed is ALOOF.

The Ameraucana, or often called the Easter Egger lays blue/green eggs, and you can expect approximately four medium-large eggs per week.

Learn more about the Ameraucana.

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Leghorn

The Leghorn originated in Italy. The color varieties were developed in Great Britain, America, and Denmark. These birds are probably the best known breed of chicken, and without a doubt produce the majority of the world’s white eggs.  Females weigh only about 4.5 pounds, and you can expect her to lay up to 300 eggs per year, especially if she is a white.  Roosters weigh in at 5.5 to 6 pounds.

Leghorns are found in both single and rose comb forms and in a variety of colors including White, Buff, Silver, Red, Cuckoo, Mottled and Brown.  The Browns are separated by dark and light. Their primary contribution is eggs, these birds are a poor choice as a meat bird, however, cockerels can be used as fryers for the dinner table.

These birds are non setters, meaning they will lay their eggs and walk away. Most leghorns are hatched in an incubator. They are considered flighty and nervous and not particularly friendly, perhaps aloof is best described. The Leghorn bears confinement well and is cold hardy.
Point of lay is 20 weeks.

Note: Leghorns are prone to frostbite, but it can be avoided by applying petroleum jelly on their comb.

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Fantastegg Varieties

Experts believe that all chicken eggs were once brown.  It is thought that white eggs were created by cross-breeding chickens until the eggs became lighter and lighter in color.  However, eggs do indeed come in a variety of colors depending on the breed of chicken. 

Ameraucana, blue-green egg layer

It’s easy to tell what color eggs a specific hen will lay by the color of her earlobes.  White earlobes, white egg layer, reddish earlobes, brown eggs, simple as that!  The Araucana/Ameraucana, also called the Easter Egger, lays a blue-green egg.  The earlobes of the Araucana/Ameraucana are a grayish blue, same as their legs and feet.  No matter what color the egg, the flavor is identical.

 

These beautiful eggs are all from my hens, as you can see the Ameraucanas produce the largest eggs. They are also without a doubt my most consistent layers. However, they are my least friendly birds, aloof is how they are best described.

Rhode Island Red, brown egg layer

White shelf eggs at the grocery store come from Leghorns, they are the egg machines producing a whopping 280 eggs per year.
Today, the Single Comb White Leghorn is the most popular breed and is the best known of all the white egg breeds.  Leghorn chickens have excellent disease resistance, lay at the highest rate and have the best feed to laying ratio of all chicken breeds.  Leghorn pullets generally weigh about 4 lbs. at maturity, start laying at 4½ to 5 months, and will continue 10 to 12 weeks longer than most good layers.  However, I’ve found them intolerant to the extreme heat here in Phoenix and have eliminated them from my flock.

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