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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Moving Day & Roo Thoughts

Today, the chicks we hatched live online in January are 6 weeks old. They are feathered, very active, and growing fast. It's now time for the to move from their indoor brooders (two very large aquariums) to the "baby pen" we have outside. We bought this pen used off Craigslist last year from someone who kept bantams in it, and it has been very valuable for us for breeding, rehabbing, flock introductions, and raising babies that are out of the brooder. It has an attached hen house with three nest boxes and a roost.

Our eight chicks in this group will hang out in this pen for the next 6-8 weeks, at which point they will be moved to the tractor (which is a little bigger). Our free ranging flock can come over and socialize with them throughout the day, but they are well protected so we don't have to worry about anyone getting picked on.

Of the eight chicks in this group, we are already sure that two are roosters (2 Leghorns) and two are girls (1 Ameraucana and 1 Leghorn -- although they obviously haven't laid yet, we are pretty confident in judging their temperament and physical characteristics compared to the others). That leaves four chicks that are yet to be determined (3 Marans and 1 Brahma). Going from observations of previous chicks, I'm wondering if removing crowing roos from the group help encourage a new non-crowing roo to step up and start crowing (and therefore revealing their sex). We've noticed in previous years that once we identified a crowing roo and sold it, the next roo would start crowing within a couple days of the sold one being gone (in one case, within a few hours). It may be complete coincidence, but if it does work, it makes sense... remove alpha roo and another gets the opportunity to step up... flock politics at work even at this age.

We are planning to raise the surplus roos this year as meat birds. In a couple of weeks maybe we will tap into this experimental theory and start moving the crowing roos to the tractor to see what happens with any remaining non-crowing roos in the bunch.

(P.S. Join the Barn Hop!)

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