For those getting juvenile pullets this year I thought I’d share a bit for those who are new to poultry. I’ve skipped a few common sense things like how they also need water with their food.
The pullets you receive should be fed a free choice ration of 18-20% grower. Once they reach 16 weeks you can switch them over to a layer crumble or pellet.
The majority of the Backyarder Rainbow Collection are at a juvenile stage in their growth and likely to molt one last time before laying that first coveted egg. If you notice missing feathers don’t fret, they will grow back. If you have birds in the 7-12 week age range you will need to handle gently at that time as they may be in a partial molt. It’s OK if you see chickens eat ground feathers. Sometimes they even eat their own feathers as a good source of protein.
If it’s cold at night you can raise the level of protein to a higher percentage such as 22% to prevent feather damage. Minimize food scraps and treats (corn scratch) until your birds are already laying. They do not require heat at this time. They should be mostly feathered. But if you feel that it’s still too cold out you can supplement heat as long as you have a safe way of doing so.
Fighting hens can be problematic if one draws blood. I suggest treating wound with an anti fungal or salve and placing duct tape over the affected area. The duct tape will eventually fall off after the wound has healed.
Yes, hens have waddles and combs on their heads. However, if it wakes you up in the morning with a trumpet sounding song it’s more than likely a rooster.
Most of our birds are soft feather meaning that they have fluffy feathers. Some that we raise have a more compact feather arrangement and they are known as hard feathered. It’s more likely that you will see feather damage in the soft feathered breeds of poultry.
With the Backyarder Rainbow Collection, we allow you to pick one out of every 3 pack and we will pick the accompanying two. **Update: This blog was written during the 2019 season. Picking one out of every 3 pack does not apply for our 2020 Season onwards. We are only selling chicks at this time, no pullets available. We will pick all three breeds. We will also do our best to give a variety in egg colour.
If you have any other suggestions to add to this list please feel free to email me.
If you have any questions about the backyard rainbow collection here is a link:
As you may know, the Bielefelder chicken was methodically engineered in Germany by Gerd Roth relying heavily on American poultry breeds. It would seem a tribute to American standard bred large fowl or possibly a secondary attempt in the 1980's to create a coloured large growth chicken. The breeds used in creation of the Bielefelder consist of New Hampshires derived from strains of Rhode Island Reds, Amrocks, Wyandottes, and Belgian Malines (which we've had at the farm prior to their flight south across the border to the USA market) It’s amazing how far we've come as well. Did you know that when we first imported them it required subsequent imports to increase the odds of producing better breeders? We worked steady for their first 2 years in good numbers line breeding the best looking bird that we felt was worthy of the praise originally bestowed upon it by all of the farmer bloggers hawking it as the ultimate uber chicken.
Originally we found that there just wasn't the vigor needed for good stock. Trap nesting was required for a period of time to select the best and earliest layers since our original imports didn't lay eggs until almost 9 months of age. We were able to improve point of lay by almost 4.5 months in our stock after only 2 years. Then came the detective work as I methodically retraced Gerd Roth's steps. Since the Silvers were an original part of Gerd Roth's breeding of Bielefelders, you can carefully use them to increase genetic vigor in your flock. We have maintained the auto sexing feature and calm demeanor in both our Silver and Creole lines.
Our new lines have been selected from large breeding programs of the original breeds Mr. Roth used to create the birds you see today. With good partners and friends, we hope that by 2020 there will be enough of our stock in hands across the continent that it will allow for much better growth traits. I feel that it is possible to have a Bielefelder available in a 16 week point of lay and additional males growing fast enough for the dinner table by 12 weeks.
Industrial breeders choose to lock up their genetics in large multi-national corporations and protect their market by using hybrid breeds like the Caramel Queen, Black Star, and Isa Browns to keep you coming back. If you buy birds that don't breed true or to a standard you will not be able to accomplish a respectable breeding program. Much can be said for industry in the way we have become reliant on huge freezers packed full of frozen goods flown in from all over the world. Our goal is to have open source birds available to the hard working hobbyists and farmers. I'm not trying to impress you, I just hope you give us a try and let our birds that I've worked with over the years speak for themselves.
This is the chicken collection that we offer exclusively to backyarders. You will find out at around 16-20 weeks what exactly your laying hens will be giving you for fresh coloured eggs. We do our best to provide you with multi-coloured eggs. Birds from this collection are brooded together so you can expect they will transition into your coop with few issues. Birds are selected for compatibility and same age from stock available at the time you contact us and vary week to week. We select the birds and have yet to receive a complaint as majority of the birds exceed our clients' expectations. If you take a tour of some of Vancouver's surrounding cities like North Vancouver, New Westminster, Squamish; and in Victoria and other Vancouver Island municipalities, you will be amazed at the types of chickens you see in people's backyards.
Majority of the birds we sell for this collection can be shown in poultry competitions. If you are one of the city folks fortunate enough to own chickens, we do encourage you to bring the kids out and show off the hens or become a member of a local poultry fanciers club. Ours is the Fraser Valley Poultry Fanciers. There are some really great people at the events. Come out and show off your Light Sussex, Barnevelders, and New Hampshire hens!
Ages of birds range from 8-12 weeks. You may select one breed that you like best from the stock available and we'll do the rest.
Thanks for dropping by. I'm Matthew Nelson, farmer of Grade Eh Farms. I post on where my love and passion for life intersect with family, farming, food, & chicken for the soul.
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Below are links to websites that gardeners and chicken owners may find helpful and interesting:
Unique chicken coop for a small backyard:
Best source for backyard henhouses in BC. Locally-crafted chicken coops made of repurposed BC cedar:
Useful information on raising healthy, happy free-range hens:
A portion of our ordering policy was stolen from Legbars of Broadway. Thanks Philip. :-)