Why Roosters Are Valuable Flock Members

Why Roosters Are Valuable Flock Members

Male chickens are so easy to ignore. It is so easy for society to wash their hands of them. Roosters are important, but (as far as most people are concerned) far less important than the females of the species. But why is this? Why must roosters or cockerels be abandoned with a shrug and maybe a wave? 

The simple answer is that roosters cannot lay eggs, and unless they are being raised as broilers, they are not ideal for meat, either. When hatcheries set out to produce the next generation of chickens, they often endure an awkward period of equal love for all freshly hatched chicks. The love of all chicks is palpable, as any chicken owner might tell you, but there does come with this a certain degree of anticipation – of anxiety, as long as the chickens are not sex-linked. 

At some point – which many owners would say is better sooner rather than later – this batch of fresh-faced little peepers will be sexed. When this happens, the fates of the birds will reveal their cards.

The hens will go into the egg houses or be shipped to eager new owners. One or two of the roos will find their way into the breeding program. But what if there are an abundance of males? Can all of these roosters find their way into that program? Not usually. Because food is expensive (over time, and of course this is not wholly true for all), many of these males find their lives shortened. 

This is a tragic truth of roosters. But today, rather than consider the darkness of their lives, let’s look at what roosters are, and why we should value each and every one.

Are They Roosters Or Cockerels?

It’s good to start with a definition. What are male chickens called? In some circles, they are called “roosters”. In others, they have the name “cockerel.” So, which one is correct? Well, technically, both. A cockerel is a young, immature rooster. A “rooster” is a sexually mature male chicken. Easy! 

Why Keep A Rooster At All?

Roosters serve three significant purposes in your flock of chickens. The most obvious one is reproduction. Hens will lay eggs regardless of the presence of a cockerel. But to fertilize them, a rooster must be present. Farms with hens whose only purpose is to produce eggs might not even need a single rooster around. 

The second purpose of the rooster is that of defense. A single male will stand guard and protect the flock. They are constantly on guard against perceived threats to his hens and chicks. Though they might not look like great fighters, a rooster can hold his own against a number of common threats – attacking with sharp beak, blows from his wings, and scratching with talons and spurs.

Roosters are also good at finding food for the flock. Most people who keep chickens understand the value of a well-planned diet, but traditionally, finding especially tasty vittles fell to the rooster. Once he found something yummy, he would share it with the rest of the crew. 

A fourth reason supersedes the more traditional reasons for chickens in a family – as food, breeding, or eggs – and is far more in line with a modern reason for chickens: vanity. A good rooster just looks good! Many chicken breeds are quite docile, and that coupled with a cheery attitude and generations of good genes, and these males are practically built for showing. This purpose has little to do with the rest of the flock, and everything to do with the individual owner’s motivation for having these birds in their lives. 

Exploring Roosters: How Does Society See Roosters?

They Crow A LOT

This is perhaps one of the most enduring images of a barnyard. You have a rooster on a fencepost, just quietly awaiting the first rays of dawn. The faintest grey coloring slips over the horizon, and the rooster is there, ready, willing and able to greet the sun. Their distinctive call blasts out over the farm. Their crow is the original alarm clock, as it heralds the start of the day. When considering the legacy of a rooster, it is almost impossible to divorce oneself from this cry. It is both an endearing feature of the animal and a damning one. I mean, does anyone really enjoy waking up in the morning?

They’re Cocky

We all know that person. They have a smirk that can kill, and love telling tales of their exceptional lives. These are the ones that have never gone bowling and with their first throw, hit a strike. They have a saunter, a swagger, a sashay; all of these almost demand that attention gravitates towards them, because, after all, they should have their own gravity fields. To themselves, they are stars! Sure, sometimes these attitudes are very much not deserved, but other times, they sure are. These people are cocky. 

As you might have guessed, the adjective “cocky” comes from “cockerel.” Originally, back in Shakespeare’s time, this was a longer “cocksure” – sure of themselves just like a rooster! It’s a good term, one that makes an excellent metaphor for someone. A rooster tends to stand tall and proud, his tail feathers up, his head even higher, perpetually on guard against any threat to the safety and stability of his flock. A truly cocky person takes on the same mannerisms. But rather than protect a flock, a cocky human stands taller and prouder than everyone around them. LOL!

They Fight

Very often, a group of roosters can live together in peace and harmony. There are exceptions, and when a number of roos enter a barnyard, they might become extremely aggressive with one another. These bouts of aggression help the males to figure out dominance. Like with any social grouping, leaders need to be established. This is called establishing a pecking order.

However, when roosters are raised together, they probably won’t fight, because they will have sorted out the pecking order long before they’re mature. The usual rule is keeping 1 rooster per 10 hens, but if you have a docile roo, you can usually keep him with another rooster. Just keep an eye on your hens to make sure they’re not getting hurt.

Roosters are amazing animals. A good one can add so much joy to our lives, and can be trusted to look after the hens in our (short-term) absences. I can’t even begin to describe the value that my own roosters have brought me and my family over the years.

Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide

Black Sex Link Chickens: Buyer & Care Guide

Ever heard of black sex link chickens, but aren’t sure what they’re like? Thinking of adding them to your flock and need more info? In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about this type of chicken!

Pure breed chickens have long been the way to go to add consistency in a home flock of chickens. Pure breeds have some amazing benefits: you can scratch the competition itch by entering them in shows, you are guaranteed registration with the American Poultry Association, and the genetic quirks from long generations are guaranteed to appear in their chicks, leading to generations of consistency within the particular breeds. Yet for all the perks that come from genetic purity, there are just as strong cases of bucking the trend and breeding hybrid chickens. Hybrid chickens are not breeds of chickens, but rather mixes that produce very specifically desired chicken results. One of the most popular of these types of hybrid is the Black Sex Link Chicken. 

What Are Black Sex Link Chickens?

Black sex link chickens are a hybrid mix that results by crossing a pure-bred barred hen and a pure-bred non-barred rooster. For example, crossing a Barred Plymouth Rock hen with a Rhode Island Red rooster will result in sex-linked chicks. When these parents mate, the pullets do not receive a barring gene because the barring gene is only on the male chromosome. Because of this, the sex of their chicks is immediately recognizable through its color. From birth, Black Sex Link pullets are all black, and the males are identifiable by a white spot on their heads. The link here is an invaluable resource for anyone wanting to know the ins and outs the genetics behind sex link chickens.

What Are Sex Link Hybrids? 

In a nutshell (or an eggshell, as the case may be), a sex link hybrid is NOT an official breed of chicken. They retain many of the more positive qualities of their parent chickens’ breeds but are specifically bred for the uniqueness of their coloring. 

Perhaps the most common and popular example of a sex link hybrid is also the most prominent example of the Black Sex Link. If you cross two popular American chicken breeds – a Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female – you will get sex linked chicks. The gender of the resultant chicks will be immediately recognizable upon hatching. 

Why Breed Black Sex Link Hybrids?

In the above example (the Rhode Island Red male and a Barred Plymouth Rock female), the goal is to produce females that can be immediately separated from the males. Then, once these females come of age, they will be some of the best egg-layers around. With good care, they have been known to produce 300 eggs per year. 

An added bonus of this particular pairing of chicken is the size. The Black Sex Link results of this pairing is large enough to serve as meat chickens. Once your Black Sex Link hens have exhausted their eggs, they will make a sizable addition to your dining needs. 

Breed Description FAQ

What Do Black Sex Link Chickens Look Like? 

Black Sex Link pullets are instantly recognizable when they hatch by their pure black down. You can easily recognize male chicks because they have a distinguishable white spot on their heads. At maturity, Black Sex Link hens are usually black with gold hackle and breast feathers. Roosters, on the other hand, have banding across their bodies. Both male and females have red combs and wattles.

So, how large are they? On average, the hens weigh 6-7 pounds. Cockerels weigh around 8-9 pounds. Some hatcheries advertise their black sex link chickens a little lighter: with the hens being only a touch over five pounds and the roosters being about 6 pounds. 

Are they friendly? Black Sex Link Chickens are sometimes described as skittish, curious, energetic, and friendly. Many of their owners love them, but there are some exceptions to the rule. Some Black Sex Link Chickens have been known to be noisy or aggressive to other breeds. This is especially true with the roosters. Some of this could be explained away as an alpha-bird attitude in that they occasionally enjoy being at the top of the pecking order. You might wonder if the hens are broody: we’re happy to share that black sex link hens are not known for their broodiness. 

How long do black sex link chickens live? They live as long as any normal chicken. Rhode Island Reds – one of the parent breeds – are generally known to live into their eighth year. If you’re worried about them surviving the winter, don’t fret: The two parents of the average Black Sex Link Chicken are the Rhode Island Red and the Barred Plymouth Rock. Considering that both of these breeds are very cold hardy, Black Sex Link Chickens breed true in this regard; they are very cold hardy and are ideal for colder environments.

black sex link hen in grass

Are Sex Link Chickens An Accepted Breed By The American Poultry Association?

No, they are not and never will be. One important requirement for chickens to be accepted breeds is that they have to actually be breeds. A breed is a type of chicken that, as defined in the American Poultry Association’s list of breeds, breeds true. A standard is a definition of a breed that each subsequent generations of the breed can be compared to. The APA doesn’t want to disqualify breeds, and offer a means of applying for the entry of new breeds of chicken into the registry but each applicant must have a standard. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are hybrids, they will not breed true. This means that the resultant offspring will not conform to any standard, and they might display a number of deviations from either parent.

Do Black Sex Link Chickens Breed True?

For a chicken to breed true, there must be some genetic consistency within the breed. With Black Sex Link Chickens, the father cockerels share two color genes that might match inconsistently with the single-color gene of the mother hens. The inconsistency of the result could produce variations like heavy banding, or alternative coloring. Because of the roulette matching of genes, Black Sex Link Chickens cannot breed true. As a result, most Black Sex Link Chickens are not bred past the first generation. 

How Often Do Black Sex Link Chickens Lay Eggs?

Black Sex Link Chicken hens thrive at egg production and can produce about 300 eggs in a single year with proper care and if they are in good health. They start laying at 18-20 weeks on average, but have been known to start laying at 16 weeks or as late as 26 weeks. They usually maintain optimum egg development through about their fifth year, when they begin waning in egg production. Their eggs are brown.

What Kind of Health Issues Do Black Sex Link Chickens Have? 

Black Sex Link Chickens suffer from the same health issues that most other chickens endure. As far as external threats, ticks, mites, lice, worms, and other parasites are all dangerous to them. Because Black Sex Link Chickens are so important for egg production, you’ll want to minimize their potential danger. A great way to beat the bugs is by boosting your chickens’ immune systems with apple cider vinegar and crushed garlic. 

black sex link rooster in grass

Where To Find Black Sex Link Chickens?

Black Sex Link Chickens are quite a popular hybrid for their impressive egg production and good size for dining purposes. As a result, they are fairly easy to find in a number of commercial locations around the USA. 

  • Tractor Supply 
  • McMurray Hatchery, based in Webster City, IA
  • Cackle Hatchery, based in Lebanon, MO (Read our review of Cackle here).
  • Purely Poultry, located in Fremont, WI
  • Townline Hatchery, from Zeeland MI

A common question is “Are black sex link chickens and black star chickens the same?” – and it’s because sometimes, hatcheries want to distinguish their hybrids from other, similar, chicks. But ultimately, Black Sex Link Chickens and Black Star Chickens are the same. A simple way to look at it is to think of “Black Star Chickens” as a specific designer name for the hybrid. There might be some minor differences between the one and the other, but all Black Star chicks possess black as their primary color and can be sexed from hatching.

Why Mille Fleur d’Uccle Chickens Are The Best Pets

Why Mille Fleur d’Uccle Chickens Are The Best Pets

Thought about adding Mille Fleur d’Uccle chickens to your flock? Not sure if they’re right for you? Read on, and discover this wonderful breed!

The Mille Fleur d’Uccle is a small bantam whose heart is massive. It is a chicken who loves affection – and reciprocates. Their speckled feathering is lovely, and captivates all who look upon them. Unlike other breeds, people buy Mille Fleurs as pets. They’re very quiet and love cuddles. They’re the perfect size for small children. If you add them to your flock, they’ll bring great big smiles to your family!

What Does “Mille Fleur d’Uccle” Mean?

The breed originated in Belgium, and the name “Mille Fleur d’Uccle” has French origins. Mille means “thousand”. Fleur means “flowers”/ De and the contractive form d’ mean “of/from”. Uccle is a region of Brussels where this breed originated. So, the chicken’s name translates to Million Flowers from Uccle. How adorable!

Where Do Mille Fleur d’Uccle Chickens Come From?

These birds have quite the origin story! In the late 1800s, a Dutch businessman living in Belgium, Michael Van Gelder, set out to create the greatest chicken breed. By 1905, he’d reached his goal when he premiered his new breed at a chicken show – the Mille Fleur d’Uccle bantam. Soon, it’s popularity spread over the continent and into the UK. The USA followed soon after. The American Poultry Association added the breed to the Standard of Perfection in 1914.

What Do Mille Fleur d’Uccle Look Like?

They’re adorable! Mille Fleurs live up to their names – their red feathers are tipped with white and black. It looks like they’re covered in a thousand little flowers! They have a muff and beard which extends all around the head. They have feathered shanks, and the feathering can be quite impressive! Female Mille Fleur d’Uccle have very small or non-existent wattles. Both males and females have a single comb.
Hens and roosters are about 1 – 2 pounds. They’re a true bantam chicken and their small size very much reflects this. There is no standard size for this breed. Because they’re so tiny, they’re more susceptible to predators (especially rats). Keep this in mind when choosing a coop for them!
If you read my article about how chickens mate, you might plan to coop your hens with other breeds. Remember, these hens can’t have large roosters mating with them. They’ll get squashed!
These birds do well in cold weather. But because they’re small, you should shelter them from extremely cold temperatures. Keep them in a warm coop that’s are not drafty. In the summer, be sure to keep them in the shade as much as possible.

Personalities

This breed is perfect for any flock. Owners everywhere love these birds for their remarkably docile temperaments. The hens are very quiet. They’re fantastic around children, and will allow your child to hold them. They do well in small chicken coops, and are great for urban flocks. The hens aren’t very broody.
They don’t fly often, if their coop is welcoming. But if necessary, they’re great fliers. Larger birds have too much mass for their wings to carry them. Bantams have a leaner body that’s more suited to flight than many birds. But you won’t have to clip their wings – they tend to be homebodies. They sometimes roost in higher locations, but usually just a few feet off the ground. You might find your hens prefer roosting on swings! 

Are There Any Other Varieties?

Technically, no. The Mille Fleur is a type of d’Uccle bantam. If you flip through a hatchery catalog, you’ll notice their cousins:
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Buff
  • Golden Neck
  • Grey
  • Mottled
  • Porcelain
  • Self-Blue
  • White
The Porcelain d’Uccles are popular as well.

Are They Good Egg Layers?

Mille Fleurs are fair layers, mostly kept for ornamental reasons, and not for egg production. Hens lay about 160 small cream-colored eggs per year. Provide a safe nesting area, and you can expect your hen to lay consistently when she’s old enough. Your pullets will start laying when they’re about 6 months old.
mille fleur chicken hen

Health Concerns

Because of their leg feathers, they are slightly more at risk for mites than other chickens. You should take steps to protect your flock from mites.

Here’s Where To Buy Mille Fleur d’Uccles

  • Meyer Hatchery in Polk, OH, offers them throughout the year.
  • Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, IA, offer unsexed chicks throughout the year.
  • Hoover’s Hatchery in Rudd, IA, offer these chickens in minimum orders of 20 throughout the year.
  • Stromberg’s Chicks and Game Birds of Hackensack, MN, offers them throughout the year.
  • The Chick Hatchery in Lansing, MI, has availability from February through August.
  • From early February through mid-August, Cackle Hatchery offers chicks from their headquarters in Lebanon, MO.
  • Day-olds are available at My Pet Chicken based in Monroe, CT.
Bringing a Mille Fleur d’Uccle into your family is a great idea! They have fun personalities, and you’ll fall in love! (Not sure what to feed a bantam to keep them healthy? Read this article next!)
Worming Chickens: Ultimate Guide

Worming Chickens: Ultimate Guide

Wondering whether worming chickens is easy? What are some all natural options? In this article, we’ll discuss the type of worms chickens can get, why they’re so dangerous, and what to do about it! 

Think about it: A chicken mama walks into her hen house to collect eggs. She reaches into the first nest and frowns. The egg has an unusual covering of chicken poop. This is not a massive problem. It just requires some extra cleaning. 
On to the next egg. It’s plastered with poop. The farmer begins to suspect something is wrong. Then, onto the third nest, where the prize-winner roosts. She is neat and tidy, and never leaves messes on her eggs. But chicken poop also covers this egg, and there’s some long white strands mixed in. 
Something needs attention, and she wonders what’s going on with her beloved birds. The list possible problems is a short one, and the solution is actually quite simple. These chickens have worms, and they need a better worming regimen.

What Are Worms Exactly?

Worms are parasites that can create health problems in chickens. Worms can cause lots of health issues, such as:
  • poor nutrition (because the worms are stealing vitamins and minerals from your flock)
  • internal bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • flightiness
  • pale combs
  • poor egg production
  • bloody stool
  • vision problems
  • death
You might also notice your hen doesn’t want to forage, and prefers to sit quietly in a corner.

How Do Chickens Get Worms?

A flock of chickens goes foraging, and might stumble upon a big, thick slug. It is a treat to the bird, but this yummy snack hides something insidious: a parasite. Your chickens swallow this parasite, and it finds a warm, comfortable place to live out its life cycle.
Chickens can also pick up worms from the soil, either by stepping on eggs, or ingesting eggs from dirt. Wild birds visiting their poultry cousins can also be a point of infection. Additionally, one chicken can effect her whole flock, since the worm’s eggs might infect her feces. Other hens might pick them up when walking around (which is why it’s important to clean your coop consistently)

What Kind Of Worms Do Chickens Get?

Chickens can get a variety of worms, including:
  • Tapeworms (Davainea proglottina and Raillietina cesticullus)  
  • Roundworms (Ascaridia galli)
  • Hair Worms/Capillary Worms (Capillaria obsignata
  • Gapeworms (Syngamus trachea)
  • Caecal Worms (Heterakis gallinarum)
  • Strongyle Worms (Trichostrongylus tenuris)
Each worm species effects chickens in different ways. But all worms are detrimental to your birds’ health. Most worms fall into two distinct classes.
  1. Direct – a chicken picks up these worms by scratching or pecking through contaminated feces. They spend their entire life cycles inside the chicken. Very often the eggs of these worms drop out of your chicken; they are quite durable and can hibernate for up to a year. Then, when another chicken picks them up, they then hatch, often by the thousands.  
  2. Indirect – these worms inhabit things that your chickens might have foraged. They might be hiding inside slugs, for example. Then, inside your chicken, they find a nice warm habitat to live out their life cycle. Indirect worms need a secondary host, such as an earthworm, before finding their permanent home inside your chickens
The following types of worms can infect your flock:

Caecal Worm

These are light grey to white in color and shaped like the letter S. They can grow to about ¾ inch. Caecal worms do not always show any symptoms in chickens. But chickens suffering a severe outbreak of these worms may look depressed or look worn out. The worms live in the ceca and have a direct life cycle. 

Capillary Worms

These worms are so small that one cannot usually see them with the naked eye. They are also called Hairworms or Threadworms. They live in the crop, intestines, and ceca, but in severe outbreaks, they can also inhabit the throat or the mouth. These worms are usually found in earthworms and slugs. A chicken infected by capillary worms will be weak and anemic. Their comb will pale, and the bird might appear emaciated. They also might suffer diarrhea. Extreme cases can lead to the bird’s death. They have both a Direct and Indirect life cycle. 

Gape Worm

worming chickens with gapeworms

Gapeworms in poultry throat. Image from Wikipedia.

Gape worms are red, and grow to ¾ inch in length. A male and a female lock together, resulting in a Y-shaped organism. Gape worms inhabit the trachea and lungs. They feed on blood get from micro blood vessels.  The most common symptom is a shortness of breath, often accompanied by a gaping beak, stretching its neck, and head shaking. The chickens will cough and frequently gasp for air and may also have a reduced appetite. They are Direct cycle parasites. 

Gizzard Worms 

These worms are very thin and grow to about 3/4 inch. They’re uncommon in chickens (far more common in geese). Symptoms include:
  • anemia
  • weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • a sickly appearance (might include a hunched posture and sagging wings)
This can lead to death if left untreated. They have a Direct life cycle.

Roundworms

roundworms from chicken

Roundworms

Most common of the various worms that your chickens might contract. Roundworms are visible by the naked eye, and can reach lengths of up to 6 inches. Other symptoms can include:
  • Pale combs and wattles
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • stunted growth
Extreme cases can also block the intestines, which can kill your bird. The infected bird will shed the roundworm eggs in her poop. Another hen can pick up these eggs, which will hatch in the new hen. Round worms have a Direct life cycle.

Tapeworms

tapeworm chickens

Tapeworm illustration

Tapeworms are white, long, and flat. In chickens, they usually do not grow any longer than 13 inches. Segments of these worms can be visible in chicken feces – they look like bits of rice. Tapeworms live in different intestinal areas and feed on its host bird’s diet. As a result, the chicken will likely suffer an increased appetite, and will appear larger, primarily due to bloating. If a juvenile bird becomes infected with tapeworms, its growth could be stunted. Tapeworms have an Indirect life cycle; they need a host like beetles, earthworms, and other insects.

How Can We Protect Chickens From Worms?

Your chickens are very likely to get worms, especially if they live outdoors. This is a sad fact of life, but it is an important one. Stopping worms is not 100% about preventing worms from infecting your pets, but rather in minimizing the damageThe biggest risks are warm wet climates, and especially between late Spring and summer, when many parts of the USA endure heavy rains. Other areas of the country – the Pacific Northwest, for example – are ideally suited due to an almost year-round warm wet climate.
Worm eggs do not like extreme temperatures and go dormant in weather that is too hot for them or too cold for them. They are also averse to climates that are too dry to sustain them. To prevent a muddy coop, mix a good amount of stone, gravel, or having straight concrete flooring. This can reduce the number of active worm eggs in your flock’s home. 
Keeping grass short can also behoove a smart chicken owner. This helps to maximize the amount of UV light from the sun that reaches worm eggs. These eggs are particularly susceptible to UV light, and sunlight can destroy them. 
Be sure that your bedding is clean and dry. In wet weather, be sure to clean out your coop and chicken housing areas at least 2 to 3 times per week. If you use the deep litter method, and your chickens seem to constantly have worms, consider a different bedding option.

Should I Worm My Chickens?

Not sure if your chickens have worms? It’s easiest to collect some feces and take it to your vet. They can run tests to determine if and what kind of parasites your chickens might have. These tests are usually inexpensive. You’ll learn if your chickens actually need a worming regimen.
Worming regimens should not be year-long. You should do it only every so often (your vet can tell you how often). Parasites and chickens both can develop an immunity to the wormers. If this happens, it means you’ll have a harder time killing off this particular strain of worms. So, continuing to use it will have no effect. You can ask your vet about rotating options if you want to prevent worms. 

What Are The Best Wormers For Chickens?

There’s lots of opinions out there about what wormers are ideal. Some chicken owners might claim you only need natural solutions. Others insist that they are not enough. Ultimately, you should decide for yourself, using our list below as a set of options. Be sure to consult your vet as well. A list of some of the most popular options are below.

Flubendazole/Fenbendazole

In the United States, there aren’t any FDA-approved wormers for chickens. But elsewhere in the world, there’s pharmaceutical options. The UK has stringent standards when it comes to animal welfare, and Flubendazole is approved for this use. Since you can give it to goats, horses, etc, it’s worth asking your vet about it. If you can’t find Flubendazole, ask your vet about Fenbendazole. It’s a common medicine for goats, horses, dogs, cats, etc. Fenbendazole is usually sold in farm stores under the trade name Safeguard. Before proceeding, though it’s always best to ask your vet for dosage amounts.

Ivermectin

Like Fenbendazole, this isn’t specifically approved for chickens. But it’s safe for other species. It’s also proven effective. So it’s worth talking to your vet about it. You can buy it at any farm store.

Apple cider vinegar

This remarkable item offers many benefits, including deterring some worms. It is not a 100% guaranteed treatment, but it’s very cost-effective. It can also introduce healthy bacteria to your hens’ digestive systems. You can learn how to make it yourself here.

Garlic

Garlic is the wonder herb. You can add small amounts to chicken feed. It might help discourage worms from settling in the belly. It also can support healthy digestive systems. 

Chili/Cayenne

Worms dislike the spiciness of capsaicin, and will leave the host area. Like garlic, it discourages worms from settling in the digestive gut. 

WormBGone Nesting Herbs

There’s a long history of certain herbs “doing the trick” to keep parasites from bugging backyard chickens. WormBGone Nesting Herbs includes the best herbs! Made with herbs traditionally used to promote healthy digestive systems and prevent worms. This is an affordable option many chicken owners love.

Vetrx Poultry Aid

You can apply this natural wormer directly on the effected chicken or put it into their water or in treats. 

Durvet Ivermectin Pour On De-wormer

You can pour this wormer onto the infected area. It’s a topical anti-wormer.  

Fleming Wazine Chicken De-wormer

You can mix this solution into feed or water.

My Pet Chicken Organic WormGuard Plus with Flax Seed

This natural mix also claims to reduce odors and moisture in chicken coops. 
Internal parasites are a massive problem that can effect your birds at any point in their lives. And it’s not only their health at stake. Worming chickens can also effect your life. After all, a healthy, worm-free, bird will produce healthy eggs for consumption. 
Why Delaware Chickens Are Nearly Extinct

Why Delaware Chickens Are Nearly Extinct

Heard of Delaware chickens? Did you know they’re fast headed for extinction? For a chicken breed that was developed in 1940, the Delaware Chicken has the potential to be one of the shortest-lived breeds out there. So what is this breed, and why are they on the edge of extinction?

History of Delaware Chickens

George Ellis of Ocean View, Delaware is the father of this breed. He was looking to produce a fast-feathering bird that grew quickly – with the goal of promoting them in the competitive broiler market. As he experimented with a number of breeds and breed mixes, he stumbled upon the occasional Columbian pattern. He liked this barred spotting from the crossing of New Hampshire hens and Barred Plymouth Rock roosterse, and focused on developing stock so the color bred true. His “Indian River” chicken was the result. By 1952, when the Standard of Perfection recognized this bird, it changed its name to reflect its state of origin: The Delaware Chicken. 

For a time, this striking mostly white bird was primed for the spot of number-one broiler, but it soon lost any chance it had when Perdue (yes, that Perdue) made the Cornish Rock (and its crosses) the go-to for its industrial warehouses. By popularizing the Cornish Rock, much of the private love and profitability of the Delaware fell to the wayside. Its slow decline has persisted to this day, and in 2009, the American Livestock Breed Conservancy listed it as critical. However, thanks to some serious dedication, breeders have brought them up to the “watched” list.   

delaware chicken hen

By Linda from Chicago, USA

Why Should We Hope to Bring the Delaware Chicken Back?

For those for whom patriotism is important, the Delaware Chicken is distinctly American. Bred and raised in the USA, it never gained the traction needed to find itself imported to other countries. To this day, it can only be found in the USA. Delaware chickens are friendly, large, and excellent dual-purpose breeds. While they were originally not developed for small farms or private flocks, this hardy bird is an excellent egg layer, and a great addition to any backyard farm.

What do Delaware Chickens Look Like?

These are large birds that are mostly the purest of whites – except for their spotted banding of black at the backs of their neck and at the tips of their tails. This coloring is called Columbian, and it’s very pretty.  Roosters may even sometimes have the black barring on their wings. Their comb, wattle, and earflaps are a vivid bright red.

Their legs are equally bright, but yellow rather than red. The legs are clean from feathering. Roosters average around 8.5 lbs, and hens weigh in at 2 pounds lighter: 6.5 lbs. There are also bantam varieties that are 2 lbs(rooster), and 1.75 lbs (hens). Both varieties feather quickly and quick to fill out into a robust body. 

Delawares are friendly and easily handled. They are calm enough to be with children (under supervision, just to be safe). They are reported to be a very sociable chicken, who enjoy babbling to their humans. If you are looking for a super-quiet bird, they might not be ideal. That said, they are not super noisy, either – they are just very sociable. They are also quite curious and intelligent. 

Are Delaware Chickens Good Layers?

They lay between 100 and 150 large brown eggs per year. They might not be as good as championship egg-laying breeds, but they are certainly no slouch when it comes to egg productivity. They also have little interest in sitting on their eggs, and rarely go broody. For people looking to complement their flocks with a chicken that is very much “one of the girls,” Delawares are an excellent selection. 

Do They Require any Special Care or Housing?

Delawares are excellent in all climates, from warm to cold, so they don’t need any special housing – just predator safe coops and runs. These birds thrive in free-range settings, or pens that give them enough space to roam. If you do live in colder climates, spreading Vaseline on their combs could prevent frostbite on the coldest days of the year. 

Where Can I Buy Delaware Chickens?

This breed might be on the “watch” list, but they are still available at a number of retailers. The more people who raise Delawares, the less likely they will go extinct!

  • My Pet Chicken, in Monroe, CT,  has limited availability
  • Meyer Hatchery, in Polk, OH, offers them throughout the year
  • Purely Poultry, offers these fine birds and provides shipping across the nation
  • Murray McMurray Hatchery, in Webster City, IA, offers females, Unsexed, and male Delaware chickens. Murray McMurray also works closely with the Livestock Conservacy to repopulate at-risk breed.

Delaware chicken feature image courtesy of Josh Larios, from Seattle, USA

Raise Golden Comets For Lots Of Eggs!

Raise Golden Comets For Lots Of Eggs!

Golden comet chickens are not something that can be seen streaking through a dark night’s sky. It’s actually a hybrid breed that likely gets its name from its coloring, which ranges from a rich reddish orange to a light golden yellow. Of course, it could be a mix of that and the miniature comets that these hens release nearly every day – and by comets, I mean eggs. The Golden Comet is a chicken that’s one of the most prolific egg layers on earth, and a wonderful choice for anyone wanting to get more “butt nuggets.”

golden comet hen looking at camera

5 Amazing Facts About Golden Comets

  • You can tell right when they’re born whether they’re male or female
  • They’re fantastic layers of brown eggs – you can expect 5-6 eggs per week!
  • They’re very hardy, and do well in cold AND heat
  • They’re friendly chickens who will jump for treats!
  • Because they’re a mix between a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen, each individual chick can look slightly different.

Appearance

So, what do Golden Comet chickens look like? When they hatch, the females are a dark yellow, while the males are such a pale yellow as to be almost white. As adults, the hens are golden red in color with white highlights on their necks and backs. Roosters are white to white with light to dark red feathers on their shoulders. The red of their feathers is sometimes described as a cinnamon, and there is a bit of variety in their coloring. They have single combs. Their legs are yellow, and their beaks are a yellow brown. Mature females weigh four to five pounds. Mature Golden Comet roosters weigh six pounds. 

Golden Comets are Red Sex Link chickens, created by mixing a New Hampshire rooster and a White Rock hen. There are no other variants of Golden Comet chickens, but there are a number of other Red Sex Link chickens, including the Red Star, Golden Buff, Gold Sex Link, and Cinnamon Queen. 

new hampshire rooster in grass

New Hampshire rooster – the male line in Golden Comets.

Red Sex Link Chickens Vs. Other Breeds

Like other great laying hybrids, such as Black Sex Links, Golden Comets are sex linked chickens, meaning you can tell whether a chick is male or female as soon as they hatch. Chickens are notorious for their sexing problems – figuring out whether a chick is a rooster or a pullet is a hassle. It usually requires either vent sexing or waiting a few months (there ARE some tell tale signs earlier, but they’re not 100% surefire). When feathers start replacing the chick’s down, the job becomes a bit easier, but precious time is likely lost by this point. 

Breeding sex link chickens help to speed up this process. When they’re born, the males have different down than the females – so you can immediately tell who is a rooster, and who will lay eggs. Typically, these are hybrid birds that are a mix between two different chicken breeds – usually heritage breeds that have very consistent bloodlines. The most popular type of sex-link chickens are Black Sex-link chickens and Red Sex-Link chickens. 

Golden Comet Personalities

A lot of potential owners wonder “Are golden comet chickens friendly?” Golden Comets are very docile, as long as you’ve raised them to be people friendly. They don’t put up much of a challenge to owners and enjoy spending time with their humans. Sweet and gentle so accurately describe them, that they are even good with children. These birds are among the best layers on the planet, but they are not very broody. This actually works well – it’s pretty hard to collect eggs from a broody hen. 

Do Golden Comet Chickens Breed True?

It is impossible for Golden Comets to breed true. They are a hybrid chicken, which means that the traits bred into them through their two parent breeds might show in different ways – maybe with more white feathers, maybe a lighter golden chest, among other features. If they have offspring with another Golden Comet, their offspring will be as varied as the parents, and the result might even look nothing like either parent.

Are Golden Comet Chickens Good Layers?

Golden Comets lay brown eggs, and they’re so prolific (they drop between 250 and 320 eggs per year), that you can expect to have a fresh egg in your coop for every hen you have – almost every day. If you’re not planning on eating all these eggs immediately, having a suitable storage unit for them all is a must. Unlike other breeds, Golden Comet chickens are cold hardy (in fact, they do great with extremes of both heat and cold) and you’ll likely have eggs year round. 

What age do golden comets start laying eggs? Keep an eye on them, because when they hit 16 weeks, they just might surprise you with your first egg! (This article will tell you some tell tale signs your hen is laying).

How Long Do Golden Comet Chickens Live?

Like other chicken breeds, their life expectancy depends on the individual bird, and how well you care for them. If they have a good diet with a high protein layer feed, you can expect them to live quite long. However, some people have reported that their Golden Comets tend to die young – at only 4-5 years. This might be due to their prolific egg laying. It’s something to keep in mind when choosing this breed. 

Where Can I Buy Golden Comet Chickens?

  • Cackle Hatchery in Lebanon, MO, offers them from early February through the end of September. You can read our review of Cackle here.
  • Purely Poultry in Fremont, WI, also has seasonal batches of Golden Comets: 
  • Tractor Supply Co offers them
  • The Chick Hatchery of Lansing, MI, offers Golden Comets
  • The Chicken Outfitter offers Golden Comets in batches

If you’re looking for a hen that can bring in the proverbial bacon – as long as that bacon is really eggs – you will find no better chicken than Golden Comet chickens!