Cackle Hatchery Review & Buyer’s Guide

Cackle Hatchery Review & Buyer’s Guide

On one cold, January morning, I received my catalog from Cackle Hatchery, and something stirred in me…..it was time to order baby chicks!

 

A lot of people who read this blog are just getting into backyard chickens, and aren’t really sure how or where to buy their fluffy butts. OR sometimes readers want a specific breed (which was my situation) and the only place to purchase those chicks are from a hatchery.

 

As a blog owner, my goal is to inform you, and help you raise your flock so they’re healthy. And that starts with getting quality chickens from a reliable source!

 

So, this article will tell you my experience purchasing chicks from Cackle Hatchery, and what you should know as a consumer so you get healthy chicks that’ll grow into happy layers.

 

After getting their latest catalog and happily thumbing through it, I decided it was time to bulk up my bantam stock here on the farm, as well as my colored egg layers.

 

I’ve purchased from Cackle Hatchery in the past (probably 2 years ago, when I got my Brahma hens and Jersey Giants – they’re still alive and healthy), and had a good experience. This supplier is also 4 hours from my farm, so the babies (in theory) wouldn’t have to go far to reach my home.

 

Read on, and discover my experience with Cackle Hatchery!

 

My Buying Experience

First, understand that this is just MY experience. Your mileage may vary, and this certainly isn’t the first (or last) time I’ve ordered from Cackle.

 

The Cackle Hatchery website is super easy to navigate. I had a hard time tearing myself away from the ducklings and turkey poults, but I headed over to the egg layer section of their website.

 

I knew the breeds I wanted: Speckled Sussex hens (I owned some before, and SUPER intelligent chickens), Silkies, Mille Fleur d’Uccle, Easter Egger bantams, Porcelain d’Uccles, and Black Copper Marans hens (I wanted some chocolate egg layers).

 

For this review, I purchased:

  • 10 Silkie Bantams (non-sexed, hatchery choice)
  • 5 Speckled Sussex Females
  • 5 Black Copper Marans Females
  • 5 Mille Fleur d’Uccles (non-sexed)
  • 5 Porcelain d’Uccles (non-sexed)
  • 5 Easter Egger Bantams (non-sexed)

 

I wanted some rare breeds from Cackle Hatchery, which is why I chose the Mille Fleur d’Uccles and Porcelain d’Uccles.

 

Remember that most suppliers, Cackle Hatchery included, don’t offer the option to purchase either male or female bantams. It’s harder to sex these chickens because they’re smaller, and the room for error is much larger. (You can learn how to sex chicks here).

 

So, I knew purchasing the Silkies, Mille Fleur d’Uccles, and Porcelain d’Uccles is a crap shoot. I’m fine with that. If you can’t have roosters in your area, though, it’s something to consider.

 

Placing my order was easy, and I feel the prices are fair (especially shipping. It only cost me about $25 for expedited shipping, although your mileage may vary).

 

All in all, my order cost $200, which included the shipping. I was happy with this cost.

 

Choosing a Shipping Date

Cackle Hatchery doesn’t have a system per se that allows you to choose a shipping date. Other hatcheries I’ve ordered from provide a list of dates, and you click a radio button to choose a specific date.

 

Cackle requests you put your desired dates in a text box, which was a little confusing at first. So, I put something to the effect of:

 

“Please ship the chicks during the end of May/beginning of July.”

 

Why this time frame? Because it’s warm enough so I won’t need a heat lamp in my cabin (where baby poultry live until they can go into a coop. You can find good chicken coop plans here), and not SO hot that the trip here will be miserable.

 

The folks at Cackle Hatchery ended up choosing the actual ship date: May 29, 2019.

 

In theory, I was fine with that. In practice, I wasn’t super thrilled: I didn’t realize the chicks would be shipped on a Wednesday for a Friday delivery because of Memorial Day (May 27, 2019).

 

Why is this a problem? Well, it only takes one dodo at the Post Office to mess up, and my fluffy butts spend the weekend in a cold building with no food, courtesy of the United States Postal Service.

 

We live in a remote area where mail CAN take an extra day to get to us. So, even though the Post Office guarantees a certain delivery date, sometimes, we get our mail a day later.

 

So, I would have preferred the babies to ship from Cackle Hatchery on a Monday or Tuesday. (In hindsight, I could have put that on my shipping directions, but it didn’t occur to me at the time – so, it’s something you should take into consideration. I’ll be doing it next time).

 

You might have a stronger stomach for these things, but I don’t! I worry about the chicks every step of the way.

 

Receiving My Order From Cackle Hatchery

As the shipping date approached, I notified my mail carrier that I’d be getting baby chicks, and asked her to tell me if they would spend an extra day at the post office before delivery (so I could pick them up early).

 

We know the post office staff here on a personal level, and they’re just as concerned for the safety of the animals.

 

When my bantams and full sized chickens shipped, I received an email notification from Cackle Hatchery AND the Post Office (I signed up for text alerts so I could monitor their journey).

 

It took 2 days for the package to get to my area, and on May 31, the chicks arrived! (By the way, US Post Office, that was the dumbest route EVER: Lebanon, MO → Kansas City, MO → St. Louis, MO → Cape Girardeau, MO → My local area).

 

My mail carrier texted me, and we agreed I would pick the package up at my local post office (rather than being delivered to the house) so I could get them into their brooder ASAP.

 

I wanted the chicks as fast as possible, and my mail carrier didn’t want to listen to chirping all day. I get it.

 

The box had a lot of air holes, was very securely taped, and had stickers informing the postal workers that there were live animals inside the box (in case the loud chirping wasn’t obvious). I was pleased to see a sticker that directed mail handlers to keep the chicks out of extreme cold and heat.

 

So, it’s obvious Cackle Hatchery does its best to ensure a safe arrival.

 

How Did The Chicks Fair On Their Journey From Cackle Hatchery?

I resisted the urge to peek into the box until the chickens were home. There was LOTS of loud chirping, which is a good sign.

 

Angry chicks = healthy chicks! What you DON’T want to hear is silence.

 

I’d already prepared the brooders, feeders, and waterers, so after I opened the box, did a head count, and checked for any casualties, everyone was ready to get into their new homes!

 

All the little ones arrived safely – there were no DOA. I’d call that a successful ship!

 

They were split into 2 different areas of the box, and they were wiggling, and ready to get out.

 

I was really pleased with my purchase!

 

Cackle Hatchery included 4 extra chicks to account for casualties, including 1 extra Speckled Sussex, and 3 others I can’t yet identify (a lot of chicken breeds look similar when young. However, they’re definitely bantam breeds).

 

We obviously had chick starter ready, and added apple cider vinegar to their waterers to help them establish good gut flora. (You can learn about the best chicken waterers here.)

 

But Are They Healthy?

The Black Copper Marans, Silkies, and Speckled Sussex in particular seemed (and still seem) very healthy. A good sign is when the chicks immediately begin seeking food and water, and they were VERY ready to feast!

 

The Mille Fleur d’Uccles and particularly the Porcelain d’Uccles seemed stressed and very confused, which isn’t a good sign.

 

As I opened the box, I noted that the Porcelain d’Uccles already were hunched, chirping loudly, and closing their eyes.

 

They were quickly put into their brooders and introduced to food and water, and given space and time to settle (sometimes, it’s just the shipping process that can cause stress, and when they realize they’re safe, they snap out of it).

 

As of writing this review, we lost 1 Mille Fleur d’Uccle and 3 of the Porcelain d’Uccles which I’m REALLY not pleased with (so, there’s only 2 Porcelain d’Uccles remaining from my original order) within 48 hours of receiving our order from Cackle Hatchery.

 

(Note: They do ask you to call in case of casualties within a 48 hour time frame so they can help you out. Because our chicks arrived on a Friday, I had to wait until Monday to call).

 

However, we haven’t lost any of the other Mille Fleurs, and they seem very eager to eat, interact with their clutch mates, and enjoy life.

 

It’s normal to lose some chicks, but the Porcelain d’Uccles seemed to struggle from the moment I opened the box from Cackle Hatchery (I inspect them before putting them into their brooder to check for heat stress, etc).

 

At the time, I wasn’t sure if it was stress or a health issue, but since the other chicks are doing well, I can’t really say why the Porcelain d’Uccles didn’t make it.

 

However, losing 4 out of about 40 chicks is pretty much to be expected, and I’m happy with the health of the remaining flock.

 

The box arrived with a free coop sign, a very useful pamphlet about how to care for my new pets, some stickers (which my kids loved), and a safety flier about avoiding salmonella, directions for washing hands after handling poultry, etc.

 

Would I Buy From Cackle Hatchery Again?

Would I order from Cackle Hatchery again? YES.

 

I think they’re a good quality supplier, and the Porcelain d’Uccles notwithstanding, the hatch I got arrived alive, and with most of the chicks in good health.

 

I got the breeds I ordered, and extras in case some chicks didn’t make it.

 

Their ordering process was straight forward, the poultry was reasonably priced, and the shipping process as simple and fast as possible.

 

If you’re a reader who wants to order from a hatchery, I’d recommend this one.

 

However, I think next year, I’ll drive out to Cackle Hatchery to pick up my order!

Brahma Chickens: What To Know Before You Buy!

Brahma Chickens: What To Know Before You Buy!

We own several brahma chickens, and they make wonderful pets who lay lovely brown eggs (we also have one that lays lavender eggs!).

 

In this article, I’m going to tell you everything there is to know about this breed!

 

While brahma chickens are known for growing into beasts the size of large turkeys, giving it the nickname “The Majestic One” by the American Brahma Club (1), and the equal honor of the “king of chickens” (2) the average brahma isn’t so large.

 

 

How Big Is The Brahma Chicken?

While this breed can be as tall as 30 inches (although this is rare and depends on the breeder), the average brahma chicken size is the same as other chickens. Even in our own flock, they vary in size, with one about 8 inches tall and another about 18 inches tall. Bantam brahma breeds are even smaller – about 6 inches tall.

 

How Long Does a Brahma Chicken Live For?

Like any other types of chickens, such as silkie chickens, araucanas, or speckled sussex chickens, brahmas can live 5-8 years, depending on the quality of care you provide. Providing a daily meal of 16% protein chicken feed, fresh water, a warm home, and veterinary care can extend their lives.

brahma chicken rooster with brown feathers

Are Brahma Hens Broody?

By and large, no. However, this will depend largely on the individual hen. Brahmas are particularly susceptible to broody behavior if another hen has decided she wants to hatch eggs, too.

 

Bea, one of our brahma hens, decided to go broody in her second year, and hatched a single chick. My other brahma chicken is a great daily layer, but isn’t broody at all.

 

If your brahma goes broody, it’s best to let her hatch her eggs (as long as they embryos are developing – candle them to find out). If the eggs aren’t developing, then remove them from the nest before they explode.

 

Are Brahma Chickens Good Egg Layers?

Yes! Brahma chicken eggs are a lovely brown color, and the hens lay consistently – up to about 300 eggs per year. The number of “butt nuggets” laid will depend on the individual, her diet, and the quality of her environment. You can improve the chances your chicken will lay if you provide her a secure home, a quality layer feed with 16% protein and plenty of calcium, fresh water, and a clean nest with nesting herbs.

 

You can see photos of brahma chicken eggs laid by our hens here:

brahma chicken egg

 

Do Brahma Chickens Lay Large Eggs?

The Brahma chickens lay medium to large eggs. The yolks are also large and delicious. You can improve the color of the yolks by adding herbs such as calendula to their diet.

 

What Color Eggs Do Brahma Hens Lay?

This chicken breed lays brown eggs, although the shade can vary from layer to layer. The chicken’s diet, stress level, and the weather can effect the shade of her eggs as well. When a hen is stressed, she might lay a lighter shade of brown, or the color might be dotted with white. If the hen’s diet is poor or the weather is very hot, you also might see different shades on the same egg.

 

How Many Eggs Does a Brahma Chicken Lay?

Approximately 300 per year, or 5-6 eggs each week. This number will vary based on her feed, her age, and the time of year. While brahmas do very well in the cold, hens don’t typically lay during the shorter days of the year (unless supplementary light is provided), or when they’re very young or very old. If the hen’s diet is poor, she won’t lay regularly, which will effect how many eggs she lays.

 

How Old Are Brahma Chickens When They Start Laying Eggs?

Typically brahmas start laying eggs when they’re 6 or 7 months old. However, it can take up to 12 months for the hen to start laying, particularly if she’s a larger hen, or if she matures during the winter months.

 

Are Brahma Chickens Friendly?

Yes, brahmas are very friendly, as long as you’ve raised them to enjoy the company of people (feed them lots of treats and they’ll be yours forever). They are quiet, docile, and calm birds who love to take treats from your hand and get cuddles. They get along great with other chickens, as well. The roosters aren’t prone to attacking humans, although this will depend on the individual rooster and the time of year.

 

What Colors Are Brahma Chickens?

There’s three colors of brahmas recognized by the Standard of Perfection: Light, Dark, and Buff. Each type is unique and very beautiful. According to the Livestock Conservancy, “Brahmas are large chickens with feathers on shanks and toes, pea comb, smooth fitting plumage with dense down in all sections, and broad, wide head with skull projecting over the eyes – termed “beetle brow.” (2)

 

The earliest brahma chicken colors – the light and the dark variants – were first included in the first Standard of Perfection of the American Poultry Association in 1874, while the Buff variant was added in the 1920s.

 

Where To Buy Brahma Chickens

There are several chicken breeder farms that selectively breed and raise healthy and quality Brahma Chickens. You can check them out here:

 

Cackle Hatchery

This is where we purchased our brahmas. They arrived safely and have been very healthy. Cackle Hatchery is family owned and located in Missouri. 

 

Purely Poultry

Purely Poultry is another family owned business. They have fair prices. 

 

Meyer Hatchery

Meyer Hatchery has over 35 years of experience. They offer over 160 breeds of poultry including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, peafowl and game birds. 

 

My Pet Chicken

This company has been praised by numerous publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, New Yorker Magazine, and has appeared on such television shows as The Martha Stewart Show, Bloomberg TV, ABC News Nightline, and The Today Show. You can visit My Pet Chicken here.

 

Private breeders nationwide

You can find a complete list of breeders (that are affiliated with the American Brahma Club) here.

 

How to Care For Brahma Chickens

Brahma chickens require daily feeding and fresh, clear water daily. As baby chicks, you should provide your brahmas a chick starter that’s 18% protein, as well as clean water. You can mix organic apple cider vinegar or apple cider vinegar granules with the water to promote good gut flora. You can read more about how to raise day old baby chicks here.

 

For hens, you should provide a quality layer feed with at least 16% protein and an extra calcium supplement to ensure strong eggshells. Adding herbs to her nesting box will promote laying.

 

If your hens are broody, be sure to keep a high protein feed and water close to her for easy access.

 

Brahma hens tend to be the favorite of roosters – keep a close watch on your hens to ensure they’re not hurt by roosters. If your hen has lost feathers due to roosters or if she’s molting, you can offer a high protein supplement to promote growth.

 

If you think your brahmas are sick, for example with sour crop, bumblefoot, or vent gleet, you can read more about how to care for them here.

 

References

  1. http://www.americanbrahmaclub.com/
  2. https://livestockconservancy.org

 

 

So, Is The Brahma Chicken Right For You?

Overall, the Brahma chicken is an ideal bird for you are considering of raising larger sized chickens. They’re very friendly, and lay nice, large eggs. Would you add them to your flock?

 




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Silkie Chickens: Pet Facts & Fiction

Silkie Chickens: Pet Facts & Fiction

Who doesn’t want to own Silkie chickens? They’re fun, sweet-natured, and they make you breakfast! In short, they’re the perfect pet.

 

Yep – you can definitely keep chickens as pets, and Silkies make GREAT pets, especially for households with children. I also know MANY seniors who keep Silkies because they’re easier to care for than a dog, and they’re great company.

 

For special needs children, Silkies can also be a great pet because:

 

  • They’re quiet
  • Submit to being held on laps (while other breeds of chickens will flap and squawk)
  • They look like fluffy balls straight out of a Dr. Seuss story, and
  • Their feathers are soft to touch – great for children with sensory issues.

 

In this article, you’ll find all the Silkie chickens information and facts you need to help you decide if you want to add them to your flock.

Silkie chicken pet facts and fiction
 

 

Silkie Chickens Information & Breed Characteristics

What are Silkie chickens?

 

Where do Silkies originate from?

Silkies are an ancient breed that has their origins in Asia, most likely in China. Because of their black skin, their Chinese language name is wu gu ji, which means “black-boned chicken.”

Marco Polo was the first Westerner to write about Silkies – and in his books about his travels on the Asian continent in the 1200’s, he referred to them as a “furry chicken.”  

Similarly, Renaissance writer Ulisse Aldrovandi referred to Silkie chickens as “wool-bearing chickens” and “clothed with hair like that of a black cat.”

As you can see, Silkies have made quite an impression on humans for centuries!

 

Why are they called Silkies?

They’re called Silkies because their feathers resemble the down on chicks – and it feels “silky.”

 

What do Silkies look like?

How big do Silkies get?

Silkies weigh about 2-3 pounds and are about the size of a Chihuahua dog.

 

What’s the Silkie breed standard?

When you think of Silkies, you probably think of the bantam size – and according to the American Standard of Perfection, the perfect size for a silkie chicken hen is about 2 pounds.

 

The American Standard of Perfection has very specific requirements for Silkies. The comb and wattles should be a “deep mulberry, approaching black” with a “Leaden blue” beak. The legs of both hens and roosters should be straight with no more or less than 5 toes.

 

What are their feathers like?

Funky feathers like fluff balls of joy! Silkies are a bit different than other chickens. Yes, the hens lay eggs, but did you know they also don’t have “normal” feathers like other backyard chickens?

Their feathers are similar to down, and it’s a bit like silk – hence the name “Silkie.” Because of their feathers, Silkie chickens can’t fly, but they do love to run for a treat!

Their feathers are structured different than other chicken feathers – they do not have barbicels, so they do not have the physical structure needed to allow Silkies to fly.

If you get Silkies for sale as chicks, you’ll love how they develop “Mohawks” when they turn into teenagers! It takes a while for the down to grow out to its full length, so there’s some lovably awkward stages!

 

Do Silkies have black skin?

Silkies are also well known for their skin – while most other chicken breeds (such as Speckled Sussex and Araucana chickens) have white skin, Silkies have black or even blue skin.

You might notice your silkies have blue skin, particularly on their ears! As they mature, you’ll also notice their combs and wattles have a reddish hue to them.

 

How high can Silkies jump?

Because they don’t really fly, silkies can’t roost like other chickens. So, they can only jump a couple feet at a time.

Do silkies roost? Well, they DO enjoy sleeping off the ground, even if they can’t roost up high.

You’ll want to give your silkies an easy way to get higher. We put bales of hay in our coop for the silkies to jump up on – and they can get 5-6 feet in the air easily.

How many toes do Silkies have?

Unlike other chickens, Silkies have an extra 1 or two toes on their feet! (Just like a polydactyl cat!)

The scientific reason is because Silkies have a genetic mutation that allows them to grow the extra toes. I’m not sure if it has much purpose out in the “real world” of the coop, but they sure do look cool!

 

What colors are Silkies?

Silkie chickens come in all sorts of colors, such as black, blue, buff, grey, partridge, white, cuckoo, lavender, red, and splash.

While the American Standard of Perfection doesn’t recognize all these colors, you should choose the color that’s right for you – especially if your keeping Silkie chickens as pets. After all, color doesn’t matter as much as temperament!

There’s also bearded Silkie chickens – which have an extra adorable tuft of feathers!

Silkie chicken pet facts for new owners

Do Silkies have feathered feet?

Yes, they do – and it’s part of their charm! In the United States, silkies are ornamental birds, so they’re bred to grow feathers on their feet. Most owners love it!

 

What age do Silkie chickens start crowing? Do Silkies crow?

If your silkie is a rooster, he should start crowing at about 7 months. However, not all silkies will crow. It depends on the individual chicken.

 

Our silkie roosters don’t crow or make much noise at all – which makes them ideal for suburban households that don’t want to disturb their neighbors.

What are Silkie chickens like as pets?

Do they make good pets?

Silkies make GREAT pets, especially for households with children. I also know MANY seniors who keep Silkies because they’re easier to care for than a dog, and they’re great company.

 

Are Silkies good with children?

YES! Silkies are quiet birds who enjoy human company. They’re more willing to be held than other chickens and will put up with small children and fast movements more than other breeds.

 

You can see our chicken breeds for children recommendations here.

 

Why do people keep them as pets?

Silkies can also be a great pet because:

  • They’re quiet
  • Submit to being held on laps (while other breeds of chickens will flap and squawk)
  • They look like fluffy balls straight out of a Dr. Seuss story, and
  • Their feathers are soft to touch – great for children with sensory issues

 

Are Silkies friendly?

Yes, especially if raised as pets from birth. They’re quiet, and when they’ve bonded to their human, they often follow their owners around. Many seniors keep silkies because they’re friendlier than other chicken breeds and enjoy being around their humans.

 

How long do Silkie chickens live for?

Silkies, like other chickens, can live for 4-8 years, when kept in ideal conditions and fed correctly.

 

To give your silkie the best quality of life, you should keep them in a coop with fresh water and plenty of high quality feed.  You should also give your pet chicken medical care when needed and herbal supplements to support her health.

 

Buying Silkies

How much is a Silkie chicken worth?

Whatever someone will pay for it! Most Silkie chicks that are sold as pets cost less than $5 – and you might find them at your local farm store for less.

 

Silkies that are show quality might cost hundreds of dollars, while ones hatched at a high quality breeder might cost less.

 

Where can I buy Silkie chickens?

Hatcheries, your local farm store, or private breeders. See our list here of where to buy chickens.

 

When you buy them, look for the extra toe – that’s a pretty good indicator the chicken actually is a Silkie. You should also bring a knowledgeable friend who can help you select chicks that appear healthy.

 

We’ve had good luck finding them at farm stores like Tractor Supply.

 

General Care

How long do Silkie chickens need a heat lamp?

Approximately 16 weeks of age. Like other chicks, Silkies need their brooders to be between 90-95 degrees for their first week of life (and reduce the temperature by 5 degrees every week.)

 

If it’s warm in your area, your Silkies should be fine once they can handle temperatures of 70 degrees.

 

If it’s cold, and your Silkies are under 16 weeks of age, you might need to supplement with a heat source until they’re older. We don’t recommend heat LAMPS because they can cause fires. We’ve used heating pads and been okay.

 

Do Silkie chickens need a heat lamp during winter?

Not generally, although this will depend on how cold your area gets. They’re generally fine in temperatures as low as 0 degrees.

 

In colder temperatures, you might have to provide a heat source. If you have just a couple, the easiest and safest way to ensure they’re warm is to bring them in at night. They’ll be fine in a dog crate.

 

Heat lamps are dangerous and can ignite a fire, so we don’t recommend them.

 

Can Silkies stand cold temperatures? Are Silkie chickens cold hardy?

One thing to watch out for is caring for Silkie chickens in winter – because they don’t have regular feathers, they can’t “fluff” them like other chickens to keep warm.

 

Just keep an eye on your fluffy butts and if they seem cold (or if it’s going to be very cold in your area), give them a way to stay warm.

 

They’re generally fine in temperatures as low as 0 degrees. It’s extremely important to make sure your silkies aren’t outside when it’s cold and wet – in freezing rain, for example.

 

Because their feathers are finer, they won’t stay as warm as other chickens. Freezing rain, sleet, or snow can turn deadly for your Silkies – so in inclement weather, leave them in their coop.

 

Do Silkies get along with chickens?

Yes – even though they look different, Silkies are quiet flock members, and get along well with other chickens.

 

Because they’re docile, you might find your Silkies are picked on more than your other flock members – just keep an eye out, and separate if any issues arise.

 

How do you introduce Silkies to an existing flock?

Just like you would any other chicken – by letting established flock members see their new friend without touching the Silkie.

 

Then, after 48-72 hours, you can try to integrate the Silkie with the rest of your flock.

 

You still might see squabbles, but as long as everyone is healthy and not hurt, they will stop in a couple days.

Feeding Silkies

What do you feed Silkies?

Silkies eat the same feed as regular chickens – a high-quality layer feed (for hens) or a high quality chick starter (for baby chicks). They don’t need any special feeds.

 

For treats, you can feed Silkies mealworms, herbs, kitchen scraps, leafy greens, black soldier fly larvae, or river shrimp.

 

Do they eat a lot?

Silkies are smaller chickens, and they eat less than standard size breeds. They still should be fed about 1-2 cups of feed daily – and you can feed them leafy greens, black soldier fly larvae, herbs, mealworms, and other treats to boost their diet. This is also a great way to bond with your silkies!

 

Silkie health issues

You might read on the internet that Silkies are more disease prone than other breeds and you should get your Silkie chickens vaccinated – I have not experienced this, and I would venture to say that Silkies are a hardy breed.

 

Silkie Eggs

What color eggs do Silkies lay?

They lay off white eggs or cream colored eggs.

 

How many eggs do Silkie chickens lay? Do they edible eggs?

They lay 3-4 times a week – so they’re not the champion layers of the backyard chicken world, but they have other qualities to make up for it!

 

Do Silkies like to hatch eggs?

Yes! Many people keep silkies because the hens “go broody” and want to hatch eggs – any eggs!

They’re wonderful pets that look funny and make great companion chickens for children and adults. They’re friendly, calm, and love human company….that is, unless they’ve decided to hatch eggs!

Yes, Silkies tend to “go broody” more than other breeds, and many people keep this breed of chicken specifically to incubate eggs on their farm. Now, this isn’t a guarantee your hen will want to hatch chicken eggs!

 

How many eggs can a Silkie hen sit on?

As many as she can fit under her! The amount will depend on the size of your fluffy butt.

Hens prefer to sit on an odd number of eggs – it’s not unheard of to see silkie chickens sitting on 11 or 13 eggs!

How To Raise People Friendly Chickens

How To Raise People Friendly Chickens

Who doesn’t want to raise people friendly chickens?

 

If you’re keeping backyard chickens, it’s pretty likely you’re also keeping them as pets. Yeah, yeah, they lay eggs, and that’s great, but they also make great pets, right?

 

Which means you likely want to raise people friendly chickens. And luckily, that’s a pretty easy thing for anyone to do.

 

It’s also pretty important if you have children – NOTHING is worse than a rooster who flogs your kids, or pecks bloody holes into you when you enter their coop.

 

While the rooster is just doing his job, it’s also no fun to get beat up just for feeding your flock.

 

So, in this article, I’m going to show you how to raise people friendly chickens so you can have a flock that’s fun and enjoys your company as much as you enjoy theirs!

 

Start with a breed that’s known for their friendly nature

Yes, it’s true that any chicken can be a lap chicken. We’ve had plenty of chickens of various breeds, and whether you can raise people friendly chickens with them largely comes down to how they’re handled and their individual personalities.

 

But like dogs, some breeds of chickens have a tradition of being raised as companions to people, and so are MORE LIKELY to become your best friends.

 

The list of breeds below isn’t comprehensive; it’s just to get you started!

 

Silkies

Silkies are well known for their friendly, docile natures. They’re also great chickens for children because they put up with being held better than other breeds. (Read more about Silkie chickens here)

 

Speckled Sussex

These backyard chickens are so beautiful, and full of personality! They have brave natures, so they’ll readily come up to people while other breeds will shy away from human company. (Read more about Speckled Sussex chickens here)

 

Polish Bantams

Like other bantams, polish bantams are gentle and more willing to be held than other breeds, They also look adorable with puffs of feathers on their heads!

 

Cornish Crosses

I seem to be alone in this opinion, but I think Cornish Crosses are great chickens as pets. They enjoy human company and being held, and love just sitting and watching the world go by.


We’ve kept quite a few Cornish Crosses as pets, and they’ve consistently been great family members. The only drawback is they tend to have heart issues, and don’t seem to live as long as other breeds.

 

Rhode Island Reds

If reared as pets, Rhode Island Reds are great for a starter backyard chicken flock. They have friendly natures.

 

We used to have one hen named Daisy. She would do the “submissive squat” to indicate she wanted to be picked up and held. Such fun!

 

Araucana & Ameraucanas

Both of these breeds are friendly, and lay blue eggs! Araucanas originated in Chile, while Ameraucanas are a hybrid breed created in the United States.

 

You can read more about araucana chickens here.

Raise your flock from the time they’re chicks

It’s simpler to start from scratch when trying to raise people friendly chickens than try to retrain a hen that’s had little human contact.

 

So, if you want your chickens to be members of your family, it’s best to get them when they’re chicks, and consistently interact with them.

 

Now, there ARE exceptions: We’ve had hens we rescued from battery cages, and they made GREAT pets.

 

So, in some cases, rescues will learn to enjoy human company and being spoiled, especially after they spent their lives being shut up in less than pleasant surroundings.

 

But to be on the safe side, it’s easier to start with chicks and train them to enjoy human company.

 

Spend time with them, make them your friends, and establish yourself as flock leader

To raise chickens that enjoy human company and being handled by people, it’s crucial to spend time with them and make them your friends.

 

If they don’t know you well or aren’t sure about your role in the flock, they’ll avoid you.

 

It’s also important to let them know you’re the flock leader. The flock leader keeps them safe, shows them where food is, and keeps them comfortable.

 

Spend an hour or so every day with your flock, give them treats, and play games with them. They’ll love it!

 

Lots of treats!

Yep, it’s true. If you’re the “bringer of treats,” you’ll always be popular.

 

Offer your flock treats from your hands, and spend time talking with them and bonding with them as you indulge them.

 

The more you do this, the more your flock will make positive associations with you, and begin to regard you as their “Fearless Leader.”

 

Get to know their own quirks and what makes each one unique

Getting to know each individual chicken is important. You’ll get to know what makes each one unique, and what might help them bond with you.

 

Does your chicken love black soldier fly larvae? Or is oregano the key to their hearts? Does fast movement scare them? Do they liked to be picked up a certain way?

 

Knowing these individual preferences will help you help them stay comfortable in your presence!

 

Limit foraging and keep ‘em well fed. Be their food source

To raise people friendly chickens, they need to know people are their friends. And it helps if your flock understands you’re their food source.

 

If your flock has to forage for food, they essentially have to fend for themselves. This leads to mistrust – they don’t know what to make of you, so they avoid you.

 

In other words, they go wild.

 

Now this isn’t to say foraging is bad. Quite the contrary – it’s a normal and healthy behavior.

 

If you want to raise healthy people friendly chickens, then allow your hens to free range, but supervise their free ranging, and spend time with them as they forage.

 

Offer them treats at the same time so they recognize you’ll always be there with a meal.

 

You can make a game of it by scattering treats around and let them “hunt” for their dried insects!

 

Learning how to raise people friendly chickens is easy – and get ready to have some new best friends!

What’s Owning Speckled Sussex Chickens Like?

What’s Owning Speckled Sussex Chickens Like?

Who doesn’t love a gorgeously feathered egg laying breed like Speckled Sussex chickens?

 

Speckled Sussex chickens are so much fun to own! They have wonderful, inquisitive, and “big” personalities, not to mention the beautiful “speckles” on their feathers!

 

Ours will willingly sit on our laps or take treats from our hands – they’re the perfect “pet” chicken!

 

If you’ve been considering adding a Speckled Sussex hen or two to your coop, then read on to learn all about this wonderful breed!

speckled sussex chickens are fun to own

Speckled Sussex Breed Characteristics

Sussex chickens have historically been raised as a dual purpose breed (for both eggs and meat), although many people today raise them as beautiful pets. There’s a standard-sized chicken and a bantam variety (can you imagine how adorable the bantam variety is???)

 

This breed of chickens, as it exists today, has been around since the mid-1800s, and originated in the county of Sussex, England, hence the name of the breed.

 

While each color variety has its own individual influences, the Sussex chicken is largely influenced by Brahmas, Cochin, Dorking, among other breeds.

 

Roosters can weigh up to 8 pounds while hens weigh about 6 pounds.


Have a hen that loves herbs? (Who doesn’t?!)

nesting box herbs

Yes, my hens love herbs!


Colors

While there are three different color varieties of the Sussex chicken that are recognized by the American Poultry Association, the speckled coloring is the oldest.

 

Speckled Sussex hens have reddish brown feathers (which is referred to as mahogany) with black and white “speckling” which gives the breed its name. Each feather has a white tip, and the amount of speckles varies from chicken to chicken.

 

The roosters can have green in their feathers as well!

 

In Britain, 8 color varieties are recognized, including the Coronation Sussex, which was developed to celebrate the coronation of Edward VIII (who abdicated the British throne, and so the coronation never took place).

Eggs laid per year and color

Speckled Sussex hens lay about 260 light brown eggs per year, and are consistent layers. The size of the egg depends on the hen; ours lay medium-sized eggs.

 

To ensure your Speckled Sussex hen lays healthy eggs, be sure to feed her a good layer feed and provide plenty of calcium supplements!

 

You can also add herbs to her nesting box to help her feel comfortable laying.

 

Brown speckled sussex chickens eggs

What its like owning a Speckled Sussex

Speckled Sussex chickens are wonderful to own! They have “big” personalities, and ours are at the top of the flock. They’re curious, the first to check out new situations, love environmental enrichment, and are intelligent pets.

 

Speckled Sussex chickens love attention, and love being at the center of action. If you add one to your flock, you’re sure to have hours of fun watching her interact with other chickens and beg you for treats!

 

To ensure you have a pet chicken who enjoys human company, it’s important to handle them frequently when they’re chicks and spend a lot of time feeding them treats if you want lap chickens.

 

They don’t require special feed, are docile, and the hens don’t get very aggressive during brooding. The roosters are equally a joy to be around!

 

Where you can buy Speckled Sussex chickens

You can buy Speckled Sussex chickens at any major hatchery. They’re a very popular breed! Cackle Hatchery is where we purchased ours, and they were healthy and happy when they arrived!

 

If you do go to a breeder, be sure to print out this article and take it with you so you can be sure the chicken you’re looking at is a Speckled Sussex!

speckled sussex chickens


Have a hen that love herbs? (Who doesn’t?!)

nesting box herbs

Yes, my hens love herbs!