Raising Cornish Cross Chickens


The Saxonies were not successful mothers this growing season so we do not have much poultry in the freezer. To correct the shortage I ordered 20 Cornish Cross chicks from a local chicken and turkey farmer. Following the management advice of Kelli and Andy at Chicken Thistle Farm our chicks have eaten yogurt, clover and grass clippings along with their feed in the brooder and when we moved the chicks into the chicken tractor some of their wood shavings bedding went with them. While in the brooder I also added dirt to their salad plate. Within moments of moving to the tractor, the chicks were avidly pecking the grass, flipping dead leaves and flitting from one end of the pen to the other.

These birds are a test group as well as adding to the freezer. I am keeping track of all expenses so that I know exactly how much it costs to raise a batch of meat birds with organic feed from Paradise Valley Organic Farm, located only 12 miles away. Since the Cornish Cross chickens gain so much weight so quickly, I am happier using organic feed. Buying local products when possible is another goal of our farmstead,too.

Chicken is not a fovorite meat on our table so I am not sure how many we will be raising in the future. Next year I will be giving my broody Buckeye hens, duck eggs to help our Saxony production and hopefully fill the freezer with delicious dark meat. But for this season, I am feeding during the day, moving the pen regularly and will probably be very ready for the October visit to the butcher.

The geese are released from the poultry pen

I have moved the geese from the poultry fenced in area. If they can stay out of the non-farm areas, in the pastures and under the apple trees of the orchard, they can graze to their hearts content. I will probably try to herd them into the poultry enclosure to keep them safe at night since they will probably not bed down within the protection of Murphy's braying.

The Buckeye's 5 chicks are hale and hearty. I have introduced a nipple waterer with the hopes that as they grow they will use it in the large coop later. I have had little luck in introducing it to the older Buckeyes in the eggmobile. The two broody Buckeyes are sharing a nest of large eggs, hopefully we will have chicks soon.

Ducklings hatching

Yesterday I moved 13 duck eggs form the incubator with the egg turner to the "hatcher".  The Hatcher is just another styrofoam incubator with no turner. For duck eggs I add extra water and a wet sponge to keep the humidity high enough for a duck hatch.

When transferring the eggs two showed signs that hatching was imminent. The first duckling hatched yesterday afternoon. I was able to watch the second duckling hatch this morning. Hatching is strenuous. This morning's duckling worked through yesterday to crack around the circumference of the thick duck eggshell. Once free of the shell, the duckling flopped, rather violently, around on the hatcher floor, getting his/her webbed feet flat after the confines of the egg. In a natural hatch earlier hatchlings rest under the duck until all ducklings are hatched then the babies are on the ground, discovering food, water and shelter under the direction of the mother duck. I believe that only the strongest ducklings survive the hatching process which makes sense when recalling that in a natural hatch hatchlings are so quickly in the world.


Beautiful morning


Chores were a pleasure this morning -- sun is up, light breeze blowing,and pastures are lush. While I was bottle feeding Vanna the February lambs and their ewe, Queen Mab, ambled up to sniff the process. The Saxonies also came up to investigate, most likely wondering when their water and grain would be refilled. Under the last setting goose I can hear the chirps of goslings. Hopefully she has a few to add to the gaggle.

The four steadfast Buckeyes remain on their nests. If they successfully hatch chicks I hope to use the best chicks as replacement hens, to sell if I can find buyers for this heritage breed and to butcher for tender fryers.

Saxony Ducks working for the farm

The meat ducks are moving through the front yard, leaving behind rich fertilizer.  I move the pen once or twice a day.


The breeding flock has been moved to the orchard where they can search out grubs and worms. I put them in the coop at night for protection and so the eggs I collect are clean.

Three goslings are two, waiting on the third


The geese wander the orchard, hissing at anyone wishing to see the goslings. The second setting goose abandoned her nest once the goslings were active. I believe her overprotectiveness killed the third gosling. The third goose is still setting on her nest, hopefully she will have results this week. 

Buff Goose successfully hatches


Yesterday between rain, snow and wind I checked on the geese.From the field I spied a yellow gosling peeking out from under the wing of the first of three setting geese. At this point I do not know how many eggs hatched I since the gander is so protective and I do not want to agitate the geese. The nesting box is constructed from metal roofing panels set on a wood frame and back wall. The goose fashioned her nest from loose hay and down. The gander, always watchful, is especially defensive during breeding and nesting season. Unless cornered, he does not hiss threateningly with an undulating neck, as he does in this picture.


on 2012-04-28 02:50 by Vivianne Lapp

THREE! She hatched three.

Wild hen hatched another clutch


This Dark Cornish x Brown Leghorn hen lives a wild life on the farm. In the winter she does not seek the comforts of barn or coop yet at least once a year she hatches a clutch of eggs.  Last year her nests were in the poppies and the pole beans. This year she successfully hid her nest under the goat manger. Since her chicks grow to become wild chickens, scratching in the garden, I have moved the hen and chicks to the A-frame coop in the vegetable garden.  

Duck pen clean up


Yesterday I moved the March ducklings onto grass and cleaned the barn pen. The elevated, welded wire floor pen keeps the ducks cleaner than bedding alone but they do make a smelly mess.


This trio of ducklings are almost ready to move into the cleaned barn pen. The coop brooder has a heat lamp for cold nights and wood shavings bedding. The waterer rests on a grate in a feed pan to catch splashed water.


This male duckling was hatched naturally in January. To avoid fighting with the other drakes I paired him with a duck in a separate pen. Yesterday I moved the pen into the vegetable garden.