Definitely ready to lay

Egg laying in the shipping crate

It’s back-to-back chicken stories, from chickens to the slaughter to chickens ready to lay! The hatchery moved up the scheduled delivery of the 20-week-old Shaver Red Sex-Links by three days, and today was it. These girls are cool, and ready to go, dropping a couple of eggs before they were even out of their crates…

Layers ready for pick-up

At the feed store in town, the crates were casually stacked near the loading dock (and you can see MORE BAGS OF FEED waiting to be picked up, these are 88lb sacks of layer mash). Our 25 were in two crates.

New layers and chicken supplies

Like any other trip to town, on this chicken run, I ended up with lots of extra stuff besides chickens: several blocks of compressed shavings, the layer feed, and a sack of scratch for the Frey’s dual purpose.

Layers unleashed

Back at the farm, I opened one crate at a time and let them come out on their own to explore their side of the Chickenhouse. The young ladies seemed happy, unflustered, in fine feather… Within a few hours, I collected the first three, still tiny, warm, fresh eggs! Felt great!

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11 Responses to “Definitely ready to lay”

  1. Alex says:

    This whole chicken process is new to us and sounds much the same as what you are doing. I didn’t know you could order anything but new chicks. How Cool. Check out our latest adventure. Thanks  Mainelyewesfarm.blogspot.com

  2. Random Reader says:

    I went to bed dreaming about buying chickens for meat after reading about your experience.  I have been pacing the  house waiting for MY FIRST egg.. My Rhode Island reds are exactly 16 weeks old on the 3 of July and no eggs!!!  I almost fell off the couch when I read you got eggs already!  Wow! lucky you.  I live in Georgia where it is hot so that may slow my girls down…. 
    I love you blog.
    PS Are you using Organic feed?  I did buy some from a place in Virginia (a pallet) but have not been able to find any locally.  I always get “that look” when I ask if they carry organic chicken feed.  One guy said. “well it is corn”.  UHHH ok thanks.

  3. Annie says:

    Your hens look a lot like mine, I think mine are called HyLine Brown…also a Sexlink. That’s great that you are already getting eggs!

    I check out your blog every morning, you put so much Useful info on your posts…is always great to read what you are doing! We live in BC…if you’d like, stop by our blog and check out what we have been up to….we raise pigs, hens and Cornish Giant meat birds….as well as a large veggie garden….

    http://countrylivinginacariboovalley.blogspot.com/

    Annie

  4. Anita says:

    I’m so envious! I live in Greensburg, Kansas, which is rebuilding as a green town after an EF-5 tornado last year, but there is still a “no chickens” law on the books… so I can’t have any ! :(
    I love your blog, btw – it’s one of my favorites!

  5. Joanne Sedore says:

    I hate for my first post on here to sound negative but those aren’t Frey’s dual purpose. What you have there are Columbia Rocks crossed Red, a layer breed that won’t get over 4 lbs or so. I have them as well. The Frey’s dual purpose hens are a soft red, while the males are white with  soft gold trim on their necks and tails. Check the Freys catalogue, they have photos of each breed.
    Other than that, this is a great blog. I check it every day.

  6. Ashley says:

    We’ve got those birds.  As per a previous poster, they’re the Columbia x Red.  

    I HATED that they came debeaked, so shitty.  We’ve had ours (4 of them) for a couple years now and they still lay 3-4 eggs per day, even throughout the winter.

    Our Frey’s dual purpose are gearing up to put their heads on our special log with the nails in it soon.  Thank goodness.  I love raising chickens, but man am I happy to see them go.  

    We have raised white rocks & the dual and we prefer the dual.  While the WRs do grow fast, they just didn’t seem like chickens.  And we had more culls with them too, they just couldn’t carry their weight.  Having healthy, but maybe a little bit smaller Frey’s birds, who ALL made it to our freezer and acted like a chicken should won out for us.
    :)

  7. cathy says:

    again i have to come to the defense of the white rock chickens….. we raise a large number of them ….. we grow all the feed for them (certified organic)..my husband mixes the rations ..adds in organic mineral mix…they are on pasture … which they do very willingly if they start out as 2-3 week old chicks.
    they do grow quickly ( good feed conversion) but the end result is what our customers want.
    maybe i need to take a picture to put it on the blog.

  8. Mike (tfb) says:

    Joanne: I wouldn’t turn to me first for ID-ing chicken breeds, still, I’m usually pretty accurate with my info. I’m not sure which chickens you (and Ashley, in the comment after yours) are referring to, the new layers (Shaver Red Sex-Link), or the remaining meat birds, pictured in the yard at the top of yesterday’s Chickens to the slaughter post? The layers look to me just as they do in the catalog photo, not at all like the Columbia Rock X Red from the Frey’s catalog, which are white with colored markings. About half of the dozen Frey’s Special Dual Purpose males that’re here (10 ordered plus 2 extra they sent) are all-white, with a golden collar, as in the catalog photo. The rest have dark/black tail feathers, side markings and collars, similar to the CRXR, but the feathers around the neck are pattened differently. I wondered about this, but figured it was just variation in the results of the cross-breeding (like, from what I’ve seen here, crossing two breeds of goats here doesn’t result in uniform offspring…), and the Frey’s catalog (where would be without it :) says that some of the Frey’s Special may have dark markings. Anyhow, I’ll give Frey’s a call to double check, just in case…!

    Ashley: The beak trimming (de-beaking, blunting) is definitely off-putting, but of course that’s the only way the ready to lays come from Frey’s. Some of them look odder than others, where their beaks are more blunted. I dunno about this. I read a bit about…blunting, it’s done on hatching and apparently doesn’t cause pain (?), and it’s also apparently quite necessary to prevent fighting, leading to chicken death and cannibalism. Also, hens can get a taste for cracking their own eggs to eat (again, so I’ve heard!). I asked Bob about this, and he said they used to…blunt their 200-300 layers here on the farm. Another consideration is that, for orderly egg production, keeping the hens in the chickenhouse seems like the thing to do, so you aren’t collecting eggs from all over the place in the field and can control their protein intake so they’re not filling up on grass and not laying well, and also to make controlling light easier if you want to keep production going if your days get short towards winter: when they’re always indoors, closer together, there’s more chance of bullying and pecking order fights… FINALLY, there are some distasteful-sounding bits of livestock care that just seem to be part of farm life, like castrating bulls (have you seen a surgical steel…nut-crusher ;), and sawing off horns (a fine-blood-spray event as I’ve seen it)… We’ve domesticated cows and chickens in the first place, we’ve kinda molded them no matter what… So, I dunno, pin-pointy beak or blunted beak, is that just an aesthetics thing, or chicken torture, or part of preserving essential chicken-ness and food quality? How far is it from beak trimming to the battery barns? Right now, I’m watching and learning…

    cathy: I remember your previous comment, and it’s the strongest of several similar ones (that I’ve heard and read elsewhere) in favor of the WRs. I’m definitely going to try them again, probably starting with day-olds, and give them less of an easy ride to start with (make sure they can get out early, another farmer said she let’s ‘em out at 1-2 weeks). I’m also curious about the Frey’s result, though, if the males will get anywhere near to 8lbs in 15-weeks as advertised. The ones here have been out running around for a few weeks now, and they hardly eat any of the feed in the feeder in the chickenhouse, so I’m not sure how much the free-ranging is affecting their growth, compared to keeping them confined and EATING…

  9. Amy says:

    It’s funny that chickens can be attractive, but those are some pretty hens! Enjoys the eggs!

  10. Joanne Sedore says:

    I have a three of the Red Shaver hens, same age as yours. I am getting 3 eggs a day from 3 hens and they have a tiny little bantam boyfriend to keep them company. I have 15 WR, lovingly referred to as the “slugs with legs” They are halfway to heaven now and I will process them myself here on the farm. My production cost right now is $4.30/bird. I start with dayolds and have had good luck this year since the weather has stayed cool. I have the columbia rocks x red as well, which are the white birds with the black markings. I ended up with 2 roos and 4 hens out of 6 chicks.  I ordered all pullets. You could slice bread with the breastbones on these birds. They won’t bulk up, but the roos make a dandy pot of soup.
    Freys may have messed up your order, it happens.

  11. Charles C. Garretson says:

    Where can I buy grown female black sex link chickens only 3-4 to live in urban environment in Pensacola Fl.
    Thanks,
    CCG

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