Below are some of the questions we are frequently asked and the answers we give. Many answers are opinion or experience based so the answer may vary some depending on whom you ask.
Q: Do all chickens lay eggs and are all "types" of eggs edible?
A: All FEMALE poultry lay eggs and the eggs from different types of poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants, quail, etc) are all edible.
Q: Do different types of eggs taste different?
A: Yes and No. All chicken eggs taste basically the same, however FRESH eggs do taste eggier and have a brighter colored yolk than store bought eggs. Store bought eggs can actually be months old and are often from over worked or "laid-out" hens. Waterfowl eggs do have a slightly stronger taste than chicken or turkey eggs and are preferred by some people and some cultures. Turkey eggs, due to their large size, are preferred by many traditional bakers for use in their baked goods.
Q: What is a Cockerel? What is a Pullet?
A: A Chick, Keet, or Poult is a baby Chicken, Guinea, or Turkey which has not been determined to be male or female.
A Cockerel is a young rooster (male chicken or guinea) before it reaches breeding age.
A Pullet is a young hen (female chicken or guinea) before it begins laying eggs.
A young male turkey is a Jake (same as a cockerel above) and adult male turkey is a Tom.
A young female turkey is a Jenny and adult female turkeys are hens just like chickens.
Q: What is "Straight Run" ?
A: Straight Run means As Hatched as far as the sex of the chicks. Straight Run normally gives you a 50/50 split in males and females, but not always. If we sell chicks Straight Run that are sexable by color, we use the look-away, reach and grab method to pick the chicks you will get so that we ae not influenced in our choice.
Q: How young can you tell the sex of chicks?
There is a saying, "It's not definite until it crows or lays an egg!," and in many cases this is true. Unless you are skilled at vent sexing chicks, determinig the sex of chicks is often difficult. Some breeds are easy to diferentiate males and females, some are usually easy, some it's an educated guess, and some it is just a guess!
The Easy ones: Some breeds/colors are sexable by the color of the chick. Such as Wheaton Ameraucanas or our Paint Leghorns and Silver Pencilled Rocks.
The Usually Easy ones: Some breeds USUALLY have a slight difference in the color or markings of male vs female chicks. In Dominiques, the males are usually lighter in color than the females. In Delewares, Light Sussex, Coronation Sussex, Copper Marans etc the males usually get their neck color earlier and faster than females. But NOT always!
The Educated guess: In some breeds there are very slight differences in the males and females, such as, tall vs squatty, head & tail carriage, etc. Being able to make an accurate guess based on these subtle traits takes time observing the breeds and knowing how your particualr lines mature. This is no where near 100% accurate but is often correct. This is the only way to tell on young Cochins, Ameraucanas, etc.
The Just guess: Some breeds like Buff Orpingtons are almost impossible to know for certain until they are nearly grown. It is often easy to pick out a few Definite Cockerels early, but the resy COULD be pullets or COULD be late developing cockerels. Until you can see saddle feathers*, hackle feathers*, or it crows then it isn't definitely male. And none are definitely Female until they lay an egg! (* explained further below)
Q: What about feather sexing?
A: Feather Sexing is determining sex by the speed of growth of certain wing feathers on newly hatched chicks. To be anywhere near accurate, it must be done day 1 to day 3 and does not work on all breeds. I have had good luck feather sexing most of our breeds, however, due to the time involved, and the need to then separate or somehow tag the males vs females I only do this when I have pre-orders specifically for pullets.
Q: Why do pullets cost more?
A: Pullets are "worth" more than roosters so if we sell chicks as pullets we charge more. Since most hatches are a 50/50 split and only 1 rooster is needed in a flock of up to 10-12 hens, that means there are 9-11 extra roos from each hatch. The price difference helps make up for the fact that we will not be able to sell the remaining roosters for more than a few dollars even if we incur the expense to feed them to eating size.
Q: So, what are Hackle & Saddle Feathers?
A: Hackle feathers are the long, thin, decorative feathers that Roosters grow on their necks. Saddle feathers are also long, thin, decorative feathers, that Roosters grow on the area just in front of where the tail meets the back. These feathers grow down the side of the bird, instead of pointing towards the tail like hens' feathers do, hence the name Saddle Feathers. This is often one of the first ways to pick out the Cockerels/Roosters in a batch of young birds that are otherwise hard to sex.
Q: If I don't want to hatch chicks, do I need a Rooster?
A: No, a hen will lay eggs whether or not you have a rooster. However, if they are going to be free ranged at all, a rooster is suggested. Why? He will alert the hens to danger and stand his ground, allowing the hens to hide while he faces the threat. Should it not end well, a roo is easier and cheaper to replace as an adult than a hen.
Q: So, when will my hens start laying eggs?
A: Normally, a hen will start laying at about 5-6 months old but this can be affected by many variables, including breed, time of year, even what feed she has been raised on. Chicks hatched in the Spring will usually lay before and during their first Winter where chicks hatched after June 1 will often not start laying until the following Spring when they are 8-9 months old.
Q: Ok, so all hens lay eggs but can all types of chcikens be butchered for meat?
Yes, but some breeds are more suited to be Meat Birds than other breeds. Cornish Crosses are a breed developed as a fast maturing meat bird. The flip side to this fast maturing trait is that they will Outgrow their bones' ability to support their weight and Must be butchered before they reach this point. Other breeds, such as Leghorns, were developed as Layers and do not have enough meat on them to be worth the effort of buthering them for anything but soup birds. Dual Purpose birds are just that: good layers and large enough to be used as meat birds.
Q: What is Broody? And do all hens get Broody?
Broody is when a hen wants to sit on eggs in nest in order to hatch them. A broody hen will stop laying and sit on a nest (whether or not it contains eggs), for the 21 days it typically takes chicken eggs to hatch. All hens CAN get broody but some breeds are specifically known to go broody much more easily and often than other breeds. Cochins and Silkies are known to be especially broody hens.
More will be added soon!