Spring Chicks

Sadly these aren’t our chicks, but my parents’. We only get to visit them, not raise them. They are Basque chickens originally from Spain, but now are slowly becoming a favourite of many Canadian farmers. They are only 2-ish weeks old so there is no way of sexing them, but hopefully the hens outnumber the cockerels otherwise it’s going to be a very loud summer.

First day outside and very confused.

The chick isn’t that heavy, it’s all the bling!

These tiny little bits of fluff and feathers are INCREDIBLY loud. It’s actually kind of ear piercing when they start up as a chorus. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of an all male group or we’ll be eating capon all summer.

New chickens have arrived!

It’s been a loooooong winter/spring without chickens. We got out of chickens back in the fall and focussed on quail over the winter. Now with a happy covey of coturnix quail outside laying, and a few button quail left indoors ready for sale, we decided on getting four more pullets. After some searching on Poultry Swap Ontario (great forum) and Kijiji, I found the birds we wanted.

I drove up towards Minto to meet with the seller and quickly got lost. Apparently, Google maps has their own names for streets that no other map references or person has ever heard of. With my phone/GPS having seizures on the passenger seat, I was forced to pull over multiple times to ask for directions. Each town sent me to the next town until I saw a sign for Walkerton, 5km. Realizing I was miles off, I rolled up the windows, lost my temper on the steering wheel and cussed until I started to feel better. Thanks to a man at an LCBO (I stopped for directions, not for a drink) I was able to find the farm two hours late.

Fast forward a couple days, a truck cab that smells like nasty chicken turds, and the calling off of my search party, the new ladies are happy at home in the coop. To make for a larger environment for the pullets, I put an addition on the run that also doubles as a potting table. Any dirt or plant matter that falls through the slats is quickly picked apart and devoured by the hens (in theory, not tested yet).

coop addition

The potting table opens up for access to the food and birds

We were lucky to have most of the materials, so total cost was about $25 and a few hours work. The neighbour even gave us free fill to level the bottom out.

The birds we bought are still “chicks” as they’re 10 weeks old. They will start to lay at 18-22 weeks old, so for now they’re just free-loaders not paying their rent. The birds are all New Hampshire X’s (meaning crosses, not exes) and should work out to be relatively good layers, but not to production standards.


Hiding from the sun and a decent photo

Each bird is the same breed, but there is some variation in colour. One of the birds is a third red laced, while the others only have hints. The black on the birds is interesting as it has a green iridescence to match the green in their feet.


“Yeeessssss? Can we help you?”

If anyone is interested in getting some of these birds, let me know and I’ll pass on the seller’s information (and some better directions).



Egg comparison

I was lucky enough today to be given four turkey eggs from our friend E. They are beautiful eggs and we can’t wait to eat them. Seeing as we have eggs from quail, chickens, button quail and now turkey, I thought I’d post a quick photo for comparison.



As of this morning at about 6.30, we are chickenless. Both remaining birds were attacked by a sex-link we had and had lost feathers in the process. The one bird grew everything back fine, but the other didn’t and got into a habit of picking herself. With a bare rump, she wouldn’t have made it through the winter, so she was dispatched along with her pal the white columbia.

Now the search is on for new birds, or we may wait until spring and get some eggs to hatch for our flock in our new incubator (apparently arriving by UPS today!).

£150,000 Chicken Coop

For anyone out there with a little extra cash who would really like to spoil their flock, why not splash out for a “Palladian-style hen house complete with hand-carved stone columns, English oak windows and topped with a Greek-style monuments.”

A British trader in England has done just that. After making £28M by predicting the economic downturn, he’s decided to treat his hens to a home the size of a two bedroom flat!

More information here:

Eating eggs is as bad as smoking

That’s what one researcher is saying. Now I wonder if I should have bothered quitting smoking as I still eat eggs.


EDIT: Apparently the science behind the study was a little suspect. Thanks to Jon F for the heads up. Hopefully no one got rid of their chickens after reading the first article.


Chickens decision delayed

For anyone following the chicken debate, we are still outlaws. Earlier in this year, the Licensing and Standards Committee in Toronto debated whether or not to read a prepared report on keeping urban chickens. They voted against reading it, which stopped the whole discussion in its tracks. It was quite a blow to all the chicken keepers here in the city that had real hope that they wouldn’t have to keep their flocks covertly to avoid prosecution and loss of their birds.

In March, Paul Hughes, a Calgary chicken keeper, went to court to argue that he should be allowed to keep his urban hens. The outline of his argument can be found here. Essentially, Mr.Hughes believes that a municipality shouldn’t be able to decide where we get our food from as protected under Canadian and international human rights laws.

The verdict was to be delivered last week, but as anything chicken-law related, it has also been delayed. Now we wait until September 14 of this year to find out. If Mr.Hughes is successful, his case may set precedence for the rest of us in Canada, making all of us outlaws, law-abiding citizens again. I guess we’ll have to find something else to rebel with if that happens. Backyard dairy cows? I’ll keep you posted.