CW: harvesting animals
This spring we hatched out a few dozen chicks. And when you hatch out a few dozen chicks, it is inevitable you will get some roosters.
We hatched out these chicks with the intention of testing our roosters genetics. And in about a month the ladies should start laying and I will finally know – does my rooster carry one, two, or NO copies of the blue egg laying gene? I bought these chicks as “purebred” wheaten ameraucana chickens. When they arrived, there were issues, not the least of which is that one of the hens started lay BROWN eggs, which mans she carried NO copies of the blue egg gene. Given that these birds are supposed to lay blue eggs, and blue is a simple dominant, there’s a real chance that the rooster could carry any mix of blue egg genes too. That’s a problem. Purebred Ameraucanas are not only supposed to be blue egg layers, they’re supposed to all have two copies of the blue egg gene so that every Ameraucana lays blue eggs every time.
So we hatched out a group of chicks from brown eggs and one group from blue. If our rooster produces any brown egg laying chicks, we know that he carries only one blue egg gene. If he can’t produce any blue egg laying chicks from the brown eggs he has NO blue egg laying genes and needs immediate replacement. If every chick lays blue eggs, he has two copies and is a good to keep long term. The chicks are still only 14 weeks old, so we have some time still on that. About a month, I suspect.
But these boys… Oh boy. When you start to get several cockerels (roosters under a year) in one place at one time, all growing up together, they get a little noisy. The first crow was weak, warbly, and barely heard at 10 weeks.
Then by 12 weeks we had two crowing. And they would go back and forth. A decision was made to eat them ASAP. We can’t have that much noise. So we set about putting together our new chicken plucker I got for Yule this year from my MIL. She’s a wonderful lady who helps enable my animal habits with really nice equipment. Each year I try to limit my requests to one large item and always get more than I expect. This year is was a full Yardbird chicken plucker.
Upon assembly we discovered missing parts, which the Yardbird facility immediately shipped out. But they got caught up in COVID delays. So they finally arrived this week and we set to work.
After much fiddling, we finally got it running, the hose hooked up, and now at long last we are cockerel free. Instead we have several delicious whole chickens, resting in the fridge, ready to eat once rigor passes.
These are the cleanest plucked chickens we’ve ever had. The plucker did a great job, and it was fast. No more hand plucking! Never ever again if we can avoid it! We did two at a time and it was over lickity split.
The bad news is these chickens are just about the smallest bird this monster of a plucker can manage. These chickens processed out to 2lbs or so each and it still dislocated the occasional ankle or hip joint. It would never handle, say, a quail.
We may end up getting a cordless drill plucker if we do get quail in the future.