When I first moved up from South Carolina, I remember one of my friends asking me what I loved best about this area and my answer, honest to God, was tossing chickens. I was living with my sister at the time and she had a nice sized flock, about 6 Ameraucanas & 5 Speckled Sussex. I’m not sure if I had ever seen a chicken in real life before, much less held one or gathered eggs. The flock lived in 2 chicken tractors and she would let them out into the garden to free range. They, of course, would fly over the garden fence and we would chase them down and toss them back into the garden. I swear they loved it but who knows? They were never quite accepting of me (unless I came with treats) but they would follow my sister around and come when she called. It was awesome and the eggs, well as they say, there’s nothing like a fresh egg!
Sam and I agreed that we would get chickens next spring but then my sister told me she was getting rid of one of her tractors (here’s her blog post about building it) AND that Tractor Supply had Ameraucanas (which they NEVER carry, special order only)…so we decided to go for it! On March 10th, we brought home 6 beautiful Ameraucana straight run (fancy chicken talk for too young to sex) chicks. Let us commence the introductions!!
First up is Oscar Goldman. When we decided to get chickens, Sam said the only stipulation was that he got to name one Oscar Goldman after the chicken from Trailer Park Boys. (Here’s the episode if you’re interested.) Oscar was the last chicken we picked out at Tractor Supply. He was chosen for his cute black spot on the top of his head.
Left: Oscar is on the left. Days Home: 2
Right and 2 below: He’s always been one of our more adventurous birds. He slightly spastic and loves to stir up trouble, often waiting until all the other chickens are just about asleep to get up and walk all over them. He was the second to be able to fly to perch on the side of the bin. I personally feel like he lorded it over the other birds 🙂 Tail feathers came in fast. Days home: 9As Oscar grew up, Sam noticed that he wasn’t quite able to close his beak all the way. It seemed like the top beak was curved so much the bottom beak had to sit open. I, of course, panicked and started looking online.Found out it’s called scissor or crossed beak and most forums just cull those chicks out when they are born but Oscar didn’t show signs of it when we first got him and I wasn’t quite sure if he even had the same thing. This post, from the Chicken Chick, convinced me that it is indeed scissor beak but gave me hope too. Her chicken lived 4 years, perfectly happy and was put to sleep because she got cancer not because of the beak. Oscar is one of our favorites, such a personality, and I didn’t want to cull him. Plus, at this point we still weren’t sure if Oscar was a hen or not and I definitely didn’t was to cull a hen! I was worried that there was something I could be doing but, since there wasn’t, we settled in to wait it out.
Here’s Oscar at 3 weeks. As his feathers grow out, the black spot is spreading out to cover his whole head. We’ve also noticed some greenish hues in the tail feathers so we’re thinking Oscar is a rooster. His beak is growing well. There is a very slight shift to the left on the bottom so it still looks like a very mild case of scissor beak.
Our original plan for if we got roosters went like this.
1 rooster= awesome! keep for protection and breeding
2 roosters=good. keep one for protection and breeding. process 1 in the fall.
3 roosters= okay. keep one for protection and breeding. process 2 in the fall.
4 roosters= dang. 5 roosters= cry. 6 roosters= never get chickens again. If there were multiple roosters, we planned on keeping the least dominate for breeding.
Well, the problem we have now goes like this…Oscar seems to be sitting second in the pecking order. This could be because A) number one is a rooster (most likely), B) Oscar is smallish and has a genetic defect so is falling below a hen (I could just be hoping here), or C) the chicks are still working out the pecking order (maybe). However it falls, it stinks because we can’t breed Oscar since the beak is genetic. So we would have to either get another rooster from our 6 (boo!) or breed the most dominate rooster…not ideal but acceptable. Well, there is one other option…Oscar is the only rooster, we keep him and just don’t worry about trying to hatch out chicks with this batch. That would be awesome but, for now, we’re settling back in to wait some more…