What Breeds?

Most hatcheries require a minimum of 25 chicks for an order. I wanted chicks, but not that many. Many of my old hens have stopped laying and I wanted young birds to fill the nesting boxes with eggs. My friend Ken, who lives a mile up the road, also wanted to replenish a flock that saw serious losses due to hawk predation (a problem now mostly solved with netting and restricted free-ranging.) So, we decided to share an order. Each of us have our favorite breeds, and we also wanted to try new ones. He wanted Dominiques. I don’t like rose combs. I wanted Delawares, he wanted Buff Chanteclers. We both wanted Speckled Sussex and Rhode Island Reds.

The box of twenty-five chicks arrived yesterday. Two little yellow chicks were dead on the bottom of the box. My guess is that the box tipped while in transit, the chicks piled up, and the two died. Sad, but it happens.

I had the pleasure of all 24 chicks (there was an un-asked for extra, and it better not be a roo!) for most of the day. Ken arrived after work. He still had on a white shirt and nice shoes. We don’t see clothes like that much around here. But, he’s a dirt under the fingers sort of guy and squatted next to the brooder without even a glance at the dust. This is why we’re friends.

It was time to sort the chicks. It was obvious which were the Speckled Sussex. They look like chipmunks. Ken was to have 3, I’d keep 2.

Look at those adorable fluffy butts. But, wait, what about that darker one? The sixth stripey chick with the solid brown head? What the heck is that? We decided to ignore it and divvy up the yellow chicks. According to the photos in the on-line catalog, my Delaware chicks were supposed to be yellow with faint dark markings on the head. There were a slew of peeping yellow chicks. Some had paler yellow heads. None had spots. Okay. So. Maybe it’d be easier to sort out the Buff Orpingtons from the Buff Chanteclers. Nope. All yellow.

Chicks should come in boxes like chocolates, kept separate in little dividers, with a diagram to the varieties.

We divided up the order as best we could. We’ll let the chicks grow for three weeks, at which time we should know how badly we messed up. We might trade them off again. Or not. If he has all the Rhode Island Reds that’s fine with me. Ken is adamant that he doesn’t want Buff Orpingtons. I’ll take those. But, if there’s a rooster, he’s keeping it!

(The breeds that I hope I have in my brooder are: 2 Delawares, 2 Welsummers, 2 NH Reds, 1 Rhode Island Red, 2 Buff Orpingtons and 2 Speckled Sussex.)


  1. So sad that they didn’t all make it alive to their destination.

    I have 3 Speckled Sussex (along with 3 Pekin ducklings) that I got at the Tractor Supply Store here in Virginia. Unfortunately they were from a straight run batch but I decided to take my chances anyway-suckered by their too cuteness! After I got home with them I happened to find out that some chicks/breeds can be feather sexed. So I tried with mine and came up with 2 cockerels and one pullet..they are now about 7 weeks old and all 3 are CROWING! I’m still hoping that one is a pullet.

  2. Just dropped into chick cam – they are busy little fliff-balls but their wing feathers are growing already.

    And was that your hand?!


  3. Glad to hear that the 2 NH Reds survivied. If the extra chick is a rooster will your neighbor end up eating him ?

      • Could the chick that was included for free be a sex link ? Or have y’all figured out what breed it can be. If you ever visit backyard chicken forums, one of my favorite forums is trying to figure out what a chicken is by breed or gender. I espically love the crossbreeds, and you get so many combanations. And I never realized how many people would find stray or abondoned or even baby feral chicks all over the country. Seems some of the nicest roosters were strays that came to stay.

  4. I have 2 Welsummers this year, my first of this breed. They are very mellow compared to my others. I think I’m really going to like them. I got 4 Golden Sex Links because I do not want or need another rooster. My Hannah has gone broody and I’m not taking any chances…last year 2 of 5 were roos. I need to read your suggestions for breaking a broody hen because she is collecting other eggs and breaking some of them. The yellow evidence is on her beak! Have fun.

    • Good to hear about the Welsummer. My sex-link was a lovely bird.
      Not good when they break eggs. Leads to egg eating which can be a capital offense. No cure. But, you also might want to up everyone’s calcium. If eggs are breaking the shells might be thin. Check my blog archives. I’ve a number of posts about this. I’ve got pics of the crate I use to break the broody cycle. The trick is to get them off the nest and lower the body temp.

      • Thanks Terry. I moved her last night and now it seems her sister, Lena, is acting a little broody. Ack. The shells seem hard enough, but I think she’s collecting eggs from the other nesting boxes and possibly breaking them in the process of moving them. She’s not even a year old so I’m surprised she’s broody already, but maybe age has nothing to do with it? I’ll keep an eye on the shells for thinness, thanks:-)

  5. When I first had chicks I would get the daylights scared outta me when they would walk and then just fall over in a dead sleep! I saw a couple of yours do that this morning! At least I know know it is just baby chick stuff! Love the analogy about the chocolates with the dividers…with the breed stamped on their little fluffy butts?

  6. Nothing cuter than a fluffy baby chicky butt, unless they have pasty butt :-(

  7. Hi Terry, I know that you said those are Speckled Sussex, but I have 2 that look ALOT like them, and they are supposed to be Amerucanas???

  8. By the way, what breed is that gray chickie on the cam? Or do you not know?

  9. Do you feed your chicks medicated starter? I just got 2 buff Orpington’s, 2 Americana’s,2 light Brahma’s. They already had little wing feathers when I picked them up. I suspect they were a few days old. I’m also wondering if and when I can introduce other foods.

    • I don’t use the feed with the coccidiostat. I’ve never had a problem with coccidia here, so I know that although there’s surely some of those protozoa lurking, the load is low. The chicks should develop immunity to what little is here. If I see any signs, though, I have no hesitation to use drugs.
      The chick feed is balanced for proper growth and has the right amount of protein. 99% of what they take in should be the feed. But, mine have already caught and eaten bugs flying by their lamp! In another week, on a sunny day, I’ll let them out a bit. Gradually get them used to the germs here, and to start eating bits of grass and dirt, etc. I wouldn’t feed them any scraps, like I do the big girls, though when they get bigger it’ll be good for them to be out and finding bits of things outdoors.

  10. Irresistable!!! I hatched two chicks last year and they turned out to be 2 of the biggest, most handsome roosters I have ever seen! As I couldnt keep them I found them a farm home on Exmoor where they now have lots of ladies to look after – rooster heaven!I will enjoy watching yours grow

  11. How were you able to get Welsummers? I ordered 4 and Meyers told me they didn’t have well so I had to choose other breeds. I really wanted this breed. I got 2 golden buffs, 2 gold laced wynadottes, 2 partridge rocks, and 2 black austrolops