How to make chickens

Look what I made!

Look what I made!

As I started the incubator last week for the first hatch of the season, I thought I would write a bit about what I have learned over the years about hatching and raising chicks. Last summer, I had a major flock-growing season, so I am pretty good for layers at the moment- I may hatch 10 or so for myself to replace some of the old girls, but this first batch is for our good friends at Ngeringa winery, who want to add more chickens to their vineyard pest control flock.

Making chickens is by far my favourite farm activity. I love little peeping chicks; I love broody, clucky mother hens. I love the signals she gives them as she teaches them to be chickens- observing this relationship resonates with my primal soul. As a human being, I think that you cannot help but be moved by the clear display of attentive motherhood in another species. Unless there is something wrong with you, of course.


Better to Die Than Not Live Free

I am the boss!  When the boss isn't around!

I am the boss! When the boss isn’t around!


I have 2 flocks of heritage layers on the farm,

one in the vineyard and one in the main farmyard near the house.  In the farmyard flock I have mostly Australorps, one lovely old Araucana (Evita, who still lays straight through winter), one old light Sussex (Maggie, who spends a lot of time sitting under the lemon tree and it is not clear if she is still laying or not) and a variety of cross breeds.  In this flock, I have had a series of big, strapping Australorp roosters, first Rocky, then Gunther, and now Guntherson.

For the last few years I have gotten fertile eggs from a great breeder in Flaxley, a guy who always gives me super fresh eggs with a great hatch rate and gorgeous birds.  2 years ago, I bought a dozen barnevelder eggs to add something different, and much to my surprise 2 of the chicks hatched with feathered shanks.  Instead of 12 Barnevelders, I got 10 and a bonus 2 Marans.

At hatching, I slipped the babies under a waiting broody hen, who then expertly raised them up until they were fully feathered and integrated into the flock.  But then of course the day arrived when there were too many boys in the house and they needed to be moved out to go to their ultimate fate- into the freezer.

© Copyright Tansley Farm - Designed by Pexeto