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Our original order with the hatchery was 25 female chicks.  For shipping purposes two extras were included to bring our total to 27.  (They want to ensure the chicks stay warm, and are packed tight enough that they don’t slide around during shipping).  Ah, but then there was the ‘bonus rare or exotic breed’ chick that they add to the order for fun and head-scratching purposes!

Our free bonus 'rare or exotic breed' chick

On March 29th, we received 28 chicks.  Ten were placed elsewhere, between two friends who wanted just a few hens for eggs, but didn’t want to have to take an entire order of 25 chicks (which is the average minimum shipment for most hatcheries).

That left us with 18.  Of those, we have three Partridge Plymouth Rocks.   However, and it really doesn’t matter if you have ever kept chickens, but do you notice something here?  One of these things is not like the other…

Partridge Plymouth Rock Pullet

Cock-a-doodle doo...I'm going to be a Partridge Plymouth Rock ROO!

I’m happy to say that I personally am not afflicted with ‘cankles’.  I can’t say the same for our future ROOSTER!  No strappy sandals for HIM this summer!

Our future Roo's feet (left), versus the more gracile feet of the pullet (right)

On the upside, we’re zoned agricultural, and our lot is large enough (and we’re rather centered within the lot) that hopefully our neighbors won’t be too annoyed.  I can hear a rooster up behind us, that most days, especially sunny days, crows from sun-up to sundown.  It’s distant enough to be charming.  I wonder if this rooster will be charming?

However, that mystery bonus ‘rare or exotic breed’ chick.  Remember that chick?  The one dubbed ‘Frodo’ for the rather fuzzy hobbit-like feet?  Mr. Hairy Legs…the goof-ball with the legwarmers?

Frodo's feet at four weeks

Frodo's feet at nine weeks

I’d been scratching my head recently for a female hobbit name, just in case (to go with those hairy feet)…but it turns out that I needn’t have worried.  We now officially have a Dark Brahma Rooster named ‘Frodo’!

Handsome Frodo - a Dark Brahma male at 9 weeks

Yep, rooster #2!  Well…actually, Frodo would say he was rooster number 1…’cankle roo’ was supposed to be a hen!

It’s not a big deal, except that two roosters…together, after about 4-5 months of age, can become a big problem!  Fortunately, we can either house one with our older hens…or even pen him up with the turkeys at night if need be.  We have room.  We just weren’t quite counting on TWO roos!

That said, if you ever purchase chicks, you do have to be aware that even the best hatcheries only guarantee 90% on sexing accuracy.  For 28 chicks…rounding up…that could potentially land us with THREE roosters for our order, statistically speaking.  It’s just good to be aware of that when you purchase chicks, whether from a hatchery, a feed store, or an advertisement from a local farm/breeder.  It’s not so much that the person doing the sexing of the chicks isn’t good at it.  There can be some ambiguity.  The chicks are 1 day old, and there is a lot of breed, and some individual, variability at that age.  Good hatcheries put the ‘I dunno’ ones in the rooster pile, some guarantee a lower percent.  Also know that a much greater percentage of roo chicks are culled in the first day or two.  The demand is for girls, not boys, thus we expected our ‘bonus’ to be male.

We’ve never had roosters here on the farm.  I rather like my sleep.  However, we’re somewhat looking forward to having them around.  For the Partridge Plymouth Rock, who in time will be very stunning in his coloration, it gives us the potential to breed pure Partridge rocks here at the farm, as we also have two pullets of the same breed, and it’s a somewhat uncommon coloration for this breed.

Frodo still has a LOT of growing to do

As for ‘Frodo’, well, heck…he’s an awfully handsome chappy, and I have to admit, I now rather wish we had a dark brahma female for him.  Of all our chicks, male or female, he genuinely has the nicest disposition of any bird we’ve ever had here at the farm.  I’ve never been fond of feathery footed chickens, mostly because I’m concerned with our heavy rainfall some years, that they’d turn into muddy-buddies out in the yard.  However, we’ve also never had Brahmas before, and now I see why some swear by the breed.  I’m genuinely smitten.  So far, Frodo has proven to be an unbelievably sweet bird who really loves to have the top of his head rubbed.

That said…’Frodo’ has been a bit of a trouble-maker lately, albeit it hasn’t really been his fault.  Remember some of the early video, where all the gals were dressed to the nines, and ‘Frodo’ clearly missed the ‘formal wear required’ on the invitation?  Well…

Two weeks ago, at seven weeks old, we turned all the chicks out in the main coop.  Two days later, I found ‘Frodo’ bleeding in the run.  I also found a Delaware and Golden Laced Wyandotte pullet repeatedly bashing poor ‘Frodo’s’ wrists, because the silly roo had no feathers there, and scraggy looking pin-feathers across his back.  Up to being out in the run, they’d all rather been alright with him.  But around 7 1/2 weeks the other chicks noticed that he was different.  Different to a chicken, is a reason to peck, and pick, vex, annoy, and otherwise cajole the one who is different.

Frodo doesn't look like the others, and for a chicken, it's not always good to be different

Any blood in a run, can insight a frenzy.  Believe it or not, when chickens see blood, at least for some, there’s something of a red-haze that comes over them, and you suddenly find yourself with a coop full of piranhas.  For ‘Frodo’s’ sake, I pulled him out.

I couldn’t take him alone, as chickens are social creatures, and become quite depressed if housed alone.  I grabbed a sweet little Black Australorp to be his room-mate, mostly because of all the breeds we purchased, these seem to be generally the least antagonistic.

So, Mr. Fuzzy Pants, ‘Frodo’, has been living back in the brooder box in the office ever since. We treated his minor wound, he scabbed over, and the scab is now gone.  Thankfully, as they were pecking at, and traumatized his feather follicles, the follicles now seem fine, and his feathers are starting grow in normally…very very very slowly.  Only slow because, well, he’s a Brahma! They take well over a year to mature…especially the males.

Frodo's back - So long as skin is showing, we'll leave him out of the main coop

I may overdo it here, but erring on the side of caution, I’m going to keep ‘Frodo’ separated for this week.  Once there’s no visible skin, which should be soon, I will try reintroducing him to the rest of the flock. Hoping that once he’s decent, and everything is covered, even if not fully feathered, that the girls won’t be so interested in picking on him.  With the knowledge that in a couple of months, either he, or the Partridge rooster, need to find alternative accommodation.

In the meantime, if you still need a baby chick fix, don’t forget to stop by Jackie’s Secret Garden…she just bought FIVE new baby chicks!