Dream birds for a feast

mamanbabiesWhen I was a little girl, I always thought it would be wonderful to have a pet duck. I loved watching the ducks in the small town where I grew up in Mexico. Then, when I was 13, an Otomi lady gave me a duck egg with instructions on how to hatch it. Unfortunately, my parents were less than thrilled with the idea of my hatching a duckling as a pet. So, after having duck egg for breakfast one day, I brooded for a few years.

Fast forward three years to when I’m sixteen. My family is now living in the state of New Jersey on a 4 acre piece of land. We have a couple of horses and my father was looking at getting chickens. I told dad that I still wanted some ducks. There are some advantages to keeping ducks.

  • Ducks are delicious.
  • They lay eggs that are much larger than a chicken egg but the eggs taste about the same cooked.
  • Some breeds of ducks such as the Muscovy which was what I wanted, are excellent mothers. I’ve frequently seen Muscovy hens with 20 ducklings.
  • Ducks eat bugs and small snakes. I have seen them catching types of flies that bite before and I’ve also seen them successfully catch mosquitoes to eat.

My dad agreed to let me get some ducks. We found a farmer who had a whole hatch for sale. I forget how many ducks we brought home. The particular strain of Muscovy that we bought was bred by the French particularly as an gourmet eating bird. To this day, we still keep descendants of those ducks that I waited so long to get. We eat a lot of duck during the year. Be forewarned though, Muscovys are the rabbits of the bird world. You can start out with just a few and have over 200 in a few years if you don’t eat them, or sell some off.

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Chicks on the farm

baby buckeyeThe other day, I heard a noise as I got home from work that made me smile. We have an incubator in the house, and there was a soft cheeping coming from our incubator. We raise Buckeye chickens and we just had a hatch of chicks. It’s always so much fun to have chicks around.

baby buckeye
A buckeye chick

We started out with Kraienkoppe chickens originally because we wanted a hardy bird that would free range well and raise it’s own babies. We also wanted something that was a Heritage breed and not commonly raised by most people. Not many people have them.

Kraeinkoppe mama
A kraeinkoppe mama with a bunch of babies. Notice how uptight she looks. She’s watching for trouble.

However, we found that they can be a little too good at taking care of themselves. The Kraienkoppe is HARD to catch. So, we decided to do a little more research. We found the Buckeye which is easier to catch but not quite as good at self protection. However, since we have Anatolian cross livestock guardian dogs, animals don’t usually catch our birds.

Buckeye hens and rooster
A buckeye rooster with some of his hens

The Buckeye is a fairly large bird that produces both lots of eggs and meat. It is a good mama and usually raises a large clutch. They have large bodies that produce a lot of meat, and there isn’t hardly a mean bone in a Buckeye’s body. My family often has families with small children come to visit our farm and we’ve never had a Buckeye rooster decide to be mean. That was a downside to the Kraienkoppe. The roosters could decide to act like fighting roosters even though they aren’t bred to be fighters.

Kraeinkoppe rooster on watch
Kraeinkoppe rooster on watch

The positive to the Kraienkoppe was that it would successfully raise lots of babies. They were phenomenal mamas. We had one Kraienkoppe mama who hatched out 16 babies during an ice storm. She didn’t lose a single one of them. They also lay a lot of eggs and  they are experts at not becoming lunch for predators. The other plus is that it is hard to find a prettier looking chicken if you like a classic old style looking bird. The roosters are stunning!