Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another Chicken Dilemma

So my chicken raising plans have changed yet again. This time it's because my husband seems to have developed an allergy to the egg whites of duck eggs. At this point we don't know if he's also allergic to chicken egg whites (or even if the yolks are also a problem) but for now we have to assume that is the case. It makes raising egg laying chickens a dubious proposition.

I could still go with buying only those Cornish X's, those are the chickens that have heart attacks before the age of 3 months (they should be processed before then) but what fun is having a bunch of birds for a couple months and then killing them all? What would I need a coop or hen house for? And where would I put all the frozen carcasses? I would have to buy another chest freezer.

So it makes more sense to find another kind of meat chicken, one that I could keep year round and cull a few now and then. It also makes sense to find a bird that doesn't lay hundreds of eggs per hen per year. (I suppose I could just buy cockerels (those are males for the uninitiated) but do I really want to hear 20 roosters crowing every morning? Do my neighbors?

I came across a chicken called the Dark Cornish which apparently those Cornish X's are bred from. It's a good forager, is not a great layer of eggs but the hens can be good setters and mothers. There are other tidbits of information I came upon but that's enough for this post. Also, I stumbled across another intriguing bird called the Buckeye, developed by a woman in Ohio at the start of the 20th century. A sweet bird that almost went extinct. Currently the Dark Cornish is easier to acquire, so at this point that is the way I am leaning. Besides, the Buckeye is cuter and perhaps harder to kill? I read a post somewhere where a kid said the Dark Cornish look like feathered dinosaurs. It's an apt description. But even if they're uglier than the "regular" chickens, I think I'll still let my husband "do the deed." For now anyway. I find lots of things other people deem ugly as cute.

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