Warning! This post contains chook-talk. Not much of it, as I am not the resident chook fancier of Milkwood, but still a bit.
In short, we have started breeding Blue Langshans, a heritage dual-purpose (ie good eggs and good eating) chickens, hopefully in quantity. Wish us luck.
The video above is our latest hatching of Blue Langshans (Langshan = Wolf Mountain in Chinese) happily exploring their nursery with their adopted mum (an araucana). We’re now using the Geodesic Chook Dome as the chicken rearing area, and it’s working really well.
Blue Langshans are a heritage breed of chook originating in the (wait for it) Langshan district of China. They’re good winter layers, great eating, resilient, and Nick (the resident chook fancier) is a bit of a fan. So we’re experimenting with breeding them up for a pastured poultry operation.
The breeding program is a pretty simple setup – the Blue Langshans (2 hens and a rooster) are in their own chicken tractor, and each day their eggs get collected. These eggs then get turned once a day until the next chicken in the main straw run goes broody, then we separate her off to a comfy hideyhole within the geodesic chook dome, stick a bunch of Langshan eggs under her, and leave her be.
And 20-ish days later, we get a clutch of baby Blue Langshans! Hooray!
So far, the various broody chooks on farm have far out-performed the neighbor’s incubator, in terms of getting us from egg to baby chick. We’ve tried both methods, but the broody chooks seem to be winning…
We’re not quite over-run with them yet, but it’s an experiment, as we’re not gearing up for major poultry production just now. We’d like to avoid cross-breeds or hybrids for our future chicken operations if we can, but time will tell if that proves to be viable, and if Blue Langshans are a part of what we end up doing.
Guess we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, many Wolf Mountain chicken do we have…
Nice looking chooks Milkwooders, and great to see that they were raised naturally by a mumma hen.
I’ve done both incubator/brooder box and clucky chooks, and I really love the natural way! It’s so much less work, the chicks are much more robust and healthy, and survival rates are much higher.
I reckon the incubator way would win out once you get above a certain size of operation – e.g. when you’re trying to raise 50 meat chickens in a batch so they can all be processed at once, or you need 100 new layers coming through to replenish your flock.
But on a backyard/homestead/small farm scale, give me broody hens anytime!
Yeah if we get up to batches of 50 that all need to hatch the same day we would be going the incubator, or buying in day-old chicks… but at the moment it’s just a side project, so its fun to learn how to do what we can with the broody chooks we have!
Do you have access to any other roosters to increase the genetic diversity of the final flock?
happily yes! One of the main Australian blue langshan breeders lives in Mudgee…
I’d love to read that you’ve made a commitment to NOT ever use the torture machines known as incubators. Chicks should be hatched and raised surrounded by the loving sounds of mother hens not exposed to the sterile hum of a machine’s fan.