The Honest Truth About Marans, 3 More Chicken Breeds (Pt. 3) 

Looking to start or expand your backyard flock but not sure which chicken breeds to are the best? While I can’t tell you which chickens would be the perfect match for your particular situation—more than a dozen factors affecting your decision come to mind off the top of my head—I can share which chicken breeds worked for my family and which ones crashed and burned.

The following foursome comprise part three of my series (here’s part 2) honestly recounting my experience rearing these breeds of chicken.  

Dutch Booted Bantam 

My experience with Dutch Booted Bantams (pictured above) came about unexpectedly. These were amongst the adorable “mixed bantams” that I brought home from our farm-supply store as a result of chicken math.

There were only three in the entire stock tank, and all three came home with me. Sadly, two didn’t survive the first week. To this day, I’m unsure why they perished. They’d been active; were eating, drinking; and pooping; never experienced pasty butt; and were the same size and age as the other baby bantams in the brooder. P

erhaps Dutch Booted Bantams are delicate by nature. Perhaps it was just those particular chicks from that particular hatchery. I’ll never know.  

The surviving chick, Clarice, befriended the only lavender chick I’d seen in the mixed-bantams tank (and of course brought home). Edward and Clarice became inseparable, even as fully grown birds … which was all the more astounding since we discovered that Edward was not a bantam at all but rather an Easter Egger—and female at that. Another name change became imminent when Clarice began crowing.

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Edwina and Clarence were quite the pair. Clarence would ride on Edwina’s back, and the two would roost together at night, Clarence often tucked beneath one of Edwina’s wings.  

 I never saw another Dutch Booted Bantam chick amongst the bantams bin that year or in subsequent years, so I can only assume that the hatchery had issues with the breed. It’s hard to summarize an entire breed based on my experience with Clarence, but I will say he was a very gentle, affectionate and healthy little bird with beautiful feathering on his feet. Hopefully the rest of his breed follows suit.  

Japanese Bantam 

Japanese bantamJapanese bantamMarieXMartin/Adobe Stock

One advantage of getting to know the director of the local university’s poultry research farm is being alerted when hatching eggs and chicks were available for the many different chicken breeds being raised at the center. I carefully brought home one dozen of the tiniest bantam eggs I’d ever seen and watched them incubate with anticipation.

I was very disappointed when only one egg hatched. I learned soon after that Japanese Bantams, like Araucanas, carry a lethal gene that kills many of the embryos before they hatch.

The surviving chick, a gorgeous White Japanese Bantam I…

Episode 62: Frank Hyman

Rodney Wilson, senior editor for Hobby Farms and Chickens magazines, is a writer, editor and hobby farmer. His family farm, the Kentucky-based Goldfinch Farm, has raised Berkshire pigs, Dexter cattle, meat chickens and laying hens, but these days focuses on self-sustenance and beekeeping. Rodney lives in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area with his wife, a whole mess of kids and so many pets.

Poultry Profile: The Beloved Speckled Sussex Heritage Breed

Speckled Sussex chickens are gaining popularity in small backyard flocks across America. These speckled beauties are perfect for people desiring a cold- or heat-hardy chicken that excels at egg laying. With these traits, it’s easy to see why the speckled Sussex is gaining popularity.

But what else is making the speckled Sussex breed a popular choice for backyard flocks?


Bred in the mid-1800s in Sussex, England, the breed was initially developed as a meat bird. Before Cornish Rocks gained popularity, Sussex was the primary meat bird of England.

Even though the Sussex’s original purpose was to be a meat bird, they are not prone to the health issues often occurring with Cornish Rocks.


The Sussex comes in a variety of colors: speckled, red, light, Columbian buff and white. The striking speckled—a mahogany color with each feather ending in a black bar and white speckle—is the most popular color in the U.S. With each passing molt, the speckles become more numerous.

Speckled Sussex heritage chicken breedSpeckled Sussex heritage chicken breed

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Meat & Egg Production

Sussex chickens make an excellent choice for the table. They are known to have incredibly tender meat, especially when butchered at a young age. Each chicken should average a dressed weight of 6 to 7 pounds. However, speckled Sussex are slower to mature than Cornish Rock crosses (averaging 20 weeks to reach butchering age).

This trait puts them at a disadvantage to faster-growing breeds, who reach butchering age in 9 weeks.

Speckled Sussex are excellent egg producers who will lay eggs without declining for several years. Each hen averages four to five light brown eggs per week for the first four to five years of her life.


If you are looking for a pet chicken, you don’t have to look any further than the speckled Sussex. These hens crave human interaction and will do anything to get attention. Sussex are chatty, curious, friendly, intelligent and energetic.

They love being the center of attention. They also love to be held and will carry on animated conversations with their owners.

Hens of this breed are very energetic and benefit from directly supervised free-ranging. Even so, they still tolerate confinement well if allowed to stretch their legs. If bored, they often will find ways to entertain themselves. Sussex can bully other flock members when bored, so provide lots of mental stimulation.

Providing Entertainment

The Border Collies of the chicken world, Sussex are intelligent and energetic hens who require physical and mental stimulation. Providing your hens with fun activities will keep these chickens healthy and happy.

If you have a bored Sussex, try one of the ideas below.

Fresh Straw

Putting clean straw in your coop or run will provide chickens with endless entertainment. Even when your other breeds have tired of the game, your Sussex will continue to scratch happily through the straw.

Because if there is anything a Sussex likes to do, it’s scratch.


Homesteading: A Trapper’s Perspective – Part 2, by Lodge Pole

(Continued from Part 1.)

Our goal is to limit our trips to town by producing as much food as possible. There are still a few items we will need to purchase, salt, flour, etc., but those are easily procured in bulk to limit our trips. I am a student of history. I study how and what our ancestors did as they settled this country. They had to be resilient and self-reliant. They had to deal with heartache and failures. Most that pursued manifest destiny failed, but regardless, those men and women were tough. They kept on going. It is easy to romanticize a time we did not live in, but their fortitude eventually settled a wild land.

I have heard that it took two generations for our society to lose all “coping skills.” What this means is our lives have become so easy and reliant on technology. Most of the society does not have basic skills, like building a fire. We do not know where our food comes from, and we are driven solely by corporate marketing tycoons who tell us what to buy and when. Our society now values feelings more than knowledge and grit. We praise and worship creeps and mentally deficient individuals instead of trying to better ourselves. Our society is soft. As a nation, we appear weak.

So many people in this country lack the basic skills to take care of themselves. Look at how many people get stranded and die sitting in their cars during a snowstorm; a snowstorm they had been warned about for several days. We are not taught critical thinking or how-to skills. High school graduates don’t know how to balance a checkbook, make a healthy dinner, and some have no desire to learn to drive.

Why drive when you can play a video game? Through the lack of real-world skills, technological advances and a lack of interest, our culture no longer has the grit and perseverance that our ancestors did when they headed West for a better life. Can you imagine this generation leaving everything they have in search of a place they had never been just for the chance of a better life?

When I brought the first batch of chicks home to our new house, my one-year-old son waited anxiously. Obviously, as parents, we built up the occasion. He was so excited and loved holding them. Often, we have people ask us what our chickens’ names are. I always respond, “We do not name food.” These chickens are part of our lifestyle, not pets. It’s at these times when I remember what those working cowboys had said years before. Our animals are tools we use to give us healthier food, a sense of freedom from corporate products, and the plain comfort of knowing we have food regardless of the supply lines.

To this day, we have not named any of our animals and we have taught our son where his food comes from. On occasion, when we sit down…

Brush Up On Your Poultry Trivia With These Chicken Facts

It’s inevitable: Once you start keeping chickens, you become an encyclopedia of all things poultry. If you’re like me, you get your hands on every publication available in pursuit of new chicken facts. I have five bookshelves dedicated to chicken books. I have acrylic magazine holders stuffed with issues of Chickens and Hobby Farms. My browser features a folder full of bookmarks for reputable chicken web sites.

My phone’s Contacts app has entries for professors of poultry science, avian veterinarians and chicken breeders. You’d think that I probably know everything there is to know about chickens … but I don’t. I learn new facts about chickens with pretty much every article I research and write.

When I discover new facts, I get excited all over again and eagerly wait for my family to get home from work and school so that I can share my new knowledge about our chickens with them. Naturally they’re not as enthusiastic as I’d hope—perhaps because they’ve been at computers all day. But, luckily for me, I can share these nuggets with all of you.

Here are four sets of chicken factoids I recently learned for you to enjoy and perhaps share with your own poultry people.  

Production Pro 

The United States leads the world in poultry-meat production, surpassing the planet’s 194 other countries in output. America raises more than 513 million chickens and more than 216 million turkeys annually, with more than 59 billion pounds of that being broilers

Those 730 million birds brought in approximately $77 billion dollars in revenue in 2022.  As enormous as this seems, the U.S. actually only produces 17 percent of the world’s poultry, with China and Brazil following close behind.  

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Chicken Chow Down 

America not only produces the majority of the world’s poultry; it also consumes most of the world’s chicken. About 15,000 metric tons of chicken is eaten each year in the U.S., and it’s easy to understand why: chicken wings, fried chicken, chicken soup, roast chicken … Americas just adore chicken.

Not only is it a tasty protein, it’s also an inexpensive one, much less costly than beef, veal or seafood. Chicken’s affordability definitely helps put a chicken in every American pot.

But it’s not just the U.S. that loves chicken. Global consumption of poultry is estimated to be 136,000 metric tons in 2023, more than nine times what the U.S. consumes.The country that eats the most chicken after the U.S.? China

The Real Eggsperts 

The United States is also a global leader when it comes to egg production, with more than 109 billion eggs produced annually. According to United Egg Producers, more than 55 percent of America’s annual egg production is consumed right here in the U.S. Less than 1 percent of the US’s annual egg production—about 0.15 percent, or 160.8…

Keeping Peafowl For Pleasure & Profit

Peacocks are recognized globally for their amazingly iridescent, colorful feathers. Plus they have special links to specific religious and cultural beliefs. But the bird specie’s name is really peafowl. Peacocks are male peafowl with their magnificent-fanned-tail displays for courting season. Dullish in appearance, the females are peahens, and the babies are peachicks.

Peafowl may be feral or domesticated, are popular in zoos, and even roam urban areas. On some farms, they even serve as guard animals. However, they are unique birds, and consideration of their needs and personalities is integral when deciding whether or not they will successfully relocate and adapt to a specific environment. But one successful relocation story comes out of Oklahoma.

A Rehoming Tale

A county sheriff called up Gloria and Chester Hocker 20 years ago to ask if the couple would round up a group of escaped peafowl running loose in a small town. The birds were free-roaming neighborhoods, damaging property as they went. Their sharp talons scratched cars when the birds jumped on them.

The Hockers own Chester’s Party Barn and Farm in Piedmont, Oklahoma. An over-25-acre farm, the rural location is home to 18 animal varieties. Even though the venue doesn’t rehome animals, the sheriff asked the Hockers to make an exception. 

“Rounding them up was interesting,” said farm manager Jasie Dinkel. “You have to catch them at night, when you have an element of surprise in the darkness, and they are in one location roosting and sleeping. Our crew used fishing nets to catch them one at a time.”

Team Chester integrated the peafowl into their popular agri-tourism venue. Some of the 13 have now passed away due to old age, but the farm currently has two peacocks and one peahen. (The peahen was hatched on the farm.)

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At Chester’s, the peafowl are docile with no issues around people. As well, they cohabitate with chickens, roosters, turkeys and ducks in a 400-square-foot area with lay boxes. They have outdoor areas to scratch and roll around in the dirt for dust baths, plus at least three levels of roost—including ledges, poles and rungs—for added height to their enclosure. Like chickens, the peafowl roost on almost anything off the ground.

Chester’s is a petting zoo, and visitors easily see the peafowl up close, and pet and feed them. But the birds’ enclosure is made so the peafowl cannot leave. So, although the other birds may get to free graze on the farm, the peafowl have to stay at home base.

“Our peafowl cannot totally free roam for their safety from predators, cars, and the risk of them getting loose and causing nuisance situations for our neighbors,” Dinkel said. “You can train most chickens to a home area. But our peafowl are not like chickens in that way. If they get out, they are gone. Perhaps some other farms may be able to train them to stay close, but we have not been…

How To Treat Oviduct Prolapse In A Laying Hen

Oviduct prolapse is scary and stressful for backyard flock owners. The thought of your beloved hen’s oviduct sticking out of her cloaca is enough to send shivers up and down your back. While most hens will never experience an oviduct prolapse, it does happen occasionally. Learning to treat this condition could be the difference between life and death for your hen.

There are several things you should know before dealing with a prolapsed oviduct:

  • Always isolate the prolapsed hen to avoid cannibalism.
  • Only treat a prolapsed oviduct at home in emergencies.
  • Always take your hen to see a licensed veterinarian, even if you have successfully pushed the oviduct back in, to ensure she isn’t injured internally.

Emergency Prolapse

Emergency treatment occurs when you realize your hen has prolapsed, and the veterinarian who usually treats your chickens is closed for the night. Every animal hospital you call has no appointments or doesn’t treat chickens, and there is no other way to treat her.

That is what happened when Millicent, my Speckled Sussex hen, laid an egg on the fourth of July and prolapsed. Every vet I called in the area was closed, and all the emergency veterinarian hospitals I called in my home state didn’t have a veterinarian who treated chickens. So, with help from my sister, I gathered everything we needed to treat a prolapsed oviduct at home.

When dealing with a prolapse, you must respond quickly to increase your hen’s survival rate. The longer the oviduct is exposed, the harder it will be for your hen to recover, and increase the chances of contracting an infection and fly strike. Chickens can’t poop when they have a prolapsed oviduct, so a hen suffering from this condition may also have an impacted crop.


Treating an oviduct prolapse requires only a few things that should be in your flock emergency kit:

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  • disposable gloves
  • petroleum jelly or coconut oil
  • granulated sugar

Wearing disposable gloves and holding the hen securely on your lap, clean the exposed oviduct gently with warm water, being careful that no water enters your hen’s cloaca.

Generously sprinkle sugar over the exposed oviduct and let the sugar sit for 15 minutes. The sugar helps to absorb liquid in the prolapse, causing the oviduct to shrink.

Next, wear a clean pair of disposable gloves, coat the gloves and the hen’s cloaca with Vaseline or coconut oil. Carefully gather the exposed oviduct between your fingers and thumb, and gently push the oviduct up the hen’s cloaca until the oviduct has disappeared from view.

In some cases, the oviduct will pop right back out. If this happens, repeat the steps until the prolapse disappears into the hen.

Calling a Vet

Whenever possible, having a vet treat the prolapsed oviduct is the best way to treat your hen and increase her chances of survival. Oviduct prolapses are an emergency life-threatening condition, so when scheduling an appointment for your hen, tell the receptionist that you are…

Countering Rampant Food Price Inflation, by SaraSue

When one of my daughters, who has a good job, starts complaining about how insane food and supply prices are, I pay attention.  She has started shopping at Walmart searching for the lowest possible prices.  Her recent cart rung up at $450 and she didn’t buy hardly any food – mostly toilet paper, paper towels, dog and cat food, a few household items, and enough food for a few good meals for her family.  She exclaimed, “This won’t even last us a week!”  I keep telling her to shop Costco for certain items – you get way more product for the price – twice as much product.  Yes, you pay more due to quantity, but the per quantity price is much lower.  Well, that’s how I do it, but I understand that Costco can feel overwhelming cost wise.

How to buy food and supplies

For instance, if you buy dog food from Chewy (I used to) to be delivered, you might pay as much as $50-$70 for a large bag.  The price is the same online at Costco.  However, if you go into a Costco store and purchase, that same bag of dog food is $35 because you aren’t paying shipping costs.  “Free Shipping!” is not free.  At Walmart, you’ll pay for a lesser quality of dog food, half the size bag, for the same $35 price.  I don’t like going to Costco and pushing around one of those really huge trolley carts.  It’s very cumbersome, but when I go I can fit 4 bags of dog food, a case of paper towels, a case of toilet paper, and the other things I need and pay about $350.  Those things will last several months, not just a week. 

I shop completely differently now in this age of inflation.  Even if you shop “paycheck to paycheck”, you can still put some money aside rather than spend it, so you can purchase the larger-quantity items.  I can see how the math makes sense, but it’s hard to convince others.  If money is terribly tight, form your own “food and supply co-op” with friends and go in on those bulk items, take them home, and split them up.  People used to do that all the time, and many still do.

I don’t buy meat at a regular grocery store.  The prices are crazy unless you find a really good sale and stock up.  But, I’ve become very suspicious of where that meat is coming from (possibly Mexico) and how the meat has been treated (before and after harvesting).  So, I buy in bulk from a local rancher.  Mr. Rancher apologized to me that he had to raise his prices… by 25 cents/lb.  That’s some honesty right there.

I realize everyone can’t raise their own steer or pigs or chickens, as I have been attempting to do.  I also realize that “pastured” meat is selling in some places at absolutely insane prices.  Organic, whole, chickens from Costco are half the cost of sourcing…

Animal Invasion: 9 Species That Could Threaten Your Homestead

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By Tom Lovrić

If you live in the country, one of the issues you’ll face is a constant animal invasion. They don’t do it on purpose, really – if you think about it, you’re the one who moved into their territory.

In an ideal world, you could share the area with them, and to achieve that, you’ll have to mark your territory the same way they do.

Based on research and my own experience, there are a few species you need to look out for the most, and in this article, I’ll tell you a bit about them, and we’ll see exactly what dangers they may pose.

Before we start, though, I’d like to insert a disclaimer.

The animals discussed in this article usually don’t mean you any harm. In fact, they’re mostly not interested in you or your family, and they’ll never attack you unless they’re threatened or starving.

They’re mostly interested in your crops and/or livestock, so they’re naturally attracted to your home. Getting physically close to you is what poses a real threat, and this is something to keep in mind.

The safest thing for both you and them is to keep your distance and admire them from afar.

Which animals invade gardens and pose a danger?

To save you from a whole lot of reading, here’s a simplified table.

Species Why Are They Dangerous?
Wolves Killing and eating livestock, possibly harming people.
Bears Eating crops, killing and eating livestock, possibly harming people.
Mountain Lions Killing and eating livestock, possibly harming people.
Deer Eating crops (and some flowers).
Moose Destroying crops (by walking over them), possibly harming people.
Raccoons Eating crops, possibly harming people (carriers of rabies and other illnesses).
Skunks Possibly harming people with their spray (bites are rare, but they’re carriers of rabies).
Venomous Snakes Possibly harming people, capable of eating small animals.

This list is certainly not comprehensive – different regions have different threats. But these are some of the most prevalent animals to look out for if you have a place in the country.

Wolves: behavior and diet

Wolves aren’t afraid of venturing into yards, especially if they can find sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, horses, or chickens there. They will return to the same spot for food unless the pack migrates, so you can expect several invasions if you don’t put up a fence.

They’ll avoid conflict with humans if possible and usually attack only if you get too close,…

Benefits Of Raising Geese On A Homestead

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Are you considering adding some feathery friends to your homestead? Raising geese might be the perfect option for you. These intelligent and social birds offer numerous benefits that can improve the overall productivity and sustainability of your land.

Not only do they provide natural pest control, protection from predators, and nutrient-rich eggs and meat, but their feathers can also be used for various purposes, like filling pillows or making quill pens. Besides these practical advantages, geese require relatively low maintenance compared to other livestock animals.

They are hardy creatures that generally stay healthy with minimal care. Plus, they’re entertaining companions who can bring joy to your daily life on the homestead. So if you’re looking for a sustainable and environmentally friendly addition to your farm family, read on to discover all the incredible benefits of raising geese!

Natural Pest Control

Raising geese on a homestead is like hitting two birds with one stone, as they’ll not only provide you with eggs and meat, but they’ll also act as natural pest controllers, keeping your garden bug-free. These large birds have impressive pest eating habits which include snacking on insects such as mosquitoes, slugs, snails, ticks, and grubs.

This insect reduction in your garden can make a significant difference in the health of your plants and the overall enjoyment of your outdoor space. Geese are especially helpful for mosquito control during warmer months when these pesky insects are most active. Their constant foraging keeps the mosquito population in check while also helping to prevent slugs and deter snails from feasting on your plants.

Tick management is another benefit of having geese around since they consume these disease-carrying pests that may pose a risk to you and your family’s health. Geese even assist with grub control by digging up these lawn-destroying insects hiding beneath the soil surface. Aside from their appetite for pests, geese contribute to weed suppression in the garden due to their fondness for munching on various types of weeds.

This helps keep unwanted plant growth under control without resorting to harmful chemicals or manual labor. With all these benefits provided by geese as natural pest controllers, it’s clear that they’re an invaluable addition to any homestead environment. Now let’s explore how their presence can offer protection from predators, which is another great reason why raising geese should be considered by every homesteader.

Protection from Predators

You’ll be amazed at how these feathered friends can help protect your property from unwanted predators! Geese are known for their predator deterrence abilities, honking loudly to alert the rest of the flock and you of any potential threats.

Their guarding instincts make them perfect for territory defense, as they will aggressively confront intruders in an attempt to protect their flock’s safety. These large birds can be quite intimidating to predators, with their size and loud vocalizations often being enough to scare off would-be attackers.

Having geese on…