A Chicken Coop, Fresh Laid Eggs, Why Not?




Foghorn Leghorn was a favorite of Baby Boomer children in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies TV cartoons and films produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Today, the famous animated rooster, affectionately called Foggy, who harbored delusions of grandeur graces the internet with quite a fandom. 

IMDB reports that Mel Blanc partially based the voice characterization of Foghorn Leghorn on Kenny Delmar's voice characterization of Senator Beauregard Claghorn, from the Old Time Radio series Allen's Alley. Claghorn said he hailed from a state that was “south of Alabama.” But, he never named that state. 

Other voice actors also took on Foghorn’s voice. Can you believe they allowed Foggy to say things like, “That woman’s as cold as a nudist on an iceberg,” in his 1946 to early 1960s cartoons? When married TV couples had to sleep in separate beds? Or do you think the Baby Boomer kids knew what this Foghorn quote meant, “What’s it all about, boy? Elucidate!”

This writer’s roosters were never as animated as Foghorn Leghorn. But the hens sure did lay a lot of eggs. And the roosters had some hilarious personalities. The main advantage of chickens is fresh eggs. Some breeds lay more eggs than others. Chicken breeds matter, and Leghorns are actually good layers. 

The Best Egg Laying Chicken Breeds

Most chicken breeds begin laying eggs between five and six months old. The first eggs from a young layer may be oddly shaped, smaller, or have a double yolk. It takes maturity for a young hen’s body to adjust. Eggs from an immature hen are fine for eating. The following presents a few profiles of some of the best laying breeds. 

Isa Browns

Isa Browns lay between 300 and 350 large brown eggs a year. They are a hybrid chicken and specifically bred for laying eggs. Mating two Isa Browns does not produce more Isa Browns. Isa Browns are a copyrighted brand, not a breed. 

ISA stands for “Institut de Selection Animale”, the French company that developed the breed in 1978 for maximum egg production. They are sex-linked for coloration, but the secret of their breeding history is closely guarded. Isa Brown pullets and cockerels hatch out in different colors. 

Poultry scientists know that Isa Browns are bred from a complex series of crosses, which include but are not limited to Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites, and contain genes from a broad range of breeds. They are hardy, docile, easy to take care of, and make great pets.  

On the downside, after two or so years of high-quantity egg production, Isa Brown hens look disheveled and experience a loss of feathers around their necks and bottoms. They direct the protein they gain from food into egg production instead of feather production. 

They need extra protein in their diets, like a small amount of mealworms or other protein source one or two times a week. Isa Browns have a short life expectancy. Even though they are a great breed for children, they can also be a source of sadness. There is a direct correlation between their egg production to their mortality rates. Onto other laying breeds…

Rhode Island Reds

...lay 250 to 300 brown medium to large eggs a year. But they are not always red; they don dark, reddish-brown feathers. Unlike Isa Browns, most chicken breeds take a break from laying eggs in colder months. They are a friendly and tough breed. 

Red Star/Red Sex Link and Black Star/Black Sex Link

Black Stars are a hybrid cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and a Barred Rock hen. Red Stars are a hybrid cross between a Rhode Island Red rooster and either a White Rock, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Rhode Island White, or Delaware hen. 

Both Stars lay about 300 large eggs per year. There are also Gold Stars. These chicks are also sexed by color at the time of hatch out. The super popular Star chickens are extremely active and moderately docile. Like Isa Browns, they are a brand, not a breed, and are not bred past their first generation. 

Australians bred the...

Australorp

...chicken, which is adapted from the British Black Orpington. They lay an average of 250-300 light brown medium eggs per year. Australorps are a beautiful free-range breed and need plenty of room to roam. They are docile, but not adaptable to smaller town and city-sized yards.

Leghorn

...chickens came to North America sometime between 1828 and   1852 from Livorno, Tuscany, Italy. The anglicized name of Livorno is Leghorn. They can be white, but they also wear various colors of plumage. They lay 280 or more white eggs per year. Leghorns do not make good chicken pets because they are shy and skittish. 

Sussex

...chickens are a British breed of chicken and produce approximately 240 to 260 cream colored to light brown, large eggs a year. Sussex chickens are calm, friendly, and curious birds that you can train to eat from your hand. The following are lists of chicken breed egg layers and family-friendly profiles. 

Best Layers for White Eggs

Breed

Eggs per Year (aprox)

Size

Ancona

220

Large

Andalusian

160

Large

Crevecours

120

Medium

Hamburg

150-200+

Medium

Lakenvelder

150-200

Medium

Leghorn

280+

Medium-Large

Minorca

200-250

Large

 

 

Best Layers for Brown Eggs

Breed

Eggs per Year(aprox)

Size

Australorp

200-250

Medium-Large

Black Star

300+

Large

Buff Orpington

200-280

Large

Delaware

Up to 200

Xtra Large

Isa Browns

300-350

Large

New Hampshire Red

200-220

Large

Plymouth Rock

200

Large

Red Star

300+

Large

Rhode Island Red

270

Large

Sussex

200-250

Medium

Wyandotte

200

Large

 

Family-Friendly Chicken Breeds

Breed

Eggs per Year(aprox)

Size

Barred Plymouth Rock

250

Large

Isa Browns

300-350

Large

New Hampshire Red

200-220

Large

Orpington 

200-280

Large

Polish 

150-200

Medium-Large

Rhode Island Red 

270

Large

 

DIY Chicken Coops 

If You Are a First-Time Chicken Parent:

Happy hens require certain amenities in their homes. First-time chicken parents may build a coop without specific hen necessities simply because they do not have chicken experience. Walk-in coops work best for all the tasks chicken parents have to perform, but especially for sanitation purposes. 

A chicken parent’s number one concern is protection from predators and the elements. A lot of country folks build their own coops of course. However, there are manufactured chicken coop producers and sellers, like Rita Marie’s Chicken Coops, which look like charming modern country homes, only for chickens! They are elevated, walk-in coops.

  • Plan your coop. Look for quality building specs online or in stores. The correct materials are important for all tasks, and above all, should be easy to clean. Doors should open inwards, etc.
  • Doors and windows need to be sealed properly. Coops need to be elevated for drainage purposes, to release the most amount of water away from the coop, and dry up any dampness. Insulate the coop walls, but build your coop with proper ventilation. 
  • Watering troughs and feeders should be in a place that is easy to clean and away from the elevated roosting area. Chickens make a messy mess with their food because they scratch and dig naturally, looking for bugs and worms. Feed your chickens in the same place at the same time every time. 
  • Make sure your coop allows for sunlight, especially if you have to go somewhere, like work, and cannot let them out or you do not have chicken run, during daylight hours. Face your coop to the sun.  
  • Protect your chickens from predators. Bury chicken wire under chicken run grounds to keep out common predators, like cats, coyotes and dogs, owls and other birds of prey, raccoons, rats, skunks, snakes, etc. Make sure predators cannot dig under your chicken fencing for your coop’s walls. 
  • Since a hen house needs a roosting bar for egg laying, you need to be able to clean up their poop. There are several ways to build them for this purpose. For example, you can make them slightly slanted with an exit door to hose them off to where the water will not pool, or you can put poop pans underneath the roosting bars. 
  • A roosting bar needs to allow the chickens to roost while maintaining their social hierarchy. This minimizes fighting and bullying. Chickens are territorial. It is easy to figure out  which hen is your top hen.  
  • A roosting bar, is not so much a bar, but allows enough space for laying eggs in a nest. You can buy specially made laying boxes too. The size of your coop and roosting bar depends on how many chickens you want to keep in your coop. 
  • If you have a lot of chickens, you need to count them every night. Broody hens may look for a hiding spot to roost. Then she will not return to the coop at night and becomes vulnerable to predators. 
  • Stick to an an “All Dogs on a Leash” policy for your visitors. 
  • Spring is the best time to start a new chicken flock, and breeders will have more chicks for sale in the spring. 
  • If you raise chickens for meat, you are a chicken rancher. If you raise chickens for eggs, you are a chicken farmer. 

Last but Not Least—Town and City Ordinance Codes

If you live within municipality limits, your city or town has livestock ordinances. Some consider chickens livestock, and some do not. Some allow a certain number of chickens, do not allow roosters, or only allow one rooster per so many hens. They define standards for coops. Be sure to check your local chicken ordinances. 

For example, part of Sherman, Texas’ regulations on keeping chickens is written as:

§ 2.02.014 Regulations on the keeping of chickens.

(a) A person commits an offense if he keeps or maintains:

(1) More than one (1) rooster without having a minimum of six (6) hens or more than ten (10) chickens total, including the rooster, on land of one (1) acre or less.

(2) More than one (1) rooster for every six (6) hens on land greater than one (1) acre.

(b) A person commits an offense if he houses or keeps chickens in a structure or enclosure at a distance within twenty-five (25) feet from any building or structure used or intended for human occupancy or human habitation located on another's property.

Happy Chicken Farming!




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Fishing Report from TPWD (Apr. 17)

GOOD. Water normal stain; 58 degrees; 1.53 feet below pool. Striped bass fishing is great drifting live shad around the islands or past the bridges near the rivers. Rain should finish off the spawn and look for bait on the banks with feeding fish near them. Top waters are working on sandy flats in 2-8 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are good on live shad along the bluffs on the banks in 2-4 feet of water. Also fair on spooks early and look for largemouth off the banks in 6-12 feet of water on main lake points near rocks. Catfish are fair on cut shad along the rocks in 30-45 feet of water. Drifting cut rough fish or gizzard shad in 5-10 feet of water near the river could produce a big fish after a rain with an inflow of dirty water. Crappie are good on brush piles in 12-18 feet of water on jigs using electronics to locate active fish working in and out of the brush. Look for spawners shallow with warmer temperatures in the forecast. Report by Jacob Orr, Guaranteed Guide Service Lake Texoma. Threadfin shad are spawning along the banks. Hybrid stripers are good on topwaters in the morning along rocky banks. Some days the egrets are working leading the way to fish. Some schooling activity under gulls. After the morning bite ends switch to swimbaits and Alabama rigs in 10-25 feet of water on the edges and dropoffs. This pattern should hold for the next 4-6 weeks while shad spawn near docks and banks. Report by John Blasingame, Adventure Texoma Outdoors.

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