We handle every single animal on our land. I can turn my back to any rooster, bend down in-front of and pick up one of their hens without fear of being attacked. Any of our birds can be flipped upside down, held comfortably on one arm, pet, adored and then respectfully released back into the field.
💙 Learning the language of animals is something that cannot be taught in a book, it is all field experience. A simple call or stance speaks volumes to me about a birds mood. Each breed has a temperamental theme and each bird within that breed has its own character. I had a gorgeous Marans cockerel last year that did not physically do anything to me but every time I went to feed the flock I could feel that he was thinking about chasing me off. I would stop my feeding, crouch down, look at him and throw the same energy back at him, he would casually strut away knowing his place but even that exchange was one I did not want to breed so let him go. Chickens and roosters in particular are quite emotionally loud if we listen. We start each breeding group with 10 boys and narrow it down to two or three whose personality we want to pass on to future generations. 💙 It is our hope that over the years we will be able to educate folks that roosters and chickens are safe to be around. There is no reason to keep a mean rooster in your life when there are plenty of good reliable ones that can step up to protect your flock.
💙 Pictured here is one of our Sage Egger roosters. Sage Eggers are one of the breeds we have available in our 2019 lineup of birds. He is a gorgeous boy with exceptional creole patterning on his saddle feathers. Fun fact, the saddle feathers on roosters are used for fly fishing.
Did you know that as chicks form in the shell they create a special extra piece on the end of their beak called an egg tooth? This day old Ayam Cemani chick is modeling it perfectly.
The egg tooth helps them in the long journey out of the egg and falls off naturally after a few days time of hatching. If giving a baby chick to a broody hen it is best to give the chick when it is less than 3 days old. Looking for the egg tooth on a chick will be in indicator of that perfect age for mama hen/chick bonding.
The first time I saw a chick hatch out of an egg was a powerful experience. It is amazing how tight they are inside of the egg and how they are able to break out having no space to work with. Watching my first chick hatch changed my relationship to chickens, it gave me a new deep respect for how strong and versatile they are.
No matter what is going on in our lives, nature shows us that there is always a way forward – we may have to work for it, but it is there!
We have limited numbers of chicks of this beautiful and unique breed. If you would like to have some of these all black beauties strutting around your barnyard reach out! We ship nation wide
There are many methods of caring for livestock. Here at Alchemist Farm we take a holistic approach and ensure that we boost our flocks natural immunity and health by giving them access to pasture from sun up to sun down, clean water, clean unmedicated food, monthly raw apple sider vinegar in their water (1 -2 Tablespoons per gallon in a plastic waterer) to help prevent worms and parasites (as opposed to wormers) and vitamins in their water twice a month. We do not vaccinate our flock or chicks because it crosses a line from organic into the unknown. Is a vaccinated chick technically laying organic eggs when she grows up? The debate has no answer but if you feel strongly about vaccinating, we have all of the materials on hand and will vaccinate your chicks and keep them separate from our other chicks for a very small fee.
Why don’t we vaccinate?
Sunlight is a powerful killer of harmful microbes and pathogens that can otherwise harm the health of hens. Lots of folks who breed keep their breeding stock in covered pens where they do not have access to adequate space and sunlight. Vaccinating their flocks for Mareks disease is valuable for them and simply does not fit into our model of how we raise and breed our chickens.
Mareks is a disease that can be likened to herpes, it pops up at moments of stress in a chick and young pullets life when they are entering into sexual maturity. Like tetanus, it is in the soil everywhere, a lot of chickens are exposed to it and survive because they have healthy immune systems. We do everything we can to ensure the health of our breeding stock and laying flock so they are robust enough to tackle anything that comes their way. Stress is a trigger so we take care to provide them with extra vitamins when they are moved in their mobile coop to a fresh pasture on the land. We have never had any issues with Mareks and continue to protect our flock by keeping it closed meaning no new chicks, hens or roosters come to our farm. Any new breeding lines are through hatching eggs we incubate and raise.
The type of Mareks vaccine that is available to us at feed stores is one that is made from a strain of Mareks that comes from Turkeys, it is a gentle way of introducing the virus into the chickens system but it also does not cover them 100%. A young hen that is vaccinated and exposed to Mareks that is being raised in subpar conditions may very well fall pray to it.
What is Mareks anyways?
It takes a few different forms. Most commonly, it appears as an autoimmune disease. The chickens will rapidly grow tumors inside their bodies and start to walk in circles, stare off into nothing, then very swiftly not be able to walk at all and stop breathing. It is a very sad thing to have happen to any of your hens.
Should I be worried about my small backyard flock?
Most folks at feed stores will tell you not to be concerned if you have a handful of hens in your backyard. Chances are they are getting everything they need to have healthy immune systems. The main thing is to wash your hands, clothing and shoes if you have been to a livestock auction, county faire or some sort of an exposition where a lot of livestock and poultry is present. If you bring adult birds into your existing flock is it a good idea to keep them separated for a few weeks to keep an eye on them and make sure they are robust and healthy before introducing them to your existing hens.