Sounds dubious, doesn’t it?
I was up in the northern suburbs yesterday, visiting my grandfather (who was in hospital), and during the window during which visitors weren’t allowed, we went over to the shopping centre for lunch and window-shopping.
As we went past the pet shop, I sort of glanced at the windows, just saw dogs, and continued on. My sister, however, wanted to make absolutely certain that there weren’t any cats there, and went further inside. “Rachel!” she called out, “There are chickens!”
“Really?” It’s a very urban area. And, well, you don’t have chickens in pet shops.
But, sure enough, three little chicks. Frizzles, about eight weeks old if I was any judge (which I am), one cockerel and two pullets. Further investigation showed they were signed “Frizzle X, Unsexed, 2 for $15 or 3 for $20”.
Very excited, but a niggling voice in the back of my mind telling me I was doing something hasty that I’d regret, I went and asked the assistant if I could have a closer look. There was some disagreement about what “a closer look” meant: I wanted to pick them up and check feet, wings, and necks; she didn’t want them picked up because they got panicky. In the end, I was allowed to stick my head and upper body inside the case and pick them up to look.
This photo was taken at home. Discerning chook-keeping readers will recognise the buff one on the right as the cockerel. The shop assistant said that they were Silkie-crosses, and the two pullets have vestigial Silkie toes (Silkies, for some reason, have five toes, rather than the usual four), but the cockerel doesn’t, so I suspect that the two pullets are 1/4 Silkie and the cockerel is a full Frizzle. I’ve had first-generation Sizzles before and they had Silkie top-knots, which none of these do.
The pet shop said they didn’t sell them individually, so it was three or nothing and I reluctantly added the cockerel to the mix – I had been planning just to buy the two pullets (one of the advantages of being familiar enough with poultry to sex chickens from about six weeks, which is an age they’re still being sold as ‘unsexed’).
I was still sort of thinking, as I walked through the shopping centre with a cheeping box, that I might regret the purchase – I’m not usually one for rash purchases, particularly involving livestock. However, the more I thought about it, the more pleased I was with the purchase.
For starters, I didn’t breed this past spring because my gene pool was getting a bit inbred. So I knew I’d have to get some more birds – preferably a rooster of some pretty-looking breed – ready to be about 6 months old in Spring. I’ve half-heartedly looking on Gumtree once or twice, to no avail – boring roosters are free, fancy ones get expensive, and never mind the hens.
For a Frizzle, Silkie, or Sizzle, you can expect to pay $15-20 each on Gumtree for birds this age, probably more for a pullet.
And the breed – one of my favourites to get a bit of into my flock, blood which I don’t currently have in the mix – aside, at 7 weeks old now [we asked], they’ll be coming into lay in October-November, just in time for the breeding season. I’ve got about half a dozen bantam-cross pullets that can be put in the breeding pen with these three – and I think the two pullets are sisters, but the cockerel is more distantly related, based on his breed. So, basically, these birds are perfect in every way.
They’ve been named. From left to right, it’s Roy [or Ruadh], Dorcha and Nora (Gaelic-speakers will get the joke for those first two). We’ll see if these names stick. For the most part, only our roosters have names – currently, we have George, Albert, Douglas, Harry, and another one I don’t think has a name and is only still alive because he masqueraded as a girl when I was sorting them.
You can tell they haven’t been handled much as they’re not very friendly, so they’re in for a lot of handling over the next few weeks to tame them – especially Roy, as it’s important to have a friendly rooster. (Albert, for example, is nasty, and picks even on his father, dear sweet George).