Rodale.com Heritage Chicken Cam
Sorry, our chicken cam project is on hiatus, though the birds remain happy and healthy at the Zerbe farm. See below for links to lots of chicken-raising info.
Watch a brood of heritage chickens grow up before your eyes on Rodale.com's live chicken cam!
Update: Nearly all the chickens are outside now! The chicken cam will be off line temporarily while we revamp the video setup for outdoor conditions. We'll be back soon!
1. How many chickens are there?
So far 40 chickens and three guines hens.
2. What kind of chickens are they?
A gorgeous assortment of heritage breeds—Leghorns, Ameraucanas, Delawares, Dominiques, Jersey Giants, Wyandottes, Silkies and other bantams, Polish, Buff Orpingtons, and Rhode Island Red hens. Why traditional, or heritage breeds? Chicken expert and author Christine Heinrichs explains it best: "Traditional breeds have irreplaceable genes, the value of which remains to be seen. They may be the birds that will rescue the poultry industry of the future. They need to be more than living exhibits in museums. The value of rarity in living things is outweighed by the value they have as productive livestock. Offering the public the option of purchasing traditional breed meat and eggs will assure the future of traditional breeds as well as good food."
3. How old are they?
They were hatched between May 11 and May 20.
4. Where do these chickens live?
They live on Rodale.com editor Leah Zerbe's farm in eastern Pennsylvania. Most of the crew has graduated to the outdoor portable chicken coop, nine (a silkie, Frizzle, buff orpington, Polish, and five cuckoo marans) are living in a kiddie pool until they're big enough for the coop her husband and father-in-law built.
5. What do they eat?
They eat non-medicated chick feed. Treats consist of grass clippings, raw goat's milk, and yogurt to boost their immune systems. On hot days, we give them cold watermelon as a treat.
6. Do they all get along?
They seem to all get along, for the most part. Even though they are only a few days old, their personalities are certainly starting to shine through. For instance, the crested Polish hens (they look like they have mohawks) are a bit wild and hate being held. One Buff Orpington loves to perch on my finger, and seems a bit freaked out by the other chickens. (I think she thinks she's a human.) They are all so unique and are very fun to watch—they grow so fast, though.
7. Are they organic?
They aren't technically USDA-certified organic yet, but they eat organic feed, their mobile coop will provide space requirements consistent with USDA-organic standards, and they will spend most of their days on pasture (with protection from predators).
8. What will happen to them?
The chicks living in the coop will spend their time on pasture starting early in July. They'll be protected by a netted electric fence powered with solar energy. At night, they'll roost in the coop to protect them from predators. Every week or so, we'll move them to a new section to forage for bugs, take dust baths, and do what chickens naturally want to do. We are trying to figure out the best way to keep them safe from predators once they leave the mobile coop, or eggmobile, during the day. Red-tailed hawks and bald eagles live on or very close to our property, and dogs and foxes could be an issue, too. Suggestions are welcome!
We plan on selling the colorful assortment of eggs—white, brown, and blue and green tinted—on our farm and at the local farmer's market. We hope they will all live long lives and be part of our farm education program for years to come.
Read more about raising chickens on Rodale.com:
Chicken-rearing resources on OrganicGardening.com:
Rodale.com's Nickel Pincher and her house chicken: