Our small new flock of Barred Plymouth Rock chickens have arrived. What people called the Barred Rock is actually a Plymouth Rock chicken with the barred color. We were actually very excited to get these new chickens. We got a few more than we wanted as we only want 10. However, when you order over the Internet, they have minimum orders. The online nursery that we went with Murray McMurray. They seem to have a good reputation and have been very pleasant to work with.
One issue with Murray McMurray is on the question of vaccinations. We came to realize that one of the larger controversies with the vaccinations (from our perspective) is if they contain genetically modified organisms or GMOs. In organic farming, GMOs are called “prohibited” material. Murray McMurray said they could not tell me if the vaccinations they use on the chickens are GMO or not.
I asked Murray McMurray for the name and manufacturer of the vaccine so I could request the information directly. They have not provided me that information. I mean they know who they are buying their vaccines from. Apparently figuring out what is in animal vaccinations is an issue that has been raised with the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The issue has not been resolved. Until it settled the NOSB has requested the following:
1. That NOP identifies all vaccines registered with USDA as GMO or non-GMO.
2. That Vaccine manufacturers voluntarily and truthfully label vaccines about their absence of GMO content,
3. That the NOP or other USDA agency publish a real-time tracking system to identify GMO and non-GMO vaccines.
More here at USDA.
Murray McMurray uses the general NOP rule that “government organic” birds should be vaccinated with no clarification if vaccines with GMO are allowed. Even though Murray McMurray is not the vaccine manufacture, still Murry McMurray has been unwilling to “voluntarily” inform me if their vaccines have GMO content. That is unfortunate.
Anyway, I have provided you a list of what we purchased to start our chicken flock. We had everything setup, and we actually went through the motions of what we would do with the chicks so that the children and I would be very more comfortable. What we did when they arrived is was pick them up for from the post office. As a live animal, they call you, and you come and get the birds.
Normally the chicks that are shipped are day old chicks and have not been fed. Similar to human babies new chicks are born with a solid slug of food and don’t have any real issue for 48 hours. We picked them up, brought them to their brooder. They and we were very excited. Per reading, we took each chick and dipped their beak in the water, and then dip their beak into the food. This seems to help them find the water. Most likely because this was our very first time, we did it a few times until all the chickens appear to start to eat and drink.
We have no previous experience raising chickens, but the Barred Plymouth Rock seem to be bossy chickens, even as chicks. They appear to be relatively docile to humans (my children), but they want to establish who is dominant among themselves.
Our new “Chicken chore” on our little farmstead is:
1. Take the chicks out of the brooder and put them into one of the moving boxes.
2. Remove the soiled newspaper and replace it.
3. Throw out the dirty water and replace.
4. Top off the food.
5. Check the thermometer
6. Turn on additional heater at night depending on thermometer reading
It appears that “young hens” called pullets in general and Plymouth Rocks, in particular, take about 6 months before they start laying eggs. They seem to continue laying for several years. Other than that, it seems you just feed, water and keep them clean and let them grow. In about a month, they will lose all of their fur and gain their feathers and become “young hens” called pullets by the industry. Then we will move them into their mobile hen house I purchased. I am not really sure how I will heat the mobile hen house at night or if I have too.