Mark finally talked me into
the unthinkable — picking up a few more laying hens. Our seven
layers were barely
giving us enough for our morning omelet plus a pan of brownies now
and then. But where do you find good, point-of-lay pullets?
In the past, I’ve told
folks to look on Craiglist and to check the bulletin boards at the feed
stores. Both are good ideas, but there’s a new chicken-buying
location in town — Tractor Supply’s Animal Swap.
The Animal Swap seems to
be loosely affiliated with Tractor Supply — a non-company volunteer
runs each one, but the store has a fancy sign that they put up at their
entrance when the swap is open. These swaps seem to be springing
up across the country, so it’s worth looking to see if there’s one in
your neck of the woods. Ours is held on the first Saturday of
each month and is advertised on facebook and craigslist, but some
others seem to be virtually located on meetup.
I have to admit, I wasn’t
expecting much. We live out in the boondocks, and even the “big
city” with the closest Tractor Supply has only 48,000 people. And
yet, our Animal Swap had perhaps a dozen enthusiasts selling everything
from sheep and goats to rabbits, ducks, turkeys, homing pigeons, and, of course, lots
of chickens. (As a side note, despite the name, the Animal Swap
is really a sales location, so bring cash.)
There were lots of very
knowledgeable folks present, and I learned how to sex a silky.
(Look for the red knob above the nose, which is the male’s version of a
rooster’s comb. The silkie pictured above is a girl.) I almost came home with a
couple of silkies too, but Mark talked me out of it. Maybe in the
Many of the folks
selling chickens bred their own, and it was interesting to see which
breeds were popular in our region. In addition to the silkies, I
saw lots of types of bantams (the Silver Sebright at the top of this
post being the only one I remember the name of). And there were
plenty of standard-sized chickens too, ranging from normal-sized Rhode
Island Reds up to Jersey Giants.
We came home with three
Rhode Island Reds, who I’ll tell you more about in a later post.
It was great to have such a variety to choose from, and I highly
recommend hunting down your local Animal Swap if you “need” more birds.
our new hens after their harrowing journey, and they started laying
that very afternoon.