BELGIAN BANTIES

All our urban homestead critters are characters.   We like to tell people we don’t have cable we have chickens, ducks and goats.

In our eclectic flock, these Belgian banties chickens are somewhat more personable than the rest.  Though all our chickens are extremely friendly, there is just sometime special about these banties that just captures your heart.    I don’t know what is about these little birds that are the size of a small pigeon but they always like to cock there heads to one side make eye contact and a trilling sound – yes, a trilling sound.  As if they think they are somehow equal to you and would like to engage you in a conversation and you feel that you have to oblige by talking back.   Come feeding time in the morning and evening we happily converse with our menagerie reminiscence of a Dr Doolittle book.  These small birds have big personalities and are fun to be around.   I sometimes wonder what goes through that bird brain of theirs.

While we are on the topic of backyard farm animals, a question from one our readers

I have a question for you, or rather several related questions. Since you are vegetarians how do you handle your birds insofar as getting new birds when necessary and keeping (or not) birds that have stopped laying? Do you purchase/acquire them already sexed? If not what do you do with the roosters? When they stop laying do you keep them until the pass away naturally or do you “cull” them from the flock? Also, once you breed the goats are you going to keep the kids? Either way what do you plan to do if you get a billy? Thank you, you are a wealth of knowledge!

Lily

Thanks for your question Lily.   We only have hens since roosters are not allowed in our city and we let our hens (all our animals) live out their lives till they pass away.  There’s no culling on this urban homestead.  In fact we have one hen who’s nearing seven years old!   Which is incredibly long lifespan for a chicken.  She rules the animal kingdom and she just doesn’t want to give her domain to anyone!    Of course she lays pretty erratically giving just a  handful of eggs a year (if we are lucky) but she is extremely happy hanging out with her pals and like with all our animals will hopefully pass away peacefully in her sleep.  Of course that means that our egg production is not as high having a few retirement hens in the flock but it works for us.

As for breeding the goats, when that time comes, they will be taken to farm that has a billy for a brief jaunt in the country.  If and when the kids are born Jordanne has contacts already to give them good and loving homes (she’ll make darn sure of that)

Comments(6)

  1. redclay says:

    I thought Lily’s questions were very thoughtful. She points to the reality that for every laying hen in the city hennery, there is a rooster that will one day (most likely) end up on someone’s dinner table. It’s not feasible for every rooster to be kept as a pet.

    My opinion is that egg production goes hand-in-hand wih broiler production.

    Anyone care to weigh in?

  2. redclay says:

    P.S. I am omnivorous.

  3. Traci says:

    I was wondering about this too as my family is Vegan due to environmental issues as well as dissatisfaction with the cruelty of the meat and dairy industries but were thinking of someday having chickens. While it would never be a question of letting our chickens live out full happy lives we’ve come to a dilemma as to where to acquire them. We’ve thought of adopting but would like to raise at least part of our flock from chicks so that they are comfortable around people. However, we realize that anywhere we would buy chicks from that are already sexed would be killing off their male counterparts. It doesn’t seem like anyone is keeping a flock of roosters and trying to get rid of the hens. Is there an answer to this or is adoption our only option?

  4. Yanna says:

    Traci,

    A healthy rooster to hen ratio is 1/5 at least in order to prevent injury to the hens. One rooster to 10 or 15 hens is more optimal. In nature, the roosters would control their own population by fighting and by protecting the hens from predators.

    Clearly, domesticated chickens don’t have these controls on their rooster population. I have seen it suggested before that someone open a rooster sanctuary – such a sanctuary would be rapidly inundated with hundreds of roosters that would need to be kept apart and live out their lives alone. This is a very unnatural and unhappy state for a chicken.

    Domestication of animals brings with it certain ethical and moral challenges that don’t fade away with time. At one end of the spectrum, some people have chosen to keep no animals of any kind. Hopefully, each of us is doing what he or she can live with in the big picture.

    If you decide you want chickens, either chicks, “teens” or adults, you can probably find a small farm offering poultry within driving distance of wherever you live. There are lots of hobbyists these days with chickens plain and fancy for sale. Try your local Craigslist, poultry swap (you can find out about these at area feed stores) or ask around at your local county fair (try the 4-H area).

  5. Yanna says:

    Sorry, I entered the wrong url in my last post. Thanks.

  6. Traci says:

    Yanna,

    Thanks so much for the tips! I guess when we’re ready we’ll really have to think about it and weigh our options. Do you know if it’s actually unhealthy in any way to have chickens without a rooster at all? We’re not sure if we would necessarily be living in an area where we’d be zoned to have roosters.

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