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Ahh, Malines....! Let me count the ways I love you! Is it fair to say that all of our breeds are my favourite? In the meat bird category though these guys are my #1 :) Amazingly, they grow almostas fast as the Cornish Rock Crosses (fast growth meat birds) but, as they are a heritage breed, they continue growing past the point at which a Cornish Rock Cross would need to be butchered (Cornish Rock Crosses are bred to achieve their full weight at 8 weeks old, after that, due to their fast growth rate, they start to develop leg issues as their legs can no longer support their weight and their hearts start to give out, due again to the fact that their hearts could not support any further growth). But, back to our lovely Malines! This breed can reach weights of 10 lbs (hens) and 13 lbs (roosters) if allowed time to grow; they generally reach maturity at 6 to 8 months old. They are calm and friendly (a must here on our farm), lay nice big eggs and hatch out nice big chicks! We are very much looking forward to making this breed one of our top meat producers :)
For this breed I had to include a photo of both our Bielefelder rooster (top) and our Bielefelder hen (bottom) as they are both so striking! This lovely breed originated in Germany in the 1970s and was only recently introduced to North America. The Bielefelder is a wonderful dual purpose chicken, both producing lots of meat (check out the size of our rooster!) and plenty of nice large brown eggs. These guys are so calm and friendly, our rooster often follows me around the pen and the hen will even sit calmly in your arms if you pick her up (most chickens freak out if you try to touch them!). Another lovely trait that they possess is the auto-sexing function, meaning that you can tell males and females apart at birth from the colour of their feathers - males are light coloured and females are darker. This is definitely one of my favourite breeds :)
Black Copper Marans
We have raised a few different varieties of Marans but the Black Copper is by far our favourite! Not only do their feathers have a beetle green sheen to them, and not only do they have lovely copper coloured feathers on their necks and backs but they lay the darkest eggs we have ever seen! They also lay lots of them :) Marans are well-known for their ultra dark brown eggs but the flock we have lays some of the darkest eggs we have seen of any Marans; some of their eggs reach an 8 on the egg colour scale :) They are a calm and docile breed with beautifully feathered feet and elegantly colored feathers.
Beltsville Small White Turkeys
Our sweet sweet turkeys! They hatch out as peeping yellow poults and develop beautiful white feathers as they mature. They originated in Beltsville, Maryland in the 1930s and are a product of a demand for small to medium sized turkeys with white pinfeathers (this makes for a cleaner looking table bird as dark pinfeathers leave dark marks where as white leaves no mark - it's purely aesthetic). Unfortunately, this beautiful breed nearly disappeared by the 1970s when the larger Broad Breasted Commercials Whites became more popular for their size and ability to reach it quickly (like the fast growth meat bird of the turkey world). The Beltsville Small White remains extremely rare even to this day but thanks to a few passionate breeders they have not been lost forever. They are a lovely heritage breed and we are very much looking forward to doing our part to help in the conservation effort. They average in weight between 12 and 21 pounds, lay nice large eggs and make wonderful mothers. They are terribly friendly and will imprint on you at birth and follow you around as if you were their mother (which you sort of are when you hatch them yourself!). They love hanging out together and adore the outdoors! They are oh so sweet and we feel blessed to have the opportunity to raise them :) One last cute side note, the little tom turkeys (the males) will start strutting their stuff at just a few weeks old! It is so cute! They fan out their littletail feathers and prance around showing off to the ladies and the other little toms. Then all the toms will start strutting around to see who can strut the best :) We have such giggles watching them!