The Poultry Page

Our layer flock is comprised of many types of hens, from hybrid layers to “funny fancies”;  however, we also raise two chicken breeds with an eye toward conservation of correct type and historic utility.

1.   CREAM LEGBAR

Legbar peeps
Male to the right, females top and left

Anyone who has ever studied Mendelian genetics in high school has probably used the Punnett square.  It was developed by Reginald C. Punnett, the first Arthur Balfour Professor of Genetics at Cambridge.   Professor Punnett is also the man who, in the 1920s and with the contributions of a Chilean blue egg laying hen from Clarence Elliott and the work of fellow geneticist Michael Pease, developed the Cream Legbar chicken.   The breed was introduced to the world at the 1947 London Dairy Show and to American shores in 2011.

The Cream Legbar is the only genetically stable, auto-sexing breed that lays blue eggs.

 

We first acquired a trio of day old chicks from Greenfire Farms A and B lines in March 2012.  If you study the picture above, you will note the little fellow on the right has white on his head and muted coloring while the two females have darker brown “chipmunk” coloring.    At maturity, the females are similar in plumage to the Brown Leghorn, with several distinct differences: a modest crest of cream feathers and cream hackles, subtle barring on a grayed brown base and a heavier body than its cousin.  The male is more like a Barred Rock – if they had a moderate swept back crest and flashes of chestnut on the shoulders and coverts.    Unfortunately, our cock carried genes for wry tail, too much autosomal red, and no crest.  Of those two hens one is cream, the other gold and neither are crested.  The cream hen has remained in our breeding program and two crested ‘B’ line pullets were added late in 2012 from Jordan Farms.    In July 2013 we purchased a pure cream, crested ‘C’ line male from Greenfire.   Heathcliff is proving to be a valuable addition to our stock.  And last, but certainly not least, in 2015 we added six Rees line chicks (see image below.)

Legbars

The Graystem Farm line is based upon a foundation of the Greenfire A, B and C lines foundation crossed with the first Rees imports.  Note that the Rees line birds are much paler than the original imports and they also lay a green egg instead of blue.  We are still working to stabilize egg color from the Rees influence.

Due to the efforts of a group of dedicated fans, including Graystem Farm, a U.S. Club was founded in 2012 with the goal of standardizing U.S. Cream Legbar chickens in line with the British standard without sacrificing egg production or auto-sexing traits, then obtaining American Poultry Association recognition.   We are proud founding members of the U.S. Cream Legbar Club.  Please feel free to contact us for more information about this amazing breed of chicken!

Cream Legbar Highlights:

  • Auto-sexing at hatchCream Legbar Club Logo- small
  • prolific layers of sky blue eggs
  • medium weight
  • yellow skin and legs
  • white ear lobes
  • docile yet active
  • get along well with other breeds
  • easy keepers – free range or confined

2.    RHODE ISLAND RED (ROSE COMB)

IMG_2956Our first experience with “Rhode Island reds” was not a pleasant one.  The hatchery bred hen we purchased in our second year of chicken keeping was a good layer but mean as a snake – to us, our dogs, and every other chicken that invaded her space, which was most of the yard.  We quickly wrote this breed off as not for us.  It wasn’t until we attended our first chicken show years later and got a look at those stunning rose comb Reds that I just had to give them another try…and boy, was I glad we did.    True Rhode Island Red chickens are not mean; they are confident, inquisitive and easy to handle.  They are also solid meaty birds and still good layers too if you get the right lines.

An American breed developed from a complex combination of breed genetics in Little Compton, Rhode Island and the neighboring Newport County of Massachusetts, Rhode Island Reds are surprisingly difficult to breed well, but when you succeed, wow, what a bird.  Insist on the REAL Rhode Island Red!

Our foundation stock of rose comb large fowl was purchased from Gary Underwood in 2013.  The chicks arrived in January 2014 and are proving to be friendly, fantastic layers with the heft and body of a good meat bird.  Love these chickens!

Red Highlights:

RC RIR Cockerel 2 22 2015
Young cockerel coming into adult plumage
  • Confident and friendly
  • Dual purpose solid brick shape
  • Good layer of brown eggs
  • yellow skin and legs
  • glossy Bing Cherry red plumage

 

 

 

3.  JADE SEX LINKS 

And last, but certainly not least, we have developed our own sex linked layers. Our Jades lay a very pretty and unique pale jade stone color egg.  The hens are as lovely as their eggs, deep red and crested with glossy black tails, lacing in their hackles, bright eyes and deep yellow legs.  Very prolific and early layers!

 

Of course we recommend our favorite breeds but if you need more information on finding the perfect breed for your family, check out this helpful breed comparison chart from the Livestock Conservancy.

Our chickens are tested annually and are currently Pullorum-Typhoid and Avian Influenza CLEAN.     Graystem Farm NPIP #52-265

To check availability and order hatching eggs, please visit our Facebook Page