Several of our laying hens are past their prime, as they are usually only at peak egg production for a couple of years. So, we decided to go ahead and add some more chicks to the farm now so that by spring they'll be old enough to lay.
Our hatchery of choice, Murray McMurray, required a minimum order of 15 chicks, so we went ahead and ordered that many, even though we don't need that many layers. We ordered 5 Araucanas (these are the ones that lay green/blue eggs and have proven to be very hardy), 5 Brown Leghorns (these are a very productive breed that will lay white eggs), and 5 Red Rangers (a meat breed, to round out the 15-chick minimum order). They did include a free rare breed chick -- let's hope that turns out better than it did the last time (if you don't know what I'm talking about, click here for the tale of Chubby, the chicken).
It's always very exciting when the post office calls to tell us that our chirpy little package has arrived! We are keeping them in the garage, which tends to get VERY warm in the summer time, so I'm having to keep a pretty close eye on the thermometer and turn off lights/raise the garage doors for ventilation as necessary. We've actually already lost a Red Ranger, and we suspect that heat was the culprit.