31st Oct 2011
May I take the opportunity to thank you for the meat chickens course. Both Jean and I feel confident that when we raise our own birds for the table next season that we'll be confident and capable of dealing with them humanely and efficiently. We were also delighted with the book, which reminded us exactly the order in which things needed to be done when we came to drawing the two birds that we'd plucked.
Black Stars are £20 at point of lay. We have Black Stars in stock.
The text which follows relates to Back Rocks, but in 2009 Muirfield Hatchery changed hands and this has disrupted the availablilty of Black Rocks. We have therefore has to find another source for these chickens and now stock Black Stars, similar in every way to Black Rocks, they are just not from Scotland.
The Black Rock is a hybrid and the first commercial, and considered to be the most successful, breed bred for free-range conditions. The Black Rock is a true first-cross hybrid from especially selected strains of Rhode Island Red (male line) and a Barred Plymouth Rock (female line). The sex of the chicks can be distinguished on hatching, hence the label Sex-Link.
The Black Rock is a particularly hardy bird suitable for the most severe weather conditions. They love being outside whether it is raining, sunny or full snow storm. In the past, I have looked at my chickens in the pouring rain and they look completely bedraggled, but they are happy. It is their thick rich plumage that protects them from the weather. Their feathering can vary from the lustrous black feathers, with petrol coloured sheen, to shot through with gold from head to tail. Both look fantastic!
Black Rocks also have a highly developed immune system which not only helps with their hardiness, but also provides a long productive life.
The Black Rock hen produces pinky brown eggs with a good quality of shell, shell colour and size. They should produce 280 plus eggs a year and can easily live for six or more years, continually producing good eggs throughout their life. The quality of eggs from the Black Rock is one of their most notable features. With the right diet you will have eggs with the most fantastic rich yellow yolks.
Black Rocks are often said to be docile birds. They may be, and they are a pleasure to watch. I also find them fairly intelligent and full of character. They are an easy bird to keep. Another important aspect of their character is that they are not easily stressed. Indeed, a few years ago a fox attacked our hens and one was being carried off by the fox, but was saved by our chihuahah. Our poor hen had some feathers and flesh missing, but was soon back happily in the hen house and laying again a few days later. The problem with a nervous bird, apart from being more difficult to keep, is that they will use more energy and therefore food, which means they are more costly to keep. Black Rocks are definitely not in this category!
Black Rocks are bred from a single hatchery in the East of Scotland. Muirfield Hatchery, which acquired the breeding stock in 1973 and has continued to improve the Black Rock by careful selection without affecting their essential characteristics. With the parent birds being both natural breeds the cross retains superb genetic vigour and excellent health record. There has been no recorded salmonella infection in any U.K. flock and therefore they do not require salmonella vaccines. We buy our hens from an approved agent when they are at point of lay. All chicks are vaccinated at 1 day old for Infectious Bronchitis (I.B.) with H120.
Black Stars are £20 at point of lay.