Category: Chickens

Chicken Coop Down

Success! We removed the plywood around the playhouse base and tried pulling the playhouse down. Nothing. It’s an odd combination of flimsy and sturdy, but sturdy won out. Scott wrapped a chain around the front 4×4’s and cut through them. For safety, he tacked in two non-cut 4x4s to act as braces while he cut the structure. Pulled again and nothing — those two braces held the entire building.

Then the took other dimensional lumbar and threw it like a javelin at the two braces. A single brace still held the whole building, but after the second brace was removed … we finally have success. It came down in one piece — there are a few dings and the front porch was damaged. But we’ve got a little building at ground level. Now to flip it, clean it up, and get the chickens moved in.

They grow up so fast

Anya keeps telling me that chickens grow up so fast … which is both true and so funny coming from the Anya who also seems to grow up really fast. The little balls of fluff are half feathers now, and getting bigger (and more chicken-like) every day. We had our first escape yesterday. I’d clipped a mesh over the top of the brooder when they first started fluttering. But one of the dark-feathered birds was roosting on top of the chicken toaster and pushed her way out of the cover. Now we’ve got more clips, and it seems to be secure.

And they love going outside to play. We’ve had a few really busy days and haven’t been able to take them out. Tomorrow looks a little cool, but the weekend and the first few days next week look like perfect chicken playing weather.

First Outdoor Adventure

Our little girls had their first adventure outdoors. One advantage of getting chicks late in the year like this ? 90 degree days. Plenty warm enough for these little ones to enjoy exploring. We’ve got a fence around the hazelnut bushes, so Anya brought them into that grassy area. At first, they stayed close to one of “their people”.

But, as they spent a little time checking out grass and dirt near us, they started venturing around the yard.

Real Chickens!

We picked up our little babies yesterday — had a little confusion because the order hadn’t gotten marked as ready for pickup, and the office staff is working from home so they couldn’t just pop out to the hatchery and see. But they eventually confirmed all five little guys were hatched and ready to come home.

We’ve got Sunshine, the Buff Orpington, who is undoubtedly Anya’s fav.

We’ve got Joyce, the Austra White, who Anya says is Sunshine’s best friend (and she is).

And Moonlight, the Black Jersey Giant … well, I’m about 90% sure about that. She’s got dark legs

And then we’ve got … well, I don’t know. And totally understand why they put leg bands on the ‘rare breed’ birds. There are a whole lot of gray and yellow balls of fluff. I think this is the Green Queen, Queenington.

Which would make this our Columbian Wyandotte, Tilly. Anya says we cannot call them by their names until their feathers come in and we actually know who is who. Which makes sense — I’d be awfully confused if I was called one name for a few years and then my family randomly started calling me some other name.

 

 

Chicken Tractor Design

I want to build a secure run for our chickens — something we can move around the yard. I’ve seen a lot of A-frame chicken tractors — I assume people use the triangular shape instead of a rectangle because there’s less material for a given footprint and, thus, the tractor is lighter and easier to move. Chickens aren’t that tall, so they can use most of the “knee wall” section of the tractor. But I thing it will be nicer to be able to use 100% of the footprint. Since 5′ hardware cloth seems quite rare, and there’s no reason to have a run that’s higher than 3′ … I’m designing this around 3′ sections. The vertical walls will use one length of 3′ hardware cloth. The top will have two “sections” of 3′ hardware cloth.

The run will be a wooden frame covered in 1/2″ mesh hardware cloth. The frame is put together as shown in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSvpYh5OBYU. I plan on using 2×4’s to build the frame, stapling the hardware cloth to the frame, and then using 1×2’s over the edge of the hardware cloth to ensure sharp edges won’t snag or cut anything. The screws holding the 1×2’s onto the 2×4’s will provide additional security.

On each corner, I need two 3″ long screws and another two screws for the board along the top. That’s 28 3″ long screws. I’ll need a bunch of fencing staples to hold the hardware cloth and some eighty 1.5″ long screws to hold the 1×2 to the 2×4’s

I need just over 50′ of three-foot-wide hardware cloth (10′ + 10′ + (2 x 10′) + 6′ + 6′ = 52′). Since I’ll need some to secure the coop too, I’ll probably just get a 50′ roll and a 20′ roll. I need 5x 10′ long 2×4’s, 4x 6′ long 2×4’s, 4x 3′ long 2×4’s (cut from 4x 10′ long 2×4’s) … which is nine 10′ long 2×4’s. I also need nine 10′ long 1×2’s to cover the ends of the hardware cloth. And maybe some handles on the top 6′ board to make carrying the thing easier.

I need to research a non-toxic paint or sealant, and we’ll have a chicken tractor.

Chicken Brooder Setup – Water and Heat

The heater that I ordered from Amazon for the baby chickens was a dud — I’ve got to send it back tomorrow. I ordered a different heater — both are like heating pads on legs to allow the chickens to huddle under it like a mommy hen.

We got the first bag of starter food along with a feeder and water container. While the water container is designed to prevent drowning, Anya read about putting rocks into the water tray in her chicken keeping book … so we gathered too-big-for-a-chicken-to-swallow stones, washed them, and have them in the water tray for extra safety.

Chickens!

Here are the chickens we want to order. I had put together a list based on research and talking to other people. Then I let Anya go through the hatchery’s website and pick the chickens she liked. Then I showed her where to find info about how many eggs they produce, if they are good in hot and cold weather, how friendly they are. We went through her list & eliminated birds that didn’t want to be in the cold, weren’t friendly, or only produce an egg a week. She really wants a white leghorn, but they say it’s not a good breed for cold weather. All but one of the ones I added were dropped because of lower egg production or less friendly personalities, so she was OK with removing some of her favorites from the list because sooooo many of mine got removed too.

Now we just have to wait until August for them to arrive! There’s evidently been a run on both chickens and seeds as people encounter runs on, well, everything at the grocery store.

Name Breed Eggs-Low Eggs-High Climate Personality Egg Size Eggs Baby Adult
Joyce Austra White 208 260 Heat and Cold Hardy Quite, tame and docile Large  Austra White Day Old Austra White Chicks For Sale at Meyer Hatchery, Your Premier Poultry Source
Sunshine Buff Orpington 200 280 Very Cold Hardy Docile, Quiet & Affectionate Large Buff Orpingtons lay large light brown eggs Day old baby Buff Orpington chicks Beautiful and fluffy Buff Orpington hen
Tilly Columbian Wyandotte 180 Very Robust, Cold Hardy Generally Docile Large Columbian Wyandottes lay lots of brown eggs every year. Shop Meyer Hatchery for your day old baby chicks! We ship nationwide year-round. Columbian Wyandotte Hens are a beautiful mix of mostly white with black accents.
Queenington Green Queen 208 260 extremely hearty in all climates Friendly, Docile, Good Pet Large  Green Queen  Green Queen
Moonlight Black Jersey Giant 180 200 very cold hearty Calm & Easy Going Medium Black Jersey Giants are a sustainable heritage breed that lays brown eggs. Black Jersey Giant Hens have black feathers and willow or black legs and feet.

 

Chicken Food

I’ve found a few good ideas for things chickens will feed themselves — include the compost area in the chicken pen, the chickens will turn the compost for you, eat fresh veggie scraps, and eat bugs they find.

Put a board or rubber mat down on the ground – let it sit there for a day or two, and a bunch of bugs will move in under it. Flip the board/mat into a new location & the chickens will go after the bugs that have been uncovered.

I also plan to grow a “chicken garden” in their coop — buckwheat, millet, flax, red clover, and forage peas. Hopefully they won’t confuse their garden with our garden. I want to try allowing them to roam in our raised bed garden to eat bugs … but I may end up fencing that off so they don’t eat our veggies!