Friday, February 01, 2008

For Christy, a little post about chickens...

I love having my chickens around. They're so much fun. The babies are sweet (if a bit loud at times) and the kids love holding them.

Mine are free range and I love just watching them. Here they are on their first trip outside their run, at about 6 months of age. It's good to wait a while to let them out so they don't forget where home is. And so they don't get eaten because they're cat-size snacks.
When they find a tasty bug they holler to their friends and then play keep away. When they're just wandering and making their little noises it's soothing. There really isn't anything about my chickens that I don't like, except for when they poop on the porch. Which they do fairly often.

Then, if you have a rooster, you end up with little balls of soft down running around while the mother ship hovers over them.
Goldie was SUCH a good mom. I think she must have taken years off her life sitting on those eggs and caring for those chicks.
They are SO easy to keep. You need a chicken house with perches, nesting boxes, and area to roam. Here's a good site for more specific information, and I really like the book "Barnyard in Your Backyard." One thing I've found is that I like to keep chicks on peat moss rather than shavings, because it's less slick. Don't keep them on newspaper, they slide around and it can cause leg problems. Although if you didn't know that and you did keep them on newspaper they'd probably be fine. Turkey poults, however, are far more fragile.

Here's an example of a nesting box, with another one sitting on top of it.
They're 12"x12" and if I remember right you need one per every 3 birds. We had three for our six hens, but one they never used, and of the other two there was one that was definitely a favorite. When they became free range 24/7 they quit laying in them at all and it became an adventure trying to find nests...

This is the type of waterer I prefer, but it is quite a bit more expensive than the plastic type. The plastic ones have a very limited life and get brittle and break. This one won't break unless you let water freeze in it, then it will bow and possibly leak.

Which is why you might want a heating base to set it on in the winter:And finally, a feeder. With just a few chickens you don't have to fill these too often as long as long as you keep it dry. I feed a layer ration once they're done growing. (Before that you'll feed chick starter and then chick grower). It's a complete feed with everything they need, including grit. If you feed scratch you'll have to also provide granite grit (insoluble grit) for them to grind their food with, and oyster shell (soluble grit) as a calcium source for egg shell production.

This spring I'll be ordering some colored egg layers, Ameraucanas, so that later this year we'll have green and hopefully blue eggs. Such fun! And of course more turkeys, because they're tasty, but also because they're cool.

I'm not claiming to be a chicken expert or anything, but that's what I know...


Anonymous said...

and i love the fresh eggs...

don't forget to protect your chooks from predators like raccoons; i had one grabbed in the middle of the day. in the city. she lived and is blind but still lays eggs.

Christy said...

You're the best Andrea!! Thanks for the info and pics.

So do you raise the chicks just for eggs or do they become dinner too? About how many eggs do you get a day or week?