Why Chickens?

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NH, United States
Last year, I bought a chicken coop that was made by someone that I love dearly and decided to raise some chickens. Well... we'll see how this quest develops as Spring fades into Summer and the chicks arrive in early June! Check out my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/fbideas for the most recent videos I've posted!

Monday, July 25, 2011

4 1/2 weeks and feathering out! At least most of them are

Most of the chicks now have names and they are content to be living in their new coop and run.  They are feathering out now and loosing the "down" that they were born with when the feathers start to come in and grow.

The Columbian Wyandotte's seem to be feathering out more slowly than the other breeds, and that has me concerned as to whether they're slower, or their getting picked on when I'm not looking.  Time will tell!

How we separated the hens from the chicks INSIDE the coop

Working in an 8x8 space isn't easy to separate. We built some panels to keep the hens with the nesting boxes and the chicks got the rest of the coop.
The hens have water and food inside their section of the pen and so do the chicks.  The chicks get to use the roost area and the hens have the nesting boxes.  I think the height is a little intimidating to them at times because they are laying eggs on the floor of the coop instead of in the boxes.

I thought Henrietta would be more bothered by the chicks than Gertrude, however Gerty is certainly more vocal towards them at this point.  She also is NOT HAPPY that THEY are using her ramp and door out to the run!  She is really stressed about this all.

It's been about 11 days now (it's already 7/25) since everyone is in the same areas of confinement and Gerty's eggs are either really soft shelled, or membrane only 80% of the time!  I'm hoping that once we get them all together and they haven't killed each other that her egg shells get harder again.  I'm not sure if stress can deplete calcium levels or not, but she's certainly off her game!

The rest of the story!

I feel like Paul Harvey.... actually I guess I left a few people hanging with my last post and they all wanted to know how the chicks did with letting themselves into the coop for the night.

They say Chickens "come home to roost" and even though the chicks aren't utilizing the roosts in the coop yet, they do successfully let themselves in one-by-one.  The hens aren't as lucky since they don't currently have direct access into the coop, so I only have to chase two chickens each night to put them inside instead of trying to herd a bunch of chicks!

Living with the Big Girls! 4 weeks old

Tour of the run and coop and how everyone gets into the chicken coop at night.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Meet the 3 week old chicks!

It's amazing how these little chicks are being stretched and pulled this way and that and the once cute little balls of fluff are looking more and more like little tiny dinosaur like creatures!  Feathers are growing in from all angles and depending on the bird, at different lengths.  No two are alike which makes it kind of fun.

We've had to raise the feeders and water onto platforms because they keep scratching pine shavings into everything!

More than 1/2 of them have names now.  The Buff Orpington's, Buff Chantecler's and the Cuckoo Maran's are still hard to tell apart since I have two of each.  I can't go by size because it seems like from day to day they swap places!  Temperment and shyness seem to be the easiest for me to determine between the sisters.

The two Buff Orphington's are the sweetest and most gentle.  When I put my hand in the pen, they'll come right up and let me slide my hand under them and lift them out.  Of course, feeding them the "mealy worm" treat for behaving doesn't hurt :)  It's amazing how quickly they imprint the reward with the action!

The two Blue Laced Wyandotte's are now two different shades of blue feathering.  I've named the darker colored chick "Miss Blue" and the lighter one is "Missy".  They're right behind the Buff's for the worms, although I have to be careful when returning them to the pen since they want to fly back in on their own and from a distance theycan't see the deer netting I have over the top to keep them contained.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Day 8 - Changing the Brooder Bedding

This video shows the first time that I changed the bedding in the little chick brooder that I started out with. It's a good tutorial if you're going to be getting chicks, and shows how to apply the Diatematious Earth that REALLY has kept the flies and odors under control for us. 
This is becoming such a learning experience!

So Tiny the day they arrived!

This is Luna, the Blue Cochin, the day she arrived in the mail.  She was so tiny and her legs were covered with the same fuzz that her body was.

At 3 weeks old now, she is still as timid with us as she was the day she arrived.  For awhile, I was sure she was going to be at the bottom of the pecking order, but  she's holding her own with the rest of the girls.

This is Oreo, one of the Columbian Wyandotte's.  She is still the smallest of all the chicks,  but she is always one of the first to come to my hand when I reach into their pen.

She is the one that Sierra chose for her chick.

Meet Kyleigh's chick.  I'm not sure she's settled in on a name for her, but she is growing like a weed.  She's one of my "candidates" for the most dominant chicken.  She seems to keep watch over all of the others when I check on them during the night, and makes sure everything is OK.
This is Silver Lily, the Silver Laced Wyandotte, Eleora's favorite.  The markings that she originally had on her back that made her look like a duck are almost all gone.  She now is more black than brown and also she is getting very large.

This little Buff Orpington gave us a run for our lives on that first morning!  Before we captured her in the planter on my porch, she almost lost us in the tall grass and we had to find her quickly.

She is now one of the softest of the chicks and climbs up onto my hand willingly while pushing everyone else away so she can be the first that I pick up!

They all have such different personalities!  What a wonderful way to spend a summer!

Free Ranging is a GOOD thing!

Henrietta and Gertrude have been "free ranging" the yard for a few weeks now.  They LOVE being out in the yard hunting and pecking for worms, bugs and grazing on any variety of green grass and plant they want to try.

I normally wait to let them out of the coop until they have both layed their egg for the day so that I don't have to worry about eggs in the bushes attracting skunks or raccoons that would LOVE to have fresh eggs just as much as I do! These photos were actually taken by my friend Dee the day the chicks arrived a few weeks ago.

Henrietta is the lighter of the two hens because she has more white feathering under the red and she "rules the roost" even though there are only two of them together right now.  Her comb is also straight and Gertie's lists a little to the left.

I have to laugh when she "body checks" poor Gertrude when they get treats.  Oddly, they aren't using the roosts in the coop right now.  They still tend to snuggle together on the floor of the coop in the corner nearest the door and ramp into the run.  The only time they go up onto the roost is when they hear me coming down the driveway to feed them in the AM and to open the door so they can come into the run.  They climb up so they can see me through the window.

Their favorite treat is when I give them "mealy worms"!  I have them in an old peanut butter jar and it doesn't matter where they are in the yard....when they hear that "shaking sound' they come a running.  My Granddaughter's aren't too sure about picking up these dehydrated worms, but the girls sure like them!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Day 5 - Chick Camera

I LOVE THIS MOVIE!  How can you resist these little girls?  They are so curious looking into the camera and wondering what new thing they're seeing today.  The chicks are getting stronger and larger by the day!

Just so we could see what they look like to each other, I used my Flip Video camera and took this movie. Fast little buggers aren't they?

June 17th - Day Two brings More Paper Towels

All the books I read said to make sure you cover the wood shavings with papertowels the first few days because the chicks won't know the difference between their food and their droppings.  I have to admit that I thought "yeah right", but it's TRUE!!

I do know one thing.... I'll be glad when this phase is over!  It looks good for about 30 seconds and then someone does their business and it's all over except the cleaning up!

June 16th - Many Visitors, Adoptions and Names!

My friend, Dee, was the first visitor to see and photograph the chicks.  Dee took numerous photos of the new chicks and also Henrietta and Gertrude that are AWESOME and somehow my computer has "eaten" the files!  Will get those posted as soon as I get copies again.  They are so wonderful.  Dee paints in oils and her works can be seen at www.deelessard.com. Who knows... maybe I'll get the chicks first day captured in oils?

The next visitors were two of my Granddaughters, Kyleigh and Sierra with their Mom, Elizabeth.  They chose two of the chicks that they fell in love with, and I think they're going to be the two Columbian Wyandotte's.
These videos are so cute!  Sierra's chick settled right in quietly with her and she is now named "Oreo".  When they finally feather out, their heads and back ends should be black and the middle will be white.  Just like the cookie :)

Kyleigh's chick is a little bolder, no actually she's A LOT bolder!  Climbing and snuggling.  She kept heading for Kyleigh's hair and wanted to hide.  I love Ky's expression when she realized which end of her chick she was petting!

Notice the colored dots on the chicks heads?  That's to help Nammie tell which chick is who's!  They're all so similar right now, especially the yellow ones that I need help telling them apart.

After they left, two more of my Granddaughter's came, Eleora and Abegayle,with their Mom, Jodie.

Abegayle chose one that is going to become a Gold Laced Wyandotte.  Her name is MiMi, which is what the girls call me.  I'm not sure which one is more afraid of the other, MiMi or Abegayle!

Eleora chose one that we keep saying "looks like a duck" with the markings!  She is hoping that "Silver" will become a Silver Laced Wyandotte.  I only have one of those and these two will become very similar yet so different.  Jodie renamed the Blue Cochin chick that I had fondly been calling "Fuzzy Butt" to "Luna".  I have to admit, it's a more dignified name than the one I gave to her :)

June 16th - Setting up the Water and Food

Before I left for the Post Office, I turned on the heat lamp in the brooder so it could come up to 95 degrees for the new chicks.  After checking for "pasty butt" a disease the chicks can actually die from, I put them into the brooder one by one and dipped their beaks into the water.  For the first 24 hours, I also added "Save-a-chick" which is a combination vitamins and minerals for new chicks and poultry under stress.  I guess being born and then bumping your way all around the country in mail trucks and planes could be considered stressful don't you?

June 16th chicks are here! Opening the Box

The chicks were shipped on Monday, June 13th, the day they were hatched, and I finally got them on Thursday, June 16th, at 6:00AM.

The post office called as soon as they arrived and when I got home I opened the box to see my new little ones.

They are so tiny!  Everyone made it without problems, so my "chicken adventure" is officially launched!