Posts Tagged ‘brooders’

Roosting

March 22, 2009

I’m glad I read so much about chickens before getting them. Now that I have them, I feel like I know what I’m doing. It’s easy for me to figure out what they want and need. I thought I might not be able to do that; I can do it with cats, but I have been around cats my whole life and I really love them so it’s easy to figure out what they need. So I thought maybe chickens would be so new and foreign to me that I would not just Know.

But I do! I could tell they needed more space. If someone asked how I knew, I could come up with some reasons, but mostly it was intuition, as well as all the reading I did for months before getting the chicks.

I was just thinking the other day that they are old enough they would probably like something to roost on. Today they were jumping up to the top of the waterer and feeder. Then Moira and I got one of the chicks out and the little chick just sat on her hand. She looked so happy doing that. I took some pictures and will post them later.

So anyway, it’s definitely time to get them something to roost on. I’ll have to figure something out and put it in the brooder. Today we need to give them fresh bedding anyway, so I’ll figure something out when we do that.

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The little peepers

March 20, 2009

I couldn’t find my charger, so I had Tim charge my camera battery since he has the same kind of camera. So, finally, here are some pictures of the chicks:

Six chicks

Six chicks

Curious chicks

Curious chicks

Wing feathers!

Wing feathers!

One of the pullets

Two of the pullets

They are so darn cute! They have already changed a lot and we’ve only had them for a week. They have more feathers on their wings and tales than when we got them. Some of the pullets are flying and stretching their wings.

Yesterday we decided to give them a bit more room. They were in a Rubbermaid tote. That did work well for a week, but then it was getting a bit cramped and hot in there, so we used the bottom part of the box our oven came in. I know that will only work until it gets too wet or mucked up. It’s pretty thick cardboard, so hopefully that will be a week or so. I have to keep them locked up in Aidan’s room so the indoor cats don’t get in there and get too curious for their own good.

The one with the little mark on his head is Chicken Joe. He’s the cockerel and we named him after Chicken Joe on the movie Surf’s Up. I can’t wait to hear his baby crows and see him strutting his stuff. 🙂

Why we want chickens

February 28, 2009

One reason we want chickens is because we want to move towards being self-sufficient. Having hens and our own eggs is one step in that direction. I think we will eventually have either a dairy cow or goats, and maybe some sheep or a pig or two. Who knows. I do know that of all the farm animals to choose from, chickens should be the easiest for us to learn about and take care of. So that is part of why we are getting chickens first.

After reading more about chickens, I also realize there are other benefits. They will often eat table scraps. This is a great way for us to deal with the issue of trash in the country (I might have to research and write about that at some point). Most of our food waste will be composted or will be eaten by the chickens. That is great! Right now we put all kinds of stuff on the compost pile that probably shouldn’t go and will eventually attract critters. Having chickens and outdoor cats to feed scraps to will help with the trash. Yet another benefit is that chicken poop makes great fertilizer.

The primary reason we want hens is for eggs. We eat a lot of eggs and it will be great to not go to the store to get them. It will also be cheaper because I usually spend around $3.50 per dozen of eggs because I get the organic or cage free eggs (Yes! I buy cage free eggs even though I know that cage free doesn’t mean what it should mean). Anyway, having eggs will save us money and trips to the store.

We have also talked about the possibility of getting some chickens for meat, but Tim seemed reluctant to do that. I think he is worried that we will become attached to them and not be able to eat them. I think that is a possibility, but from talking to Scott the Farmer, I think that what most people do is have their hens separate from their “fryers” as they are called. The fryers are in a movable coop all the time or are free ranging and then in a separate coop at night. Doing it that way seems like it will keep us from getting too attached.

I think, though, that we will start with 4 or 5 hens and just collect eggs for a while. Then we will figure out if we want to have some fryers. Our neighbor is going to get some hens, some fryers, and a hog. I think he built a movable coop for his fryers. We’ll have to go see it and talk to him. I am sure we will do things a bit differently, but it will also be interesting to learn from each other.

As far as whether to get chicks or hens, I am leaning towards chicks at the moment. The benefit of getting hens is that they are already laying eggs and are easier to take care of. There are lots of reasons to get chicks, though. One reason is that they are so darn cute. The kids will LOVE the chicks. I can just hear Moira saying how cute they are. The chicks will get used to us faster than hens would, too. That will be helpful when they are out roaming around and the kids come bursting out the door. I do remember reading (this article, again!) that if you want your chickens to forage for themselves, it is better to get chicks because they are smarter, or at least capable of learning. If we get hens and the hens have not had to forage, they won’t learn.

Chicks will require a bit more work, especially if we get them when the weather is still cool since we will have to keep them warm somehow. This article gives me some ideas. In fact, we have a guinea pig cage that my sister-in-law gave us that might work really well for a while. And the forums at Back Yard Chickens is really helpful, too. Of course, the best advice is to get the chicks in midsummer. I like that idea, but that’s so long to wait! I am impatient to get started with some chicks.

So right now I’m thinking we’ll get chicks. The next question is what kind and how and when to get them. That means more reading and talking, of course. I’ll have to talk to our neighbor and see where he is getting his – and when!