Once the weather warms up around here, you have to run to keep up with everything. There is weeding and planting; weeding and watering; weeding and mowing; weeding and tending livestock and…well you get the idea.
This week I picked up chick’s at the hatchery. I could have got them from any feedstore, but I like to have a better selection than Rhode Island Red or some other popular breed. I like to be able to collect eggs without having to keep one eye on the door, ready to run in the event that a chicken decides to… A-T-T-A-C-K! I prefer the more docile breeds. I ordered a Buff Orpington, three Ameracana (a.k.a. Easter Egger), a Delaware, and a Black Star. The hatchery always adds a couple of free chicks…mystery chicks…figure out what breed they are. When I got home I discovered not two, but four free chicks! So what was an order of six chicks, became ten. 😑 One of the mystery chicks is a Black Star, one is a second Orpington, and then two ??? I am guessing that they are possibly Australorps.
I love the sweetness of Ameracana chickens. I have two grown hens that are 1-1/2 years old. One (named Cadbury) lays olive eggs; the other one (Jelly Bean) lays sky blue eggs. I have a Marans, named Cocoa, that lays milk chocolate colored eggs. I have one Red Star that lays jumbo brown eggs. I have a Sussex named Cameo that lays medium sized rose colored eggs. I have Wyondotte, named Wynona, that lays small, thin shelled eggs, very light tan eggs. I know that at least two birds will be culled before Winter.
Then there is my “catbird” 😊 His name is Tiny.
I have raised several groups of chicks over the past 20+ years but always in the Spring. The feed stores and hatcheries advertise the chicks and that is when I have always gotten them. But this year I ordered chicks in August from My Pet Chicken. No, my chickens are not pets. They are farm chickens that are raised for eggs. Anyway, the timing was right to buy chicks so I did.
In the Spring in the northern U.S. the weather is always unpredictable and sometimes the power goes out and when you are trying to keep your brooder warm that can be a challenge, to say the least. So I set up a brooder in the garage with my Brinsea in August and all went well.
I used a wire dog kennel that has a solid floor that I lined with shelf liner to prevent them from slipping. I attached cardboard on the sides with zip ties to reduce drafts even though the garage stayed at 75 – 80 degrees. They got under the Brinsea when they needed to during the first few weeks until their feathers came in. Once they had feathered out I removed the Brinsea brooder since they never got under it anymore. Remember, it was August and the garage was 75+ degrees. They never were cold. They also appreciated having more room to jump onto the roost and fly off it to the other end of the kennel.
As they grew they needed a roost. I used a utility knife and cut a slot in the cardboard and slid in a stick that rested on the wires of the kennel. The chicks love the occasional treat of dandelion leaves and grass shown in the picture above.
After six weeks in the kennel they were ready to move to the chicken house. I was ready too as they get soooo active and bored so you cannot open the cage without them wanting to fly out and they are chickens and chickens are messy!
Here they are in the chicken coop.
They should start laying by late January to early February. I’m not sure how the molting process will go in their first year. Normally they molt after their first full year in the Autumn when they are hatched in the Spring. Anyone have any experience with an Autumn hatch?
I have two Marans, one Red Star, one Sussex, and two Easter Eggers. Should be a colorful egg basket!