Time for chicks!

We had a long winter with little to no eggs. Getting 0-3 eggs a day,  I was forced to buy eggs from the store! I forget how spoiled we are until I eat eggs from a store. It’s like eating those ice cream dots instead of Haagen Daz.
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Although our girls have picked up production now, we always add new chicks every year to replace the older girls (3-4 years old) that have stopped laying.

IMG_7249We love lots of variation in egg color so this year we added:

  • 10 Ameraucana (blue & green eggs)
  • 5 Black sex link (brown eggs)
  • 3 Barred Rock (Brownish/pink eggs and I just like the look of these girls)
  • 5 Road Island Red (Light brown eggs. They are not the prettiest, but they are prolific layers)
  • 2 White Leghorn (White eggs)

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We always buy a few more then we need to cover the losses and roosters. Our motto is “If it crows, it goes”.  When were learning about chickens I read a post from a lady that terrified me. She said they raised all their kids around chickens and roosters and never had any problems. Then one year her 2 year old grandson was visiting and went to collect eggs with her and the rooster jumped up and pecked him in the eye. He ended up loosing almost all vision in that eye.

That was all I needed to hear. Its just not worth it. Many have tried to convert me to the benefits of a rooster, but I would rather loose a few birds to a predator each year and have beautiful chickens. Roosters can trash the feathers on the hens, they start to look like haggard old showgirls. So… “If it crows, it goes”

Once we bring the chicks home we start them off in a large horse feeding trough with heating lamps and a mirror or old CD.  If the chicks have something reflective to peck at they usually do not peck each other.  Chicks are pretty easy to take care of but in the beginning they can get Pasty butt. Yes, Pasty butt is as gross as it sounds. It occurs in baby chicks when their droppings stick to the tiny feathers (down) around their vent. So basically they can get a poop plug that if not taken care of quickly can lead to death.  The good news is, its super easy to fix. You just hold the chicks bum under slightly warm water as you gently massage the poop to break it up and get it all out. Dry the chick well and put her back under the heat lamp.

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Really my favorite thing about baby chicks is the chirping sound they make and how mesmerizing they are to watch and play with.

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You need to enjoy them when they are cute and fluffy because in a very short time they hit their teenage stage and they look downright scary.

~The Country Chick

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Backyard chickens the easy way

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When people hear we have chickens they often say “I would love to have chickens, but they are so much work.” Honestly, I think a dog is more work than the chickens. You have to train dogs, they chew furniture and you have to clean up their poop.  Don’t  get me wrong I LOVE our dogs, but they are way more work than our 50+ chickens.  Although we still have to occasionally clean the coop by hand, here are a couple of things we discovered that make chickens easier than ever!

To keep chickens safe from predators they need to have a secure place to roost at night.  For years, I would go out at sunrise to let the girls out.  This required donning a cute bathrobe and muck boots and walking out in the cool morning.  Then at dusk, after the girls had returned to the coop, we would need walk out again and close it up.  This was a significant pain, because in the morning you can’t  sleep in and someone always had to be home around dusk, so predators didn’t get our girls.

After much research and even a few DIY ideas from my husband, we found an automatic coop door online and decided to try it.  We have two Chickenguard’s from Foy’s Pigeon Supplies (we have two coops).  You can put it on a timer if you like, but we use the adjustable light sensor.  The door opens automatically at sunrise and closes at dusk.  If you didn’t know, chickens have an innate behavior to roost every night, so they always return to the coop before dark.  The Chickenguard is a bit expensive, but well worth every penny.  In over 3 years, it has never failed.  We change the batteries once a year and that’s it. (no power needed, just batteries)

www.foyspigeonsupplies.com

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 See that little plastic dot? That’s the light sensor outside the coop

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So many chickens go through lots of water.  In the hot summer months we would have to refill the water fonts 2-3 times a day. We now have chicken nipples. Yes, Maddona had a good idea. We have metal chicken nipples and they are awesome! Hooked up to a hose bib, the system reduces the water pressure and always has fresh water available at the nipple.  I guess it is similar to the hamster water bottles with a ball, but I think the chickens like the nipples better because they are long like a worm!

There are several Youtube videos on how to make these, but after a year of trying different setups and becoming frustrated by water pressure issues, we broke down and bought one from HERE.  http://chickenfountain.com

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As for cleaning the coops, that’s super easy too… we use child labor 🙂

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~Chanel