Category / Seasonal Care

Chickens Coop Care Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 4 of a 5 Part Series

THE FIRST SIX WEEKS

I think that you will be utterly amazed at the pace in which these adorable little chickens grow! Don’t blink because you will miss it! Take the time to enjoy them.  They should start to develop a pecking order. Every flock has one.  By watching your flock, you will be able to determine things such as; Who eats first?  Who eats last?  Who seems like an outsider?  Who sleeps next to whom?  Who plays together?  Who is the smartest one?  Who is the fastest?  Your answers will help to determine their pecking order.  The idea of a pecking order is hardwired into every chicken from days when they had to survive in the wild.  Each chicken will have a role.  These roles are fought for or settled on depending on how the chickens jockey for position.  There is not much you can do to change it.  Once a true order is established, it should not change.   The only exception to this is if you add or subtract anyone from the flock.  Of note, roosters are not part of the pecking order.  Roosters are separate from the hens in this manner.  If you have more than one rooster, there will be an alpha rooster and the other will be submissive to him.  They may fight now and then and sometimes it is deadly.  The rooster’s role is to be a protector of the flock and to fertilize eggs.  If a predator attacks, it is the rooster that will sacrifice himself for the sake of the girls.

Chickens Coop Care Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 3 of a 5 Part Series

THE ART OF CHICKEN HOMEMAKING/ CREATING A BROODER

As the arrival of your chicks quickly approaches, you will need to create a brooder.  This will be their home for about the next 6 weeks.  For their first week of life, the chicks will need the brooder temperature to be about 95 degrees F.  This is maintained by your heat lamp.  As each week passes, the temperature is lowered by 5 degrees until you reach the outdoor equivalent or they are fully feathered.  When we had our chicks delivered in June, temperatures were already in the 70s outside.  At six weeks of age, they transitioned outside.   Our mid-July temperatures were in the mid-eighties at that point.  We only used the heat lamp with the 250 watt bulb for about 2 weeks.  After that, I used a regular household light bulb of various wattages in the heat lamp.  Some people create brooders in their bathtubs, living space, or sheds.  Just remember that chickens are messy, sometimes stinky and produce dust in this stage.  Thus, we set our brooder up in the garage.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 2 of a 5 Part Series

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GOING SHOPPING

Preparing for the arrival of the chicks was so exciting!  It was almost like Christmas.  We counted down and with each passing day, our anticipation rose!   In our household, it was a family affair.  I ordered the chicks in February for a June delivery date.  Why did I wait so long?  Well, I had a few reasons.  I wanted to do more research about their permanent coop and run.  I also knew that the chicks would grow very quickly.  In fact, at about 6 weeks they look like mini-chickens!  I wanted the kids participate in the experience as much as possible, so I waited until summer vacation.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 1 of a 5 Part Series

So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way.  However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier.  So, lets start at the beginning.  How do I get the chickens?

Chickens Coop Care Seasonal Care Stories from Our Nest

Colder Days, Planning for Winter

This will be my first Winter with the girls.  Cape Cod doesn’t get too cold, but it has really gotten me to thinking about the coop and run set up as well as freezing waterers and nasty weather ahead.  As a hobbist chicken raiser, we are not doing this on a very large scale.   Our maximum flock size will mostlikely be about 12 girls, 6 of those being bantams.  It is difficult to even find small feeders and waterers that are not hobbist size for adult chickens and most smaller versions are for little chicks.

My coop is 3’x4′ and the run is 6’x9′.  I am currently using the plastic Little Giant 3 pound feeder.  I have placed it upon 2 bricks elevating it above the pine shavings in the coop.  The waterer is outside in the run.  That too is a Little Giant 2 gallon galvanized metal waterer. 

That being said, I am now looking into making the winter easy for the girls and for me too.  There are numerous options from heated pet bowls, plastic waterers with an area to plug and extension cord into, as well as a metal heater base for the waterers to sit upon.  The reviews are mixed on all choices.  Thus, here in lies the difficulties.  I guess this conversation will have to be continued…