User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Hello Chickens!

No chickens yet, but decided to build a coop and get chickens early this spring. Will likely couple the activity with rebuilding a large worm box or two.
The birds will probably like the wiggly treats, and the worms can multiply rapidly in the chicken enriched leaf mold to be placed in their box and in the compost bin.


The chickens can't roam the yard because of the dogs, cats, hawks, and racoons. But this 10 foot by 24 foot pen is a little over 6 feet tall. It should provide ample room for 3-6 chickens that will eventually live there. I also intend to build a few small portable pens. Those will be placed over certain bed areas or directly over composting leaves. The chickens will be able to scratch for extra food and their dropping will go directly where needed as the pens get rotated from location to location.
Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3539
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

That sounds great, Alex!

The chickens will also either uproot or eat whatever they can get to so allowing them to roam about in a garden setting just doesn't always work very well. Even on a lawn, they will dig holes in the grass, creating "dust baths."

I have had flocks of laying hens for many years. I have enjoyed allowing them to free-range for an hour or so, right before sundown but have to be out there with them. A way to deal with their scratching up perennials is to use large rocks in the beds. It finally got so that I just am not willing to let them out.

Garden veggies certainly have their place in a chicken's diet. You may be able to buy a high-protein feed at your feed store. That can mean more veggies and not relying 100% on their commercial ration.

Fresh eggs are the best :) ! Have fun!

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I intend to construct two individual nesting boxes to be placed on one end of the enclosure and will build a roosting box on the other end. Will probably just place the perch two or three feet above the ground. They shouldn't need to roost too high, as the enclosure includes wire over the top. Also, have purchase shade cloth to place over the top and west side during the hot part of the summer.

Will probably just buy what is available, but will be looking for fairly calm breed of large egg layers some of which lay reliable through the winter. Short list thus far is Leghorn, Sex Link, Rhode Island Red, Orpington, and Sussex. Will likely start with two adult layers and two pullets. Will only add as production drops or if a bird dies. Of course like anything else, the activity could become a hobby. If so, I guess the flock could end up growing in size and requiring an expanded enclosure.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

I purchased A Chicken in Every Yard by Robert and Hanna Litt. They have the Astralorps as a top 10 selling breed and is also listed as 3rd or 4th best egg layer, so would likely be an excellent choice.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3539
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

I've thought a little about the breed choices and decided to come back to say something, Alex . . . when do I ever not?

Anyway, I have often had Australorps and want to put another vote on them as a very good choice. The last ones were a bit of a disappointment in the laying department and that was a surprise. Didn't much matter because I got some Barred Rocks (had those before, too) and they were a surprise in how good of layers they turned out to be. I think the hatchery flock as a source is very important. Maybe asking the feed store what breed gets the highest marks from their customers will help.

Forget the Leghorns if you want "calm." And, if you want "really calm," go with the Orpingtons. The "orp" in Australorp shows that they are related anyway but Orpingtons have been described as the Golden Retrievers of the chicken world.

Speckled Sussex are very pretty birds, dumpy but pretty. My brother had those at one time. Rhode Island Reds get lots of "bad press" for being aggressive, especially the cocks. But, I had a RIR and he was a real gentleman. Of course, his flock was a bunch of frumpy, dumpy hens and not RIR's.

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
lorax
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1316
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2010 9:48 pm
Location: Ecuador, USDA Zone 13, at 10,000' of altitude

Can I put in a word for Araucanas (rumpless and tufted) and Quechuas (rumped and tuftless)? Love them hens. Very laid-back, low-maintenance, and fairly obedient (as far as chooks go). Prolific layers of medium sized blue to green-shelled eggs. The Quechuas are probably the nicest chooks I've ever had.

User avatar
LA47
Green Thumb
Posts: 404
Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:55 pm
Location: Idaho

I had sex links for years and found them to be excellent layers even in the winter. They were also calm and non aggresive...other than the rooster! He was a monster! They had free range of my yard, garden, and pasture and I never had a problem with them. They did not scratch, nor eat, or do any damage to my veggy garden, flower gardens, or lawn. I had chickens for about 10 years and only penned them in during the coldest parts of winter.
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Finished my chicken run and roost. This past Tuesday bought my first 6 chicks from Tractor Supply. Opted for 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 australorps.

Meet the new addition to the family:

Image

Image

Am now researching what native forage plants to provide for the critters. Will likely put a fence outside of the chicken run and will plant grasses, greens, and grains for them.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27919
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Oh cuteness!! I love Eric's duckling pics and now Alex has little chicks. :D

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Here is a chick flick. Six chicks in a three room apartment. Strange taste in wall art!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/aghenderso ... hotostream
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27919
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

That was the cutest video ever. Can't wait till my girls wake up so I can show them. :D

Ohio Tiller
Green Thumb
Posts: 463
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:39 pm
Location: Ohio

I want chickens so bad but where we live we can not have them!!

Green Mantis
Greener Thumb
Posts: 931
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Alberta, Canada zone 1a

Ohio Tiller.....We aren't supposed to have chickens either, but where we live,

it's fairly seculded, considering we are in town, well on the edge. But we

got our shed, hubby built a nice insulated house in there, and have 3 Mottled Java pullets.

After being moved they quit laying, but should be back to laying soon. :wink:

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

The chicks were moved outside for the day yesterday, for the first time. Today we decided to move them outside for good. They are in a roughly 3 feet square small pen, inside their large chicken run. I ran two lights, one for backup just in case one might burn out during the night. They have a two room apartment inside the cage. One room has a 60 watt bulb in a clip on reflector dish. The other reflector with 60 watt bulb is outside, but is under foam board cover and also has a wind shield up on two sides. So the birds have several places to go to get warm, but can also move away if the bulb heated room gets too warm.

The chicks should be warm enough as temperatures should stay well above freezing. With a pen inside a pen, hopefully nothing will be able to get to the young birds. They have most of their regular feathers but are still pretty young at somewhere between 4-5 weeks. If they do o.k. this week, then temperatures should start settling into lows in the mid to upper 40's which IMO present much less risk to the birds.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3539
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

I have even had a chick brooder without a heat source. Of course, they were in the greenhouse :wink: . The "brooder" was also multi-room cardboard boxes.

The smaller room had a stool in the corner. Well, it looked like a stool. On the underside of this stool was attached something like a quilt. It was just loosely folded flannel, tacked in place. The chicks could not stand upright under the folded flannel but they had plenty of room to crawl. They certainly didn't have room to climb on top of each other - that can be dangerous for them. Anyway, they would all crawl under their stool for the night.

Taking chicks to the garden is fun. Yours are likely to be beyond the age when that is wise, Alex. Something like a little group of Orpingtons or Brahmas will stay right at your feet. It is best to have a very slow activity like pulling weeds to keep you and the flock entertained :) .

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

Hard to believe that these chickens were just hatched in early February. They are growing very rapidly. I'll build a couple of nesting boxes in June or July. We have three Australorps and three Rhode Island Reds.

Image

Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

I moved them to finisher feed about two weeks ago, probably should have stayed on starter for another week or two, but I figured that it wasn't a big issue. I also started tossing out some scratch food and guess they will snack on that if they wish. Each day I gather spring weeds for forage. The chickens get really excited when tossed those piles of green material. They seem to like tall red sour weeds, and the clover looking, yellow flowered sour weeds best of all. I'll continue to toss them forage until I get their free range area completed. Right now I've got a maybe 50 by 75 foot area planted in rye, sweet peas, sun flowers, and corn. In another month or so, I'll fence the area and let the chickens roam and forage during the day.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Green Mantis
Greener Thumb
Posts: 931
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Alberta, Canada zone 1a

Re: Hello Chickens!

Why did you put them on finisher food? That's for meat birds?

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

From the Tractor Supply site:

"DuMOR® Poultry Grower/Finisher 15% Feed is a complete formula for growing or finishing young birds to market or laying age."

Designed for growing and finishing poultry from approximately 10 to 18 weeks of age
Provides essential nutrients for optimum growth and finishing poultry

https://www.tractorsupply.com/webapp/wcs ... _vc=-10005
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3539
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

Re: Hello Chickens!

Alex, they are called bird-brained for good reason. As them become more adventuresome, they will eat most anything. Certainly, most anything if they are bored with life in their pen.

Some folks claim that chickens won't eat things that are dangerous to them. They should try telling that to the vet who treated a hen by removing "one hundred and fifteen objects including several screws, nails, wire, pieces of glass, linoleum and a bullet were found in that little chicken." :roll:

I think that most poisonous weeds don't taste good, even to a chicken. However, I have had experience with what seemed to be a perfectly healthy pullet going into convulsions and dying after one of her first forays around the backyard. Afterwards, I discovered the 4 pullets had found the rhubarb on the other side of the greenhouse from their coop. Most of 1 leaf was eaten. I have a suspicion that it would cause a dreadful bellyache at the very least and may well have caused that chicken's death that same afternoon.

If the weeds are edible to humans or to other livestock, they are probably perfectly safe for a chicken. Once they begin laying, those eggs will be the result of nutrients in excess of what is needed for their own bodily maintenance. Some green plants just don't pack enough nutrients by pound to be a very complete food. I'm thinking of something like lettuce . . . still, the vitamins and other things in that plant may be a very healthful addition to their diet.

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

Lift Off!!!! First egg from my little flock of six birds. Guess I'll have to build a nesting box or two today.

Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27919
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: Hello Chickens!

Awesome! :D -- what will you make with it?

...hmmm that just made me think of a children's book "Guri and Gura" :lol:
:arrow: https://www.amazon.com/Guri-Gura-Rieko-N ... 0804833524
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

This is the smallest egg that I've ever seen from a large breed chicken, probably is common from an immature bird though. The egg is about half the size of a large egg. Will probably just fry it this week-end.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

Nesting box completed this a.m. Built entirely of repurposed and scraps of lumber.
Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Green Mantis
Greener Thumb
Posts: 931
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Alberta, Canada zone 1a

Re: Hello Chickens!

Good idea to have a slippery top on the nest box, makes them not roost on top. We have to do the same.
Built them a nice roost, new nest boxes, and they lay under the roost and roost on top of the nest box, :eek:
So nest boxes have to come out, and metal slippery roofing be put on. Will be putting wire under the roost.

Those little tiny eggs are cute aren't they. :) They also taste very good. :) Congrats on the first egg. :D

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

I read to make the roof angle pretty steep to discourage the chickens from getting on top. I don't think that they will be able to get on top of this one. The coup roof is too flat though, and I'll likely put a barrier up to keep them off of that space.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Green Mantis
Greener Thumb
Posts: 931
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:52 pm
Location: Alberta, Canada zone 1a

Re: Hello Chickens!

I noticed that, was a very good idea. The nest boxes we have were actually made for bantams. They would

have stayed off, not the big girls. :( So next nests will be the 5 gallon bucket type. For the big girls.

Yes it would be a good idea to make the roof a bit different, they roost every where they aren't supposed to. lol.

User avatar
digitS'
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3539
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: ID/Wa! border

Re: Hello Chickens!

Alex, get that fine looking nest box in there pronto!

It is the nest that the pullets treasure. If it has eggs in there, that's fine too but an egg kicking around on the coop floor is just some odd, oblong thing to them :? . There is a danger that it will break and the chickens will eat it. That could lead to baaad habits Image.

It may not take much convincing to get them in those nests but if they try to build a nest elsewhere, do what you can to discourage them. Yes, they are all likely to want to lay in the same nest but that's okay. A nest that amounts to a little depression in the corner of the coop may not get the same respect as a nice, comfy nestbox and, once again, they may treat an egg found there as tho' it is food . . . grrrr!

Not only is it good to keep them from roosting on top of the boxes but it should be absolutely forbidden for them to roost IN the boxes! No fouling the nests and that is exactly what roosting birds do . . .

Once they are comfortable with using the nests for the proper purpose, you may want to hang something like burlap over the front. A hen intent on laying is perfectly happy to push her way into a dark nestbox. She isn't likely to want to roost in there in the dark. When the eggs are laid in the box, they won't be seen. Bad habits once again are avoided. If I remember right, you don't have a rooster. Some of those jerks can be big trouble when it comes to egg eating but any feather-brained chicken can become a deviant :roll: . Keep 'em on the straight and narrow.

Steve
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

The photo is of the nesting box in place. I mounted the box at a much lower level than the roost perch. The chickens have become accustomed to roosting in the box every night, so I doubt that they will likely change their habit of that. I just went down and fed them some table scraps and every bird was perched in the roost box. Clearing the eggs out each day will likely avoid any bad habits, but hopefully they begin to use the nest boxes in the future. As a novice I'll just have to wait and see how things go, and adjust as is necessary.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

User avatar
hendi_alex
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3567
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Hello Chickens!

First of two forage areas is now in place. New 32 foot by 24 foot fenced in area quadruples the 10 x 24 coup area. In the future I'll put one more forage area of approximately the same size. The idea will be to move the chickens between the two areas, allowing forage material to recover or renew. This fall the chickens will have to stay in the coup for a few weeks after we plant a fall and winter mix of forage plants.

Grand total of four eggs were produced this week. Just the start of what we hope is a steady stream of fresh, high quality chicken eggs.

Image

Image
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Return to “Chickens/Ducks, Goats, and other Livestock”