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The Chicken Chronicles, Week Three

For last week's chicken chronicles, go here.

Week 3

It's been an exciting week in our downstairs bathroom.  Ida, the Ameraucana, (on left) is exploring her passion for aviation.  The wings are the first to feather out, so they can fly about like little sparrows when they're this size.  Well, Ida can, at least.  She wants nothing more than to get out of her box and explore the world.  Lady Bird, the Buff Orpington, is already behaving like the barnyard-dwelling, egg-brooding hen she will someday become.  She's not all that interested in flying or in exploring the world.  When we bring her out of her box, she settles on our laps as if she's already sitting on her eggs. It's amazing how fixed their personalities are.

I realized this week that we forgot to buy them chick grit, the tiny bits of rock that they can start to nibble on as a prelude the full-sized grit they'll need in their crops someday.  So I'm off to the feed store soon to pick that up.  Also, at some point pretty soon we'll add a flat board to their box so they can get in the habit of roosting, which is how they typically sleep.  Doing this now gets them used to the idea and gets their feet used to it, too.

If we didn't already have a coop, we'd be deep into the construction-and-testing phase now. Most feed stores sell ready-made coops that look something like this; while it may seem like a few hundred bucks is too much to spend on a chicken coop, unless you're very handy with tools you'll probably find that this is the way to go.  Just remember that they need to be absolutely critter-proof from underneath as well–just sitting them on the ground isn't going to do it.  Our coop is inside a shed we already had in the backyard, with a fenced run attached.  We used hardware cloth (dug down into the ground and protecting the roof from the inside) as well as a concrete/wood floor and lots of critter-proof hardware to keep skunks, possums, and raccoons out. 

Here's a hint:  Once your coop is built, put some cat food inside and lock it up.  If anything gets in to eat the food, it can also eat the chickens.

Here's another hint:  Make the door on your coop open out, not in.  Inside gets full of bedding, making the door hard to open.  These are the sorts of things we would just know if we were the sort of people who build things regularly.

Now that we're at week three, the heat lamp gets raised again so that the temperature is 85 degrees.

Posted by on March 3, 2010 at 9:01 am, in the category Uncategorized.
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7 responses to “The Chicken Chronicles, Week Three”

  1. Cindy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your chicken chronicles. I vicariously raising these chicks with you. You sound like you have done this in previous years. What happened to/with your past chickens?

  2. Michele Owens says:

    Re protecting chickens from predators: My friend Rick, who built my coop made it fly-in, by raising the entrance about three feet off the ground. The chickens have no problem with this, but other creatures can’t climb a sheer wall.

  3. Amy Stewart says:

    Cindy–We have three adult hens outside. We had four; one died(of cancer, weirdly) so we thought we’d get two more this year.

    Michele–I have seen raccoons do some amazing climbing in our yard. I like the idea of a fly-in coop but I like the idea of them being locked inside Fort Knox each night better.

  4. sara says:

    So cute! I’m not sure they need chick grit. Are they just eating the crumbles? My kids were grit free until I put them outside in their coop and attached run.

  5. Mary says:

    This is so much fun to read about, thanks for sharing Amy. I am fighting the urge to get chickens, I can buy eggs from my neighbor, and I don’t need one more thing to worry about.

  6. As for the door opening out, you might also consider putting a board across the front on the inside to keep the bedding from falling out and making the door hard to close. I believe it is calle threshold for a reason.

  7. commonweeder says:

    I love the chicken chronicles. We are in the country, and an old hen house. None of it is very aesthetic but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. You’ve given lots of good advice, but I wonder how you are managing with all the ‘chick dust’. Maybe two chicks don’t make too much. We always have more than 25 chicks at a time and I am glad we can brood them out in the hen house nursery. We make sure not to get them earlier than June.

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