chickens


Last year I raised 15 baby chicks from 1 day to about 10 weeks old when we transferred them to my daughter Lauren’s chicken coop. Last year we ordered 2 Ameraucana chicks and only got 1. The Ameraucana’s lay a pale-green to pale-blue colored egg and are often referred to as Easter Eggers. I just placed my order with McMurray hatchery in Iowa. McMurray requires that you order a minimum of 25 birds. So, I ordered 12 Ameraucana and 13 Cuckoo Marans. The Cuckoo Maran chickens lay the darkest brown colored eggs and are know as Chocolate Eggers. The earliest the Cuckoo Marans were available to order this past week was May 9th. So our chicks will be shipped on May 9th and should arrive here on May 12th. In the meantime I need to get a brooder set up in the garage. The chicks have got to have a heat lamp so they can be kept near 95 degrees F the first week and 5 degrees lower each succeeding week. Lauren will introduce 4 of the new chicks to her flock. The rest I will sell on the Dallas Farm & Garden Craigslist.

This image is from backyardchickens.com

This image is from backyardchickens.com
The pale-blue eggs are Ameraucana; the dark brown eggs are Cuckoo Maran eggs

Saturday we went to Lauren’s so I could mount the rod across the nesting boxes to allow the chickens something to perch on to get into the second level of boxes. When we got there, there were three eggs in the nesting boxes and one that had been laid on the ground. The orange rod makes a nice colorful addition to the nesting boxes. We just need to wait to see if the chickens make use of it.

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Yesterday, the day after putting the nesting boxes in the coop, Lauren surprisingly found two eggs in the bottom right nesting box. Lauren said she never saw any of the chickens anywhere near the nesting boxes. But when she checked yesterday morning the two eggs were there.

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Lauren's First Egg - 05 Sept 2010

Lauren’s 15 chickens laid their first egg last Sunday, 5 Sept 2010. I started in earnest building her a set of roosting boxes.
The chickens were born on April 15, 2010. The books say they should start laying at 5 months. The chickens will be 5 months old in four days.
Today I finished the roosting boxes. Today when I took them to Lauren’s coop, we found the 3rd egg on the ground in the hay. So, looks like I got the roosting boxes there in the nick of time. Lauren’s favorite color is purple. The school colors where I teach (Richland College) are purple and green – thus the colors for the nesting boxes. The books say you need one nesting box for every 3 or 4 chickens. We have 6 nesting boxes for 15 chickens. So, we should be good. It will be interesting to see which nesting boxes the chickens use. I know they like to be high; so I would bet that the top boxes will get the most use. Stay tuned, I’ll let you know how it goes.

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chigger on dime

chigger on the edge of a dime

Original Entry:
In preparation for building a chicken coop in my daughter Lauren’s back yard, I wanted to find a way to get rid of the ever-present chiggers. I have been visiting this property for almost 50 years, and there has always been a problem with chiggers in that yard. I’ve read that chiggers are a real irritant to chickens, and can even kill young chickens. So, something has got to be done about the chigger problem before we build the chicken coop to protect the defenseless chickens. Our baby chicks arrive in 11 days.

In researching what can be done, I ran across an Eco-Friendly organic solution – a pesticide based on clove oil and thyme oil. I found it here on DoMyOwnPestControl.com. It’s not cheap, but hopefully it will do the job.

Follow Up:
After much research and debating on the best and Eco-Friendly way to get rid of the chiggers, we decided that Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth was the best way to go. I found it at Roach Feed and Seed here in Garland, TX. D.E. is good for eradicating all kinds of small bugs including roaches and silver fish. It is good around people and pets. You just don’t want to get it airborne and inhale it. It is really bad for your lungs. You can apply D.E. around your baseboards with a dry paint brush. People and pets can get diatomaceous earth in their mouths with no ill effects. In fact Food Grade D.E. can eliminate worms in pets and humans. We have mixed D.E. with the wood shavings in the chicken coop to keep the chiggers from getting to the chickens. Some precautions in using D.E. can be found Here and Here.
 
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Yesterday we started in earnest to complete the chicken coop. I am leaving on vacation in 3 days and the chicks have to be out of the cardboard box and into their coop before then. The plan is for the move to take place tomorrow. We have 15 chickens. The coop and run are 12′ X 12′.

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I went to Tractor Supply today to get some chicken feed. While I was there I looked around and decided to get some bird seed. I got a 50 lb bag of classic mix. Looking at the photo on the front of the bag, I didn’t think there were enough sunflower seeds, particularly because I also feed the wild bird seed to the chickens as a treat. So, I also got a 40 lb bag of black oil sunflower seeds.

For $30.98, I got 90 lb of bird seed. This is a lot better deal than the $19.99 I spent last time at another feed store for 20 lb of bird seed.

Bird Food
Classic Mix Bird Seed

Classic Mix Bird Seed

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

These chicks are almost 4 weeks old (25 Days). They are now looking more like chickens than chicks. They sure grow fast! Because, they have grown so, I have expanded their habitat by adding another couple of 18 inch square boxes. These new boxes are also taller then the four original boxes.

As soon as I got the hole cut into the new box and put it in place all the chickens were in the new area scratching up a storm to check it out.

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It is three weeks to the day since we received our chicks from the hatchery. All 15 are still going strong. Today for the first time one of the chicks jumped up on the edge of the brooder box. So, it’s time to put a cover on it to keep them from escaping.

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