Welcome to my chicken story. I saw an article in Sunset Magazine almost 2 years ago on raising backyard chickens and it got me thinking about the chickens we had when I was in grade school. I started researching chickens and found BYC.com. That led to many lost weekend days, just lurking on the message boards....and also, I am convinced, is the source of my "chicken addiction". After almost a year of trying to convince my husband that this was a great idea, and months of drawing plans for a chicken coop, he finally caved. We got our first six day old
chicks on April 9, 2010. I fell in love immediately. Two of each, Buff Orp, Barred Rock, and Black Sex Link (Rhode Island Red crossed with BR). They started out life in a large Rubbermaid container, but soon moved on to a brooder. My 13 year old cocker spaniel decided chicken TV was the best thing ever.
Of course, they were growing so fast, we knew we had to get a coop built. The long and dramatic story of our coop is on my other page....suffice it to say, the coop is now finished and just in time for the girls who started laying the day after it was complete! Of course, no one ever stops at one small flock of birds....I was at the feed store about a month after I got the first girls, and there was an injured guinea keet. Of course I couldn't let the feed guys cull the baby.....have you ever seen a 2 day old guinea keet? This is when the value of the BYC community really became apparent to me. I wrote for help and got lots of advice. Someone sent me a link to splinting chicken spraddle leg and the rest is history....
Those photos are taken about 8 hours apart. This is about two weeks later.....
So, of course, you can't raise a guinea alone. And of course, it would be a waste of brooder space to only have two of anything, so I got some EE chicks....
Since then we have incorporated the guineas into the chicken flock, but the older ladies have never really accepted the three younger girls. They range together in the yard, but sleep in separate coops. Everything was great until last week when some animal killed one of my laying hens and injured another, both BR.
Update to the chicken story. My injured BR was really torn up. My daughter works at a vet and we were able to get the hen on injectable antibiotics immediately. I couldn't believe how quickly she recovered. Almost all of the feathers from her mid-back to her tail were ripped out. Within a week, she was covered with new quills that looked like armor. Amazing. She started laying again aobut 10 days after the attack and appears to now be totally recovered. Sammy is a bit of a tough girl now - apparently she feels invincible.
After 7 months of guinea screeching starting at 5 in the morning, we decided to give the neighbors a break. The guineas, who turned out to be boys had become like a hoodlum gang...picking on the ladies, and eating tons of food. They were rehomed to a small farm in the back country and last I heard, doing well.
The chicks above, who I thought were Easter Eggers turned out to be brown leghorns, which really upset me at first, but they turned out ot be my most consistent egg layers, and I have come to appreciate them and their unique look. Prior to the time they started egg laying they were very unfriendly and hard to get back into the coop - they slept outside my shed on a vine for about three months and free ranged 24/7 because I could never catch them. After the chicken attack, I had to force them back into the small coop at night. I was finally able to integrate them into the big flock after they started laying, and they are now very tame (and disciplined).
Chicken math being what it is, I also replaced my BR with four new babies. 2 sex link and 2 barred rock. So, my flock is up to 12 girls. The babies are about 4 months old and aren't laying yet. We usually get 5-8 eggs a day from 8 laying hens, even in winter.
It's now early February and I have had my chickens for almost a year. I have been waiting for baby chick season. Now I can consider raising a little 'designer' flock.....the folks on our local San Diego chicken blog say that silkies, seramas and the like don't really count in chicken math....hmmmmmmm. I swear it never gets old.
Thanks for visiting.