Winter 2007. We started building our chicken coop in sections. We had already decided which type of birds we were going to start with: Meat and Egg combo from McMurray. 50 birds plus a few assorted varieties because I wanted to make sure I got some of the breeds I specifically wanted. We also ordered 10 for a friend who didn't want to get the minimum order of 25. I ordered the birds on April 14; they are due May 14.
April 19 We got our concrete slab poured (10 x 20').
April 22 We started assembling our coop. We had some help--Mark and his son Matt gave us a lot of help getting eveything battened down before it started raining too hard. We all still got wet before we were done.
April 24 I went out to the coop after work and put in a few more nails in the plywood walls. Rich came home later and we put up 4 sheets of plywood on the roof before it got too dark to see. We reattached the tarp on top to keep out any more rain. The forecast looks dry thru the upcoming weekend. Hopefully we can get the rest of the roof on over the weekend. I got comments from a neighbor (who is also a coworker) that he thinks our coop is pretty neat. He likes the idea of the slab underneath and the extra flashing we'll be putting up 4' around the entire coop.
May 14 We got our chicks - 79 in all. From what I 've read on BYC this is a large number, especially for first time "parents". Rich was out of town (fighting Ham Lake fire in northern MN) so I was on my own for the first couple of days. Put all chicks in one 5' kiddie pool. Cute little buggers!!!
May 21 Had 'em for 1 week. Haven't lost any yet. I separated the layers from the meat birds si I could start giving them their own feed instead of mixing both kinds together like I did the first week. Also gave them baby grit. I gave them a treat of mealworms (waxies) and they went nuts.
May 25 Went out around 10:00 pm and found 1 meat bird dead. No visible marks on it. I determined it was crop-bound as I had stopped giving them grit a few days prior. Also took food away from meat birds at nite.
May 26 Another meat bird dead.
Same as the one the night before. We cleaned both sections of the coop. That took us 2-1/2+ hours. Have resumed giving all chicks grit with their crumbles.
May 27 8:00 am Rich found 1 layer chick dead. He thinks it may have gotten smothered by the rest. We had family over (Mary's bday) and showed everybody our babies.
May 28 Memorial Day No more casualties. The meat birds are really hungry in the morning now that we've taken away their food at nite. We (Rich) built the separating wall in the coop so we could get the chicks out of the kiddie pools. Having 33 meat birds and 43 layers in their pools was just getting too crowded. Now they have their own space in the coop (approx 8 x 8 each section). Now we just have to be careful opening the doors.
May 29 7:00 am All chicks happy-coop is still at 80 degrees. They've been happy at that temp for more than 1 week. The meat birds are getting their feathers and seem to get overwarm quicker than the layers. I've been keeping a close eye on their behavior. If they start panting I turn off the heat lamp or open the window. Now the temp outside is getting just as warm during the day. The layers still seem to want to bunch up-are they scared or cold? Hard to tell.
June 12 Jim K came over to pick up his 10 chicks. I gave him a roo as a freebie cuz I still have 5-6 other roos.
June 25 We got 38 more babies (37 meat birds and 1 mystery chick).
June 26 I went to Pinehaven Farm and picked up 2 transport cages.
June 27 We brought 15 meat birds to get processed. Bye babies.
June 28 6:30 am One of the baby chicks was dead-it looked weak the night before so I wasn't surprised, just sad about it. 8:00 pm I picked up the meat birds from Pinehaven. $3.35 each to get them processed. I helped them (Pinehaven) round up 3 of their cows that broke through the fence.
June 30-July 1 We finished the outside chicken pen so now the chickies can be out all day without us worrying about something getting to them or them getting out.
July 4 We put some finishing touches on the coop-painted the screen doors, closed off the sections separating the layers from the meat birds.
Built a new layer coop 12 x 20. The original coop (8x 16) was not large enough to comfortably house both meat birds and layers.
The new coop has a huge outside pen, about 3 times larger than the original pen. We do not have netting on top but figure that the fence walls are 7-8' high no predators will get in there (we hope!).
So, now that we have two coops to raise chickies in we'll be getting one more batch of meaties done by Thanksgiving.
Mid-November 2008: Rich processed 16 meat birds about 1 week ago. It was getting cold out in the shed where we usually do them, so he did the gutting and packing in the kitchen.
SPRING 2009: Mid-March got our first batch(50) of meat birds.
Mid-May: Processed the first batch of 50 meaties.
Last week of May 2009: Got our next batch of (30) meaties in along with some layer chicks. I finally got some EEs 'cuz I wanted green eggs. Can't wait until they start laying!
October 2009: Started getting eggs (including green ones :)) from the younger girls.
December 23, 2009: Gave away 13 of our oldest girls to a couple who was just getting started with chickens. In retrospect, I'll not do that again unless I know for sure the people and/or their set-up for chickens. I had too much regret not ever knowing what happened to the girls. I talked to the people a few times after they got the girls, but then all of a sudden they just vanished and I couldn't get a hold of them. I've felt like a bad chicken mom ever since.
Valentines Day 2010: Put the new layers in with the older flock. Will keep an eye on them for pecking issues.
Early March 2010: Put an ad on Craigslist to get rid of 2 boys (SS and EE). I got calls and they were gone the first day I had them listed. The guy who got them was looking for roosters to breed with their hens so their kids could raise some chicks. I'm glad he didn't want to eat them!
March 17, 2010: Got our first batch of meaties (54).
May 15, 2010: Processed all 54 meaties. Pretty much had them all sold before they were processed. Hopefully in our next batch we'll have a few to keep for ourselves.
May 20, 2010: Got our next batch of chicks: 30 meaties and 30 assorted layers. Some of the layer chicks were for Jim K (SS).
July 10, 2010: Processed our 29 meaties along with 25 of the neighbor's. Works slick when the neighbors help-we all get our chickens done in record time-it's definitely a win-win for both of us. Now we're going to be coordinating our chicken orders so we can schedule our processing days ahead of time.
Also, cleaned out the coop (meat bird side) to get ready for the next batch.
July 15, 2010: Got our next batch of meaties (27).
Sept 11, 2010: Processing day for our 23 meaties and our neighobr's 50+. Went really well-I wish we had been doing this with them the first couple years!
Sept 12, 2010: Put our younger girls in with the older flock. Now there are 51 in the big coop: 1 Rooster and 50 girls of various ages.
Oct 6, 2010: Got the first pullet egg from the younger girls-I suspect an RIR because she looks to be the most mature. Real sweetheart and very calm too.
Oct-Nov, 2010: All the young girls started laying in this time frame with the exception of Blondie (SF) and one of the SS.
November 30, 2010: Blondie has a bad leg, won't support her so we put her in isolation. We hope she recovers enough to put her back with the rest of the flock.
Dec 1, 2010: I marvel at the olive-green shells that our younger EEs lay. The older girls are molting right now, so not laying at all. Blondie is still in isolation. She eats and drinks fine, but her comb is not getting any redder and she does not show any signs of getting back on her leg. We are watching her closely, because we really weant her to recover. Blondie is a beautiful SF and I'd hate to have to cull her.
Dec 18, 2010: Got a green egg from an older girl. I can tell 'cuz the shell color is lighter bluish-green, not the olive color the younger ones lay. Blondie shows no signs of improvement.
Dec 25, 2010: Had some unexpected company (family) and showed off some of the chickies. Usually we let them free-range in the yard, but with all the snow the chickes don't venture too far from the coop when we do open the gate!
Dec 30, 2010: Rich culled Blondie. We didn't want to keep her in isolation indefinitely and she wasn't getting any better or worse. She didn't have the good quality of life the rest of our chickes have. Not that they appreciate what they have! But they sure do provide a lot of entertainment.