The Old Chatham Barred Rocks at Applewood
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Brooder day 1 - this picture is of the eight baby chicks, just out of the shipping crate. they were a little unsteady at first, but after a few minutes they started running around and pecking at the litter. they even tried to jump out! hmm. may need that top fence soon...
Closeup day 1 - little puff balls! Thanks to HMMooreNiver for the next 2 pictures!
Mr. Squeak pets chicks. He really likes the shavings. We did have some pasty butts for the first few weeks, but none too bad. A little warm water to clean up, and a little olive oil seemed to keep things clean for a couple days afterward. I think I was most surprised at how FAST they got big! they lived in the kiddie pool (with a chicken wire roof) for about 5 weeks, and then we put them in a giant shipping crate (with a chicken wire roof!) until we finished the coop. Of course, if we did it all over, we'd build the stupid coop FIRST.
We lucked out and ended up with eight hens out of eight chicks. If we had ended up with a rooster, we had planned a chicken dinner, but never got the chance!
We managed to keep everyone alive until chicken adolescence. One bird got spooked by something in the yard and flew around INSIDE the coop, struck a window and broke it's own neck. I heard the noise, but didn't check right away (dumb) so missed out on my first opportunity to discover how to clean a chicken for the pot.
here is the finished coop and run. it still needs paint, and i need to finish the ceiling insulation before winter, but all is working well so far. one of these days i will make a good building plans page and enter nifty's contest!
and here is a photo of one of the flock.
and this is what hen feathers look like closeup:
I am very happy to have started raising chickens. Not only are they fascinating to watch, our kids get to grow up knowing where food comes from. Our son already enjoys taking care of the birds, and plays with them every day.
I'm also pleased with the Barred Rock breed. They are very quiet and gentle.
UPDATE! we got our first eggs! such a pretty color, i'd call it beige. The old 'golf ball trick' is working great! All the hens are laying in the nest boxes with the golf balls, and not in the coop or yard.
MORE UPDATE: It's been more than a year since we started our little chicken adventure, and it's been nothing but great. I've met a ton of people this way, and found the local swap at New Lebanon (twice yearly) and plan on adding to the flock in the early spring.
a happy hen.
i had some folks tell me they didn't like barred rocks because they were flighty, and didn't lay many eggs compaired to other breeds. i have found the opposite to be true!
these hens have been curious, and occasionally allow themselves to be picked up. we intend to eat these birds, so i am GLAD they haven't become endearing pets! they are livestock after all. once they started laying, they kept it up all winter. i had no heat or light in the coop, and they went from christmas to march laying a flock total of one or two eggs a day. all other times, they lay a flock range of four to seven eggs a day. pretty awesome!
we have a homemade water heater, but that's all they needed. i use deep litter, and a drop 'ceiling' over their perches, and a 'vestibule' at the pop door. no frostbite, no frozen eggs.
one thing i didn't know about chickens. they don't like snow! they only ranged when there was no snow on the ground. other wise, they would run out of the coop, and sit on my deck all day. walking back and forth, looking at the coop and trying to figure out how to get there without putting their feet back in the snow. this picture is their first spring day out of the coop, in late march or so.
My plan is to add another 8 birds, maybe 10 in the spring. i think i may stay with barred rocks, or i may switch over to Chanteclers, as I have been fascinated with heritage breeds. If i do go to Chanteclers, I would be breeding, so i am not quite sure how to get this setup, and keep all the neighbors and my husband happy with this plan.
i hope to finish my hen house page next!!