The 2014 Homegrown Chick Project

  1. talkingriver
    June 4, 2014

    This is my third year raising chickens! Having rehomed my two-year-olds to a nice hobby farm, where they can live out their natural lives in peace and contentment, I am left with just three one-year-old hens. Rather than get chicks from a hatchery, I decided to raise two sets of chicks from my sister's farm next door (since I don't have a roo). These are going to be various cross breeds; the daddy is a gentle giant named Turk, a Blue Orpington, and the mamas are Araucanas, Cuckoo Marans, and various brown egg layers.

    As of today, some of these are still in the shells under my broody, Slipper -- but this is Day 21! Aside from those, I have two six-week-old chicks that were hatched next door in an incubator.

    I set up a brooder area in my house, made of two UHaul wardrobe boxes, opened up and connected into a big chamber. I brought the first two home at one day old. I couldn't tell them apart so I named them Click and Clack. They are black, with a touch of white on the breast. Sex is unknown, too. They're due to go outside for good in the next few days. I've been taking them out during the nice warm daytime, and now... the brooder is just too small a world for them. They KNOW. Knowledge has made them powerful. Every time I go into the brooder room, they are perched on the rim of the 4' high giant box. They were there at 5:00 this morning when I went in and turned on the light. Judging from the pile of poops on the (luckily tarped) floor below them, they slept there. On the edge of the box. Even though there are roosts IN the box. I'm inches away from completing their outdoor shelter -- not a moment too soon.

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    Click & Clack

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    This is their temporary pen, 'til they're old enough to integrate. The laundry basket was their means of transportation outside. I have a nice 6' fence around the yard to keep predators out, and netting over the mini-pen, held up by a sapling stuck into the middle.

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    Their home for the next few weeks will be a 2'x3' dog crate, with a very elegant tarp over it and (as yet unfinished here) a slanted rain roof/awning. That yellow edging at the bottom is to hold a depth of shavings, as the cage has a shallow tray. That was originally a carport which collapsed one hard winter, and I saved the cover. That carport cover has come in handy for so many projects.

    The structure is Smidge-approved. (She will not have access to the chicks until they are big enough to be daunting to her.)

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    This is inside the 15'x30' run attached to the main coop. I live in a very old house, and there were some doors in the basement that had been removed from various parts of the house. This screen door may look like it's in rough shape, but it's beautifully made, with nice dovetailing in the corners and spring hinges that still work. I have no idea how old it is, but it's old. The top needed repair from water damage. I installed this in the back of the run so that when Slipper's chicks are big enough they can go out into a separated part of the yard. Still have to put up fencing and netting back there.

    The yellow box is our Coob (cube coop), where Slipper has her broody nest. One end has a door, and the top hinges open for cleaning and/or ventilation. More pictures of this and other exciting things soon from Chickenland!


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    June 4, 2014, Evening

    The first chick hatched while I was at work. It looks just like Click and Clack, the Araucana crosses!

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    It's almost time to close up for the night, so I'll report tomorrow if any more show up!


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    October 29, 2014

    We had a total of four. Sadly, one chick was taken by a predator one night when they were only a few weeks old. There was an unsecured spot in some netting, and the one night I chose to come home after dark, something came over the 6' fence and got into the run. Typically I am out there at the very moment they go in for the night to close everything up, so that was a rare and unfortunate occurrence.

    Happily, though, the rest thrived, and I ended up keeping the one that was male. Because they were sired by a Blue Orpington, they are all gigantic and make my older hens look tiny by comparison. And even though they were (expertly!) raised by mama, they're pretty friendly to me as well.

    Of the two older chicks I got from my sister next door, one was a male Black Orpington whom I rehomed to a nice lady with a small farm (and some REALLY happy children!), and the other, it turned out when she started to lay, is an Auracana cross. She looks just like an Australorp, only bigger, and she lays nice blue-green eggs. The others have not started to lay yet.

    Here are the three musketeers, from early in the summer:

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    Clara, Grace and Frodo.

    And, more recently, Miss Phoenix and Miss Slipper, my year and a half-olds. Yes, Phoenix has a large comb and wattles. What can I say?
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    Daphne, the Araucana cross. Hard to believe, but eggshells don't lie.
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    And sweet Frodo, who is rather shy of people but otherwise is doing all the right rooster things. This light doesn't do justice to his feathers, which have some of that shimmery green.
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    That's the update on my spoiled children. We're getting ready for colder weather here. I'm looking at Frodo's comb and hoping he doesn't suffer too much from frostbite. That can be a problem here with single combs.

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