Here, chickie chickie chickie!
Posted by joeabbott on July 11, 2015
I wrote about the massive upgrades our chicken coop and other areas saw this past few months (the coop expansion, the leveling of the area behind the coop, the new storage shed for feed/supplies) but it was all about getting a few more chickens. We’ve had as many as eight hens in our yard before, but had a flock of only three for a long while. And, as they were getting a bit older, we were netting maybe 5-6 eggs a week … when they were laying. We went from late January to late March without a single egg.
I’m fine having chickens around who aren’t providing eggs … we get a lot of enjoyment seeing them peck-peck-peck about … but I really like the eggs! So, we decided to get more hens.
We started with a large batch of less-than-24-hour-old chicks and saw more than we’d like die within the first day. And then, after we integrated our new chicks with the existing hens, we found two of the chicks were roosters! So, we got rid of the roosters. But, as we were surrendering the roosters to a Rooster Rescue, the place we were dropping them off had more chicks. And not just a few … well over a dozen varieties!
And so we picked up six more chicks.
Yes, a bit insane, but we were thinking we may lose one or two of those and we really were just filling in the flock on birds we’d already lost. You see, when Suzy selects hens, she’s looking for specific size, personality, feather color, and egg color. When we lost so many of the original set, we lost desired hen traits that “needed” to be backfilled! Or so I tell myself.
We started by thinking we might get away with leaving them in a cardboard box during the brooding stage, but the brooder we had setup was so nice … both for the chickens and us … that we ended up pulling it out and using that. With the large area and ease of keeping it clean, we think it’s both healthier for the birds and leads to less stress.
Our temp coop is made up of six 4’x5’ panels that we screw together; we then will sink bricks into the ground and provide a tarp cover. Because it’s a lot of work to setup, we went a different route for this setup. We screwed four of the panels into a square and then used another panel for a roof, which we then cover in tarp. Rather than sink bricks into the ground, we just screwed a plywood panel on the bottom and we have a bulletproof setup!
For the brooder on the inside, I simply built a rectangular box that spans the back half of the temp coop, raised it of the ground by about 18”, and build an Escheresque stairway so they could easily get in an out (there was too little space to make a ramp).
We look forward to letting the hens out of the temp coop so they can socialize and integrate into our flock, but having so many hens on the property will be interesting. We have the room (we allow them to free-range), the coop is easily big enough, and Suzy keeps their facilities spotless with daily cleaning, but there will be a lot of them.
But, for a while at least, we won’t have to worry about being without eggs!