How To Raise a Flock of Chickens-Part Two
Brooding Dog Crate for Baby Chicks
Remember those adorable little baby chicks we got in the mail? They're teenagers now! It's amazing how quickly they grow up. We've moved them from the dog crate in the coat room in our house into a section of the outbuilding where our other chickens live last week. They're separated and they've still got a heat lamp, but they're on their way to becoming full grown birds.
We keep our chickens in the back half of an outdoor shed we jokingly refer to as 'the yard shack.' The larger building belongs to the chickens and the cottage is where our pot bellied pigs live. There is a full size door that opens into the chicken's area in the shed with hanging feed bins, a heated water dispenser and dowels for them to roost on at night. My husband built the wall that separates the front of the shed for storage and the back where the chickens live. He also built some nesting boxes in which they lay their eggs. We keep those filled with clean straw. We can access the boxes from the outside so we don't have to worry about that mean old rooster when we gather the eggs. Chickens lay on average once every 1.5 days, so during the heavy laying season that's a lot of eggs! If you don't provide a light for them, they 'go on strike' during the shorter days of winter. As I mentioned in my last post, it's a matter of getting the eggs up front or getting them over time. A chicken only has so many eggs.
Our baby pullets are getting fresh water and starter feed daily. The older chickens get water, oyster shells (which help provide calcium), layer feed and access to the outside world for yummy bugs and grasses. It's important to remember that baby chicks are a tasty treat to many predators, including hawks. If you do give them access to the outdoors without supervision, bird netting on top of their run is important. Dig the fence in about 3 feet deep to prevent raccoons and other stealthy predators access. Make sure the fence openings are small enough to prevent the chicks from getting loose. When we first moved in here six years ago, I had many a chicken chasing episode before leaving to go on-air at QVC. I know my Amish neighbors got a kick out of watching me all dolled up for TV running around the yard after errant chickens.
These Ameracauana chickens are super sweet, Avalon has befriended one bird she's named Pickles. Pickles loves to come out of the coop and sit on Avalon's arm. It's really cute. We've had absolutely no picking problems. After the last time we brooded and the bins of injured chicks, it's been a relief.
I'll keep you posted as these little chicks grow up. Having backyard chickens really is a wonderful family activity. You can't beat farm fresh, free range eggs either!