Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Chickens 2017 - The chicks

   You know those kind of people who are prepared for things before they commit?  I'm not really one of those people.  Usually I have some kind of idea, especially if it is my idea and not being forced upon me.  But I am never totally prepared.  I was in the middle of the dining room built-in buffet project when I committed to having my son's birthday party a few years ago.  So, in true fashion, I put in an order for 60 meat chicks when I had no home for the chicks (cold outside) and no coop for the chickens.

  So, Yes!  I put in my order and payment for 60 meat chicks, with one week to get a brooder ready, and 6 layers chicks, due 3 weeks later.  The layers are coming from a friend who is putting some of her fertilized eggs  in the incubator this week. I was not able to go with a local breeder for the broilers, so they came from the Family Farm & Home, on sale.  Which is why I went ahead and ordered them even though I wasn't ready.

Failure #1: Last year we did we did 10 chicks inside the house.

   They started in a tub in the bathroom, then in the actual bathtub (thank goodness for a second bath), then outside in an enclosed mobile coop.  We decided after that - no more chickens in the bathroom.  It needed a total wash-down and airing out for days.  Not again, no, thank you.

This is what we came up with for the chicks in our unfinished basement.  We did change to all red lamps for heat, hanging right in the middle, and a white lamp hanging from ceiling for light during the day.  We only had one heat lamp, feeder and waterer, and the wire shelf, so everything we had to buy.

Failure #2:  60 chicks grow really fast.

   Did you know that 60 chicks take six times more room, food, and water than 10 chicks? Who knew?  Okay, I'm no idiot, I knew that.  But this was the difference between knowledge and wisdom.  Knowing and understanding are not always the same thing.  We quickly ran out of room for these chicks to be comfy.  We had them split up, first into 3 tubs, then 4, and we were filling food at water in each tub 3 times a day - 4 by the time they moved outside.  They had feathers, but not fully feathered out, and the temperature was still too low to go without heat lamps, but they were about 2 days away from not being able to move around inside the tubs any more. So we had to make their outside home work, ready or not.

   Quick note: I added about a tablespoon of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar to a gallon of water for them from day 2, and they had no problem.

Failure #3: Dead chickens.

   We did lose one chick the first day, one chick the third day, and another chick after a week and a half.  Every one of them were found under other birds, apparantly smothered.  I ordered 10 more than we actually need for loss and give aways, so that wasn't an issue.  It bothered me, though, these poor little guys, getting squished when they had plenty of room, and heat - even in the middle of the night they were next to each other, but not huddled in a solid mass.  I'm told this happens, and we haven't lost any more since.  I used it as a teachable moment and moved on.

   Next up...the broiler coop project. Until then,

Joyfully yours,

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