So, it has been nearly two weeks since our chickens got their new coop. But they still won’t use it… and we are still being forced to pluck them out of trees at night. How do you get chickens to use a new coop?
Our chickens finally have a coop. They are approximately three months old. We have three Rhode Island Reds and one Ameraucana. The coop did not take long to assemble. The biggest problem was that I am a graduate student, so I had zero time to put it together during the school year.
But now all my classes are finally done, and I finished grading papers. So I started working on the chicken coop Friday, June 15th… and I worked on it Friday, Saturday, and finished it Monday (today). Apparently grad school sapped my strength… because the motorcycle shipping crate seemed much heavier than I expected. Sitting around and studying 6 to 12 hours a day is probably not great for my muscles. Anyway… the coop is finished.
The crate was a deal from craigslist. The cost for the wooden motorcycle shipping crate was $75 (U.S.), the paint (which was on discount) and other supplies were less than $20 (U.S.). The coop measures four feet by eight feet… and has an 8 foot wooden beam inside for the chickens to roost on. So, a very large coop for under $100.
The last couple weeks my wife and I have started finding our chickens in strange places. They have been roosting on top of the rabbit cages… or roosting in the trees above our heads. Hopefully we can get them accustomed to getting into the coop. Yes, I am still new at this… but it is still hard for me to reconcile the fact that I found my chickens in the trees. Really, in the trees? What strange places have you found your chickens?
So my wife walked into the backyard today, and found these crawling in the grass and on the path. We didn’t even know the rabbit was pregnant!! The mother rabbit pulled fur “after” giving birth… thankfully we didn’t step on any of the them. They all seem healthy and doing fine.
This is an update on the chickens. In approximately two weeks, we will begin butchering the white chickens (Cornish Cross). We are keeping the Ameraucana and Rhode Island Red chickens for egg layers. The Cornish Cross have grown freakishly fast in the 6 weeks we have owned them. My wife and I knew that the Cornish would grow quickly, but it is still a surprise. We are going to weigh them tomorrow.
In the video, you can really see the size of the Cornish when they walk next to the milk jug. Currently they eat a half pound of food every day (each). Honestly I know very little about chickens. My wife and I had chickens last year … and we have them this year. But, in total, I still have less than one year of chicken raising experience. These chickens seem healthy… and the egg layers are healthy.
The egg layers are lightning fast too. I wonder if the egg layers are really that fast… or if they look fast when compared to the lumbering Cornish Cross chickens…
My wife spotted a small possum in the chicken run yesterday. I have not seen it yet but we are definitely concerned about it. Possums can eat chickens… and eggs… sigh…
So, the Rhode Island Red and Cornish Cross chicks are approximately 4 weeks old. The Ameraucana chicks are approximately 3 weeks old. At what age do they stop being chicks and become chickens? I’m still new at this backyard farming gig. We had egg laying chickens last year, but they stopped laying. So this year we have a brand new batch (literally). The Cornish Cross are meat chickens that my wife wanted… and as a compromise I got egg laying chickens.
In addition to the chickens, we hope to have the garden planted within the next week.
So why do we have a backyard farm? I won’t speak for my wife… but I have the following reasons:
- To have control over what antibiotics, if any, get fed to
- To know what actually gets fed to the livestock– our eggs have dark yellow yolks, whereas the typical store bought egg is undernourished and has a pale yellow yolk.
- To know what pesticides, if any, are used in my garden.
- To know if the food is healthy or not… instead of depending on a hired hand to make the judgement 1000 miles away who may not care because he’s just getting a paycheck.
- To know if the food was genetically modified.
- To get out of the house and work instead of watching tv 12 hours a day. Being self sufficient is great!
- To know there is not pink slime or other goodies added to enhance the final product.
As I look over these I notice I have a theme of controlling where my food comes from. Does that mean I’m a control freak? I don’t know.
If you have a backyard farm, why do you have it?