Hen Pecked! Introducing New Pullets to the Flock

We’ve only started keeping chickens in March, but Im already addicted! It seems like I’m adding to my flock every week and we’ve never had any problems. Whenever I buy new chickens, I keep them in a carrier and put them in front of the coop during the day, so the other chickens can get familiar with the new arrivals. That night, I stick them in the coop and usually try to watch over them the next morning just to make sure the transition went smoothly. Easy peasy!

However about two weeks ago, I bought three new chickens. They were young pullets only about 6-8 weeks old. I had a feeling that with their small size out wouldn’t be so easy. Things seemed alright that night in the coop, however the next morning, the smallest of the pullets had a bald spot that wasn’t there the day before. (Her feathers are already starting to grow back in)

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Most of the research I’ve read suggests removing the chickens if the pecking leads to bleeding. Her injury wasn’t that bad, but I was worried, mostly because of the size of the patch and the small size of the pullet. So I immediately got some fencing, and set up a run for the little ones.

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I also put up some wooden boards I had lying around, so that they had a shady place to hide.

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It’s been a little about two and a half weeks of them staying in the run during the days, and going into the coop with the rest of the flock at night and everyone has been getting along.

They seem ready to integrate with the rest of the flock (trying to run out in the morning instead of going into their designated area), but I think I’ll keep them separated for a few more weeks, at least until they’re closer in size to the older chickens.

 

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The Care and Feeding of Goats

So now that we’re taking care of three wonderful goats, the most immediate question is how much should we feed them? Their previous home didn’t include much pasture for them to graze one and the owners told us they fed them about a cup of grain and one section of hay each day. I was initially surprised, because it didn’t seem like a lot of food for three dwarf goats, but after doing some research, I found out their’s not much consensus on what and how much to feed goats.

What I came away with is that they shouldn’t receive much grain (which is why they’re only given a cup among the three of them). It seems like grain is more of a junk food for them, so I’ve currently cut down how much grain they get, since they have so much pasture to graze on, and I’ll go back to giving them one cup in the winter, when they’ll  have less weeds to eat.

From my google research it seems hay is a bit more controversial. Some sites said if they’re grazing, they only need hay if you’re milking them, but others said they give them as much hay as they want to eat.

Right now it’s fall and they while they don’t have as much of a variety to graze on, I have been using the cooler temps to do some weeding.

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That’s right, they’ve been getting about four of these a week. And they seem to love it!

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Still, since winter is fast approaching, I’m going to continue feeding them the same amount of hay and see how they do in the spring.

How To Find the Right Chicken Coop While On a Budget

Since we’ve moved into the house, I’ve been pretty anxious to get my farm life started. Matt and I decided it would be easiest to start off with getting some chickens, so I’ve spent the past few weeks researching and pricing coops like crazy.

Whenever I want to buy anything, I usually start off with Amazon. They had some fairly cheap coops at around $250 or so, but once I started to read the comments, I realized they were all cheap for a reason. This was pretty much the case for any affordable pre-fabricated chicken coop I looked up.

According to various message boards, a handmade coops seem to be the way to go. Except we can’t really afford one of those sturdy looking Amish coops that go for around $1,000. We found some pretty good used ones on Craig’s List, at good prices, but since we don’t have a truck to transport them, that caused a whole other set of problems.

We were referred to this Amish guy, who I was told makes really good coops and his pricing is half the cost you would see them at the store and even better, he would deliver to our area (for a large fee).

I was pretty excited about finally getting a good, quality, coop, but I still wasn’t too thrilled at the price. I tried to convince Matt that I could build one myself, but he didn’t seem too confident in my skills.

Eventually I came across a used shed on Craig’s List that was previously used for chickens. It was going for just a few hundred and even better he would deliver to us for free!

IMG_0286It didn’t come with a roost or nest boxes, but it’s big enough to fit around 15 or so chickens (just in case I get chicken crazy). It still need’s a lot of work and isn’t chicken ready yet, but I think it was a pretty good deal for the price.

IMG_0287It needs a new floor, we’re planning to use some cheap Linoleum so it’s easy to clean and we won’t have to worry about the wood rotting.

IMG_0289There’s also some gaps that need to be covered to prevent predators from marching in. Matt also wants to paint it and give it a new roof. But all in all, he seems confident that we’ll be ready to get some chickens by next weekend. Yay!

How to Prepare for Pet Chickens

Over the weekend, Matt was kind enough to do some weed whacking in our future chicken enclosure. The goal was to get enough weeds to be able to check that the fence was intact on all sides of the enclosure and to also make room for us to set up the coop.

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It might be a bit hard to tell, but there was definite progress! He wasn’t able to check the fence all around, but I’m pretty confident that it’s all intact. The only problem is a gap in the chicken wire by the entrance gate, which is something that can easily be fixed.

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And good news, under all those weeds, we found what could be used as a goat shed!

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It’s really small, but I think it might be just enough room for two Nigerian Dwarf goats for now. It’ll need a lot of work before we actually get a goat, but it’s definitely better than having to build one from scratch!

Keeping Chicken Safe From Predators – How To Set Up A Safe And Secure Chicken Run

11249152_10100361429185118_5187180756282608667_nHome Sweet Home

The past few weeks has been a blur pf packing and unpacking and we’re not even close to settled in yet. But that hasn’t stopped me from doing some major chicken coop shopping.

Matt thinks we should keep any chickens in a run to keep them safe from predators, but we have two huge enclosures already set up, so I think our future chickens should be able to free range as much as they want during the day.

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From what I read, one of the ways to keep free range chickens safe, is to have a rooster in your flock. But being as we’re so new to the neighborhood, I think keeping a rooster right away might be pushing it.

So, my initial plan was to use some sort of baseball netting to cover the enclosure, so we wouldn’t have to worry about hawk attacks. However, I do think, at least for now, that there’s probably enough bushes and tree cover to sufficiently protect the chickens from hawks.

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Being that I’m so lazy, I’m hoping the chickens will clear most of the weeds in the enclosure,so I don’t have to do it. Once that happens though, we might need to make sure they have some overhead protections, like the baseball netting.

Other than hawks, my main concern is that we have is a large number of feral cats that like to hang out in our backyard. Because of this, I’m considering making sure the enclosure is covered in Hardware Cloth that’s more likely to keep predators out. Since cat’s are sneaky, it won’t be able to keep them out, but it might make it a big enough hassle for the cats to deter them. Also, it’s probably better to get larger chickens that small cats are less likely to attack, which means no more Bantams.

What Should You Do When You Need Your Compost Ready In a Hurry?

As we’re packing up all of our things around the house to get ready to move, one thing occurred to me. We have two compost tumblers and both were completely full and way too heavy to even consider moving. So I’m going to need to empty out all the compost, before we can take them to the new house (such a waste!).

So one tumbler I was hoping to have ready by fall, and the other one I was stopped adding to when we found out we would be moving, and was nowhere close to being ready.

Now, the reason why I bought these tumblers is because we have a huge bear problem in our neighborhood and I needed something secure enough to withstand frequent bear attacks. And that’s something this tumbler has been really great at. But the problem with such a narrow opening, is that it’s hard to get the compost out, especially if it’s not ready.

IMG_0243So, in desperation, I moved the tumblers over to one my garden beds and flipped it over, so the opening was over the ground. My hope was that there would be more access to earth worms and other bugs that would help it break down more quickly.

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I was pretty surprised by the results. Within a week, the one that was closer to being done, was just about done (only two weeks earlier that one was filled with maggots).

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And within two weeks the other tumbler was just loose enough for me to empty. There were still large chunks of leaves and other organic matter, but it was broken down enough that there wasn’t a smell, which I was worried about since that would definitely attract bears. Also, I think looked okay raked over the garden bed.

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So all in all, I think it was a success. I got my bins empty in time for the big move! I’m just sad that I won’t be around next year to see what springs up from all this unfinished compost!

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