Where To Buy Chickens? Searching For Local Farms and Breeders

Between March and May and I managed to buy a total of 12 chickens. I bought them in groups of 3’s because I figured it’s easier for the chickens to adjust if they have a group of friends with them. I have one hen, Shadow. The two other chickens I bought her with ran away and now Shadow, is always by herself and doesn’t really spend much time with the rest of the flock. (For the first week, she even stood by the fence for hours at a time waiting for her friends to come back)

So in March when we first finished our coop, I looked all over for local places that had chickens for sale. People pointed me towards Tractor Supply, but they only sold baby chicks. And it was pretty much the same for most places, baby chicks only (it was Easter).

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But baby chick are way too much work, requires extra supplies, and well it takes forever before they start laying eggs.

Adult chickens, however are much harder to find. I bought two sets of chickens off of Craig’s List. I had to check Craig’s List almost daily before I found chickens for sale in my area. One set of chickens I bought from a local farm, Brodhecker Farm that I knew sold baby chicks seasonally, but just happened to have some adult chickens for sale that were almost laying age.

The newest set I bought from the Backyard Chickens forum. There’s a lot of baby chicks and fertilized eggs for sale in the forums, but occasionally you’ll see some adults on there. The three I bought were from a breeder that mostly sells chicks, but occasionally sells pullets if she has some left over.

When purchasing hens, I tried to take note of the conditions they were keeping the chickens in, how much space they had, that kind of thing. And in general, when introducing a new chicken to a flock, especially an older chicken, you want to keep them quarantined for about a month before letting them come in contact with the pre-established chickens. But because all my chickens were fairly new, I wasn’t too concerned with biosecurity.

And I think I’m done with buying chickens for the year. The Sussex County Poultry Show was a few weeks ago, so I think they temptation has passed! Next year, I plan to just wait for a broody hen, and then buy some fertilized eggs for them to hatch. With baby chicks, biosecurity is less of a concern and you don’t have to worry about chickens introducing diseases to your flock.

My First Broody Hen

So one of my hens (Shadow) has been broody for about a week. She sits in her nest box all day and all night.

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I previously had a problem with chickens sleeping in the nest box while they weren’t broody, but after a week or two of me picking them up and placing them on the roost at night that seemed to correct the behavior.

When I looked up signs and symptoms of broody hens though, the typical behavior seems to be a purring noise (nope), and aggressive behavior when you approach (also nope). After a few days she did start puffing up a bit when I tried to move her to collect eggs.

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Shadow is also one of my more gentler chickens so I think that might be why she may not be displaying typical broody behavior.

But the reason I’m pretty sure it’s broodiness, is because when the other chickens slept in the nest box, they would leave a pile of poop for me to clean out in the morning. But Shadow spends all day and night in there and it’s been poop free.

So originally, I wanted to buy breeds of chickens that were known to go broody, because I wanted use them to hatch eggs, and raise chicks and not have to worry about that myself. But since I just bought three chickens (which makes ten total), Matt has put me on a chicken buying ban for the rest of the year!

And I’m hoping to figure out their brood schedule, so that by next year, It’ll be easier to figure out when they’re broody and I can buy some fertilized eggs right away.

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.

 

A Sad Day

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Sad news. A little while ago, Remus escaped and we’ve been unable to find him. I first noticed early in the morning when I went to feed them, and only Vanilla came out to greet me.

Some of the fencing in the back was ripped down, by what was probably a bear. I actually haven’t seen any bears on the property since we started keeping goats, so I thought perhaps the sound of the goats were keeping them away, but I guess not.

That morning, I took a walk around looking for Remus, and kept a bale of hay outside to try and lure him back, but still no sign of him. We called animal control in case he’s spotted, but our property borders a large state park, so he probably would have wandered into the deep woods.

It is odd though, because Remus is our little escape artist and usually gets out on about a monthly basis. Typically whenever he escapes he likes to come to our front porch and try to get into the house, but I guess this time since he was scared, he just ran off into the woods and couldn’t find a way back.

Vanilla has been taking it well, I think she’s still waiting for him to come back. I checked the nearby Barnyard Animal Sanctuary about adopting a goat to keep her company, but all the goats they have available have horns, which seems like it might be unsafe around my curious toddler.

I’m also not sure I want to put down big money on a dairy goat, which seems to be the only ones I really see for sale. Since Vanilla seems okay for now, I think I might wait until I see some de-horned goats for adoption.

How To Keep Goats Out Of Your Chicken Feed

When we first got our chickens a few months ago, we were so excited. But after a while we noticed we weren’t getting nearly as much eggs as you would expect from seven chickens. We were getting just over a dozen a week. In the beginning I thought that maybe the stress of being moved temporarily affected their laying, until I caught Remus eating up all of their feed. So began our months long journey to set up a chicken feeding system that the goats wouldn’t be able to get into.

First we set up a chicken feeder made up of 4 inch pvc pipe, thinking the the opening would be too narrow for the goats to fit their mouths into.. wrong! So after seeing the goats ability to get into the feeder, we just kept it closed during the day and open it at night when it was time to lock them into the coop. But since it was right before bed, I feared they weren’t getting enough food.

So step two, I removed the 4 inch pvc pipe and replaced it with a 3 inch pvc pipe, the smallest they had at Home Depot.

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Unfortunately 3 inches still didn’t cut it.

At this point, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. No matter what I did, the goats could gobble up their food way faster than the chickens could.

Then I realized I could utilize the chicken run that Matt started building last year and never finished. It was just a wood frame, but I put the feeder inside the run and covered the run in wire. I cut a couple of 5 in x 9 in holes which I figured would be just big enough for the chickens to fit through.

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Except, Remus, ever the escape artist managed to fit through the tiny holes.

At this point, I wasn’t sure that there was any hole big enough for a chicken but too small for a goat! I tried a slightly smaller hole at 5 in x 8 in and that seemed to do the trick. Remus was able stick his head through pretty far, but not able to completely climb in like before.

Now the chickens have access to their feed more consistently and we’re getting about 6 eggs a day. Unfortunately I have caught feral cats eating their feed, but there’s nothing I could do to keep cats out, and at least they’re not going after the chickens!

 

We’re Now Selling Chicken Eggs

We have enough extra eggs, that we are now selling our fresh organic pasture raised chicken eggs.

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Eggs are unwashed, so you can leave them on the counter at room temperature or refrigerate them. Unwashed eggs typically lasts at least two weeks unrefrigerated on the counter, and three months if refrigerated.

Our Ladies are fed Organic Layer Pellets and have free range on about an acre of property for bugs and grass/greens. We have many many different breeds, so you’ll get eggs of all colors! Blue, Brown, and Pink.

Studies have shown that Chickens that are fed Organic feed and and given free range to green pasture, produce eggs that offer way more bang-for-your buck nutrition-wise!
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

Prices are:
18 count $10.00
Dozen $7.00

For a bi-weekly subscription, prices are:
18 count $9.00
Dozen $6.00

For a weekly subscription, prices are:
18 count $8.00
Dozen $5.00

Subscription slots are limited and must be paid a month in advance. Please email at info@selenefarms.com First come, first serve on available pick up days – delivery may be available in Warren or Sussex Counties.

My Tomatoes Are Out Of Control!

This is my second year trying to grow tomatoes from seed, and last year it went badly enough that I had pretty low expectations for this year.

But surprise, my tomato plants are completely taking over my kitchen!

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I know it’s a bit early, but I decided to transplant them outside this morning. They were growing so big, I was starting to get worried they would snap without some stakes. Anyway, it’s  late enough in the season that I don’t have to worry about frost, although I think ideally, you should wait until the temperature stays above 50 at night.

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.

Meet Our New Goats, Ellie, Romulus, and Remus!

After doing about a months worth of research on buying goat sheds, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to build my shed. Unlike chicken coops, there doesn’t seem to be any cheap and used goat sheds on Craig’s List and to buy a new one was way out our price range.

So the plan was to start building my goat shed towards the end of the fall, when there would be less weeds in the enclosure. That was when I saw a posting on our local 4-H Facebook page listing a few goats up for adoption with the shed and other goat supplies included. Well that was way too good a deal for me to pass up!  Now, we’re the proud owner of three goats, Ellie, Romulus, and Remus.

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Ellie is the ripe old age of 13, but Romulus and Remus are fairly young at 3 years old. I definitely want to buy some Nigerian Dwarf goats for the purpose of milking, but I’ll probably wait until spring or so.

The best part of having goats is how much my daughter loves them. She can’t get enough of feeding them. And they’re so mild-mannered they make perfect companions for a rambunctious toddler!

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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!