Let’s talk chickens.  The gateway drug to farming.
As soon as you get chickens, you’re ready to get EV-A-REE-THING.

To me, chickens are easy.  But when you start reading articles online and books about chickens, it may SEEM like raising small toddlers with the amount of care they need.  It’s all how you treat it.  My chickens serve a purpose.  To lay eggs.  If you aren’t laying eggs, I really don’t need you.  If the reason you aren’t laying eggs is because you’re a rooster, I really only need one of you.

I got a straight run of chicks.  The feed store didn’t know what breed or sex so it was a fun little mystery. I got 10 and kept them in the guest bedroom for a few days because I’m a little bit crazy and because I was nervous keeping them in the outbuilding I had planned.  We didn’t have a dog yet and it seemed like we were living in the wild west of prowling creatures.  After about 3 days, I decided the chicks did not pay rent, therefor did not get to stink up an entire room so out to The Annex they went.

The brooder area contained:

-a large storage bin with clear plastic walls for them to live in
-a heat lamp that I could hang higher or lower depending on what the nuggets needed
-small water dish
-small food dish for a medicated chick food*
-wood shavings

*I’m not sure how I feel about medicated/non medicated feed.  This was the first animal I was getting on the farm and wanted to stick with something I knew and the farm I had worked at before used a medicated chick feed and I felt comfortable sticking with that.

I fed them and cleaned their water in the morning before work and again in the evening.  I would play with them somewhat incessantly.

As soon as the weather broke the 50s and the chicks were about a month old – I had a little pen they could go out in when I was home during the day.  They went back to their brooder at night.

At about 6 or 7 weeks, I put them in the coop with the heat lamp.  The heat lamp was mostly for nighttime but I could also close all the windows in the coop and keep it warm during the day if I needed to.  The coop has an indoor and outdoor portion so they were free to come and go as they pleased.  At this time, I started feeding them a laying ration* and veggie/garden scraps.

*The laying ration is nothing too special yet – just a more natural option that I could find at my local feed store.

Within a month or so, when I was home, they could have free range of the yard and that is where they now spend their evenings and weekends.  Roaming as they please.

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Right now, I give the chickens half of their normal ration in the morning and make sure they have clean water.  I feed them kind of a made up amount of what I think they can eat.  They’re laying eggs, look healthy and are still hungry enough to follow me in the coop at night so I’m happy with the amount. They stay in the coop (they can go back and forth from the inside portion and the outside portion) while I’m at work and whoever gets home first lets them run around until dark.  They get clean water in the afternoon and their full ration of food.  They also get whatever table and yard scraps I have (veggies, fruit, cheese, stale bread, weeds, overripe tomatoes, etc.)  They’re all starting to lay eggs so I collect those in the afternoon.  On weekends, they get to go out first thing in the morning and don’t go back in until dinner time.

That’s about it with the day to day stuff.  I spend a little more time on the weekends cleaning the coop, food and water buckets, and cleaning up the yard a bit with all the feathers they leave laying around.

 

To my feathery clucky friends,

 

Kelsey

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