Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chickens for Eggs (pets), for Eggs (pets) - yah

So we somehow got the idea to get chickens. I don't know when it happened or why, I didn't even eat eggs until a couple years ago,  but here we are getting chickens! Since we have an acre and there are no covenants saying we can't have them we decided it may be nice to have fresh eggs and some new pets toddling around our space. The next place we live we may NOT be allowed to have chickens so we are going for it! Since there are coyotes and great owls and bobcats (we have yet to see one) and only one dog that runs loose for an hour in the morning we have to have them in an enclosed area unlike in Puerto Rico where they are almost wild! To spare our neighbors (and Jeff) the crowing and to spare me cracking open a fertilized egg we decided to get sexed chicks. This is supposedly 95-98 percent accurate but we won't know for a few months. By then I will be attached and it will be an awful thing to have to part with someone (it better not be Sweety...if she turns into a he we will get a crow collar)! We will cross that bridge if we have to. I have read the My Pet Chicken and Barnyard Chicken websites non stop trying to learn about coops and health and everything else. The dog run turned catio turned straw bale garden thingy is now being repurposed as a chicken area. The area for them to roost will be raised and they will sleep inside at night and during the day they will run around the 10 x 10 dog run. It is covered to provide shade, enclosed with hardware cloth, doodaded out with perches and dust bath bins and a chicken swing will be coming when they move out there. We thought we'd get four. Chickens are pretty addictive once you start looking at the different kinds and what their eggs look like and stuff. There are many different kinds of chickens with different sizes and personalities and egg laying abilities and egg colors...who knew?

After doing a fair amount of research about the chickens that were coming to Tractor Supply, Dan's Boots and Saddles, and Village Mercantile in Corrales I decided on the Mercantile  because they had the kinds I wanted coming in on the same day with the exception of the Brahma. Dan's Boots and Saddles had the Brahmas coming in a week later. I read that you want to get your chicks pretty close together so the pecking order gets established, because of size differences (I had no idea how fast they get big) and heat requirements. We wanted a variety of egg colors, docile chickens since they will be pets and ones that can stand the heat and cold we have here. At first we were going to get 4 but then I saw some other varieties....realized someone may have to go if they end up being a male and unfortunately chicks can die due to undeveloped organs or diseases in their first 4-5 weeks. At that point it would be harder to introduce another baby to the group so I ended up picking 6!

We have an Ameracauna - nothing special to look at and not the most docile birds BUT they lay green or baby blue eggs! We have a Gold Wyandotte because they are spectacular looking and very docile and excellent layers. I got a Barred Rock because they are supposedly nice birds and they are nice looking. I wanted a Buff Brahma because they are little dinosaurs...9 pounds with feathers on their legs and feet and very very friendly. It ended up that the Buff ones didn't come in but the Light Brahmas did and our little puff ball is now getting gorgeous snow white feathers!!! Very exciting. These guys all lay various shades of brown eggs. While chatting with the chicken lady I got talked into (yah, that was a hard sell) a Welsummer (dark chocolate brown eggs with spots) and a Black Austrolop (her favorite most personable chicken). So there you have it...6.

So here are some photos of their enclosure and of them in their little hot tub brooder inside the house. We tried the garage for about an hour but it was way to cold out there and since we have to redo carpet and some sheetrock in the water damaged room we turned it into a chicken bedroom!

The leveled and covered dog run is ready for hardware cloth and the addition of the "coop" part of the structure. Below Jeff is working on the sleeping and nesting quarters for the girls. The back walls will drop down so I can hoe the dirty shavings out and into a wheelbarrow. We don't have the perches or ventilation worked out in this photo.

We decided to make their entrance a little comical...the cut out is the door their ramp will come to. A door will shut from the outside once they are in. The vinyl is so the plywood doesn't absorb all the pee and it will make cleaning easier. Here are a couple of the day old girls. Nutmeg is the Welsummer on the left and Midnight is the black and yellow one. She will turn into a jet black girl with a green and purple shimmer to her feathers (supposedly - hope she keeps some of the cute markings on her face).
This one is "Trouble." I liked her inquisitiveness and her markings. Her puffy cheeks make her an Ameracauna and even though she was in with the day old ones I am thinking she is a little older...she has gotten much bigger faster and has more feathers! She is a stinker already.
Here's "Honey" the Light Brahma with her feathered feet at one day old!!! She is really sweet.
This is "Sweety" my favorite. She is the Barred Rock and has the best personality! She lets me hold her and falls asleep in my hand! Sweety and Honey are my favorites.

The chick on the right is the Pepper the Gold Wyandotte. You can't tell from this photo but she has little gold dots where you would expect ears.
They are all a couple weeks older than these pictures and their feathers are coming in . You can kind of tell what are going to become but they morph so fast you can't really tell!

Work continues on the outside abode that they will live in in another 3-4 weeks.