Monday, March 10, 2014
Second Batch of Chicks at the Farm
Spring is supposed to be close by. It is chick season. The high today was about 60 degrees and sunny. So nice! There is only snow left in the ditches, shadows and plow piles. We are enjoying that warm sunny feeling. T-Bob even washed the vans today to get the half inch layer of salt off. Gotta love Ohio. Did I mention that the low temp on Wednesday is to be 7 degrees and the wind will be blowing 30+ MPH out of the north?!!! Yep and bringing along 6-10 " of snow. Whoohoo! If you don't like Ohio weather stick around a day or two and it will change.
Last week, we picked up 16 Black Jersey Giant roosters. 15 survived and are thriving! I wondered what would happen when we introduced the big batch of little hen chicks. On Saturday my DH built us a BIG coop for the chicks. Something that we could use with 60+ chicks in cold weather (See above) It may be awhile before they can be on grass. I moved the roosters to the big box yesterday afternoon. It was so funny. They all ran wildly and flapped their little wings and jumped. Then they started the chest bumping and play fighting. Trying to be tough. Finally they settled down and rested.
We put the little hens into the coop and they started running wildly. They started running as pairs at the bigger roosters and pretty soon almost all my big guys were hiding their heads in the far corner. The little day or two old hens had bossed the week old roosters into submission. Maybe there is some farm sense in the old saying about somebody being a 'hen pecked husband'.
I am a total newbie when it comes to chickens. I have done a lot of reading in the last couple months, so all my choices were based on other's opinions and what I like. First off, I am looking for egg production and so I listened to my brother and bought some white leghorns to lay lots of white eggs. Then I bought some of his other suggestion, Golden Buffs, to get lots of brown eggs. (See I do listen to you, bro! At least some of the time!)
One thing I have learned is that I like to watch our chickens. It is relaxing and fun. I like variety as well. Our first batch we bought 2+ years ago was mixed. I really enjoy seeing them range around the backyard. I like to see different kinds of birds foraging in the back. I picked some Barred Rocks, and Black Austrolarps. Both are hardy and good layers. Most afternoons I take a quart of corn and toss it into the bottom of their deep bedding layer of their coop. I watch them dance and till up the bedding. The barred rocks are excellent tillers, the white leghorns, not so much. The other characteristic I was looking at was amount of meat on the bird and cold tolerance. I don't want to go through the work of butchering, only to end up with barely enough meat for a sandwich. I did order 10 'brown layer assortment'. That will give me some variety to watch. It is a bit of a mishmosh, but I am OK with that.
How big is this new coop that my DH built for us? It is HUGE! That is Elizabeth, who is about 5 ft tall sitting in the coop with the chicks! He used doors as the long sides and some plywood on the ends. I think it is about 4 ft wide. We have the far end tarped to minimize drafts. We have 3 heat lamps on the open end.
The chicks seem comfortable and spaced evenly, not just under the hot spot of the lamp, so I assume they are warm enough.
Elizabeth had a friend over today to enjoy our new chicks. They had a good time. Elizabeth is on her way to becoming a real farm gal!