Entries Tagged ‘chickens’

Farm update October 19 2014

Things are moving along nicely, but there is always some kind of setback.

When my wife and I moved to the farm I seriously underestimated the time and effort needed to get things up and running. When we moved here in August of 2013 my main goal was to get the small chicken yard built, get the septic system put down, get the water working, then get ready for winter. Winter of 2013 – 2014 here in southeast Texas was rather harsh, by our standards anyway.

Spring 2014 started out with around 18 – 20 new chicks. Things were looking up, then then it went to hell. My wife and I moved to the farm with 13 hens. We lost all of the new chicks to various predators. When the new chickens were moved to the new chicken yard, a couple of Rhode Island Reds kept jumping the fence. My dogs ended up killing those two Rhode Island Reds.

The good news, things are on the upswing.

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All of the new chickens are gone

I need to explain the title in a little more detail.  When my wife and I moved to the farm in July – August 2013 we brought with us 13 hens. These hens were a year and a half old.

Between February – March 2014 my wife and I bought around 20 chicks. These chicks were only a day or two old and were bought from local farm supply stores here in Jasper Texas.

We are back to 13 hens and one rooster. Some of the original chickens disappeared, and the new ones took their place. But we are back to the original number we started with.

Between a chicken hawk, fox or coyote, and my dogs killing the chickens, the ratio of new chickens that have died sits at 100 percent.

My wife and I loaned a rhode island red rooster to my cousin, he is doing good. My wifes buff orpington rooster had a stroke. Those are the two extra chickens we have left out of the new we bought.

It is rather depressing to put so much time and effort into raising something, then a dog, coyote, fox, or chicken hawk takes all your hard work.

Last weekend my dogs caught one of the new rhode island reds and tore her up pretty good. To end her suffering she was put down.

For those of you who follow my youtube channel, yall know I have been working on a new chicken yard. The new yard is working well. The dogs stay on one side the the fence and the chickens stay on the other side.

The chicken that was killed last weekend got out of the yard. I can only do so much to protect my chickens. They have to stay in the yard when the dogs are loose.

6 weeks ago my wife and I ordered another batch of 20 chicks plus one rooster off the internet. These are doing much better than the original set we got in February – March. They are being kept in an enclosed run and not allowed to roam free. When they reach around 4 – 5 months old they will be moved into the new chicken yard.

It is really depressing when you put so much time and effort into a project, then something comes along and takes away your hard work.

Update on the new chicken house

Awhile back I started building a new chicken yard. Now that the yard is pretty much complete (for now), the time has come to build the new chicken house.

The size I decided on was 16 feet by 16 feet. 16 X 16 = 256 square feet. I figured 256 square feet was enough to accommodate roost, laying boxes, storage cabinet, water barrels and batteries for the solar power.

The laying boxes will take up 6 feet on one wall, and the roost takes up around 12 feet on another wall. The laying boxes in the new chicken house will be modeled after the laying boxes of the old chicken house.

An 8 foot wide leanto will be built off one wall. Which is where the solar panels will be installed.

Inside the house is a steel storage cabinet 36 inches wide and 18 inches deep. This is for tools, nails, screws, paint, chicken feeders, waterers, just your usual stuff.

When you walk into the shed there will be steel trash cans on the right hand side where chicken feed will be stored.

I want to set up some kind of rainwater catch system and a pvc pipe system with nipples to water the chickens.

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Buying chicks in the summer

For the most part buying chicks is a springtime activity. The local farm supply stores start getting their chicks in around early to mid February. Then there are the Easter colored chicks. Please do not buy colored chicks for Easter. You do not know what breeds you are getting, what sex, and the “new” quickly wears off.

You may think that after the feed stores stop selling chicks in the spring that there are no more on the market. That is simply not true. Some hatcheries sell chicks all year long. Where do you find these hatcheries? On the internet.

My wife and I had never bought chicks over the internet. We had always gone down to the local feed store, bought whatever chicks they had in stock, then went home. After buying our first set of chicks over the internet, I doubt we will ever buy from a feed store again. The process was easy and straight forward.

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Next chick order August 2014

My wife and I are planning on ordering some chicks Friday August 1st.

Breed / Quantity

Australorp – 5
Barred Rock – 5
Buff Orpington – 10
Dominicker – 5
Rhode Island Red – 5

Plus the 17 or so we have left after the dogs, fox and chicken hawk got finished.

47 hens with 3 roosters.

My Rhode Island Red rooster is on loan to my cousin right now.

Barred rocks and Rhode Island Reds are, but I have not seen a single one go broody.   The instinct to sit on eggs has been bred out of certain breeds.  When a hen sits on eggs, companies lose production, which means they are losing money.

The reason why my wife and I want a variety is for various traits. The Buff and Dominicker are supposed to sit on eggs, one of my Australorps will go broody at least once a year.

In a previous article we talked about the best chicken breeds for SHTF / TEOTWAWKI.  There are so many good breeds out there, it is impossible to pick an absolute best.  In order to expand my knowledge and experience with chickens, I want several different breeds in my flock.

As of right now the Buff Orpington is quickly becoming one of my favorite breeds.

The Dominicker is an old heritage breed dating back to the pioneer days. If a breed of chicken was good enough for the pioneers, it sho0uld be good enough for me.

Would you add or subtract anything from the list my wife and I want to order? Post your comments in this forum thread – What do you think about my next chick order?

 

Planning a new chicken yard

Before my wife and I moved to the farm, with the help of friends and family I we got a 75 feet long by 35 feet wide chicken yard.  With 2,625 square feet 100 chickens could fit in the yard and each chicken would have 26 square feet.  It is recommended that each chicken have at least 10 square feet in the yard.  That is double the minimum needed square feet, but there is little to no room for fig trees, blueberry trees,,,, or anything else.

It is time to build a new chicken yard.

The old yard is 75 feet X 25 feet.

The new yard will be 200 feet long, 100 feet wide on the back end and around 175 feet wide on the end where the chicken house is going to be.

The original chicken house is 6 feet wide X 8 feet long.

The new chicken house is going to be 18 feet wide and 20 feet long.

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Update on the chicken flock

When my wife and I moved to the farm in august 2013, we arrived with 13 hens.  The hens were a little over a year and a half old.  Those 13 hens were laying around 9 – 10 eggs a day.

With that 9 – 10 eggs a day I tried to estimate how many chickens and eggs my family would need during a long term SHTF situation.  In a previous article we got an estimated number of around 75 chickens or so to satisfy our egg and chicken meat production needs.

In the past 3 months something happened that has thrown a serious kink into my chicken flock plans.

Out of the original 13 hens, only 8 remain.

Out of the 24 chicks my wife and I bought in February 2014, only about 12 remain.

In other words, we have lost about 1/2 of our flock in the past few months.

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Lost a Rhode Island Red

Monday April 21 one of my best Rhode Island Red hens got out of the chicken yard and the puppies tried playing with her. Lets just say things did not turn out too well.

A couple of weeks ago the puppies tried playing with the same hen. A lot of the feathers on her neck were pulled out. Besides a couple of small bite marks she was otherwise ok. It looked like she was going to make a full recovery. Then Monday came along.

After my wife and I got home from work I opened the chicken yard for the chickens to free range until dark. The puppies were roaming free while the chickens were in their yard.

Maybe around 6:30 or so I opened the chicken house and that is when I saw her. She was in the nest with a broody Australorp. I knew right then something was wrong. She was missing feathers around her vent and she acted scared.

I picked her up out of the box and that was when reality set in. She was more than just scared, she was missing chunks of flesh under one of her wings and around her vent. I am going to guess she jumped over the fence of the chicken yard. The puppies saw her and and tried to play. Chickens just are not as durable as puppies.

The only reason why the hen was not pout down right then was because she had certain traits that I wanted to breed her for. Anytime the flock was out foraging she was leading the pack. She was not a follower, she was a leader. She was also my largest Rhode Island Red. I wanted those traits passed down to the next generation.

After dark I got some neosporin out of the first aid kit, got the hen off the perch, spread the neosporin all over her wounds, put her back on the perch and prayed for the best.

Tuesday April 22 my wife and I got home from work, went into the house, my wife looked out a back window and saw the Rhode Island red in the backyard just behind the chicken house. I walked out the backdoor, touched the chicken with my boot to confirm she was dead. Yep, she had been dead for awhile.

I went back inside the house, ate dinner, then buried her next to a newly planted grapefruit tree.

To make sure no varmints will dig her up I put several 3 inch thick cement pads over her grave. Hopefully she will rest in peace.

So long nugget, you will be missed.

Rhode Island Red

One of my Silver Laced Wyandottes died

The day start out as any other.  I woke up, threw some clothes on and went out to the chicken house to let the chickens out.  This has been my daily routine for 2 years.

Today was different.  When I opened the door, one of my Silver Laced Wyandottes was laying on the floor dead.  I opened the door to let the chickens out, then grabbed the Silver Laced Wyandotte to get it out of the chicken house.  The body was cold and rigor mortis had set in.

A couple of days ago something killed one of my Black Jersey Giants.  That is two of my full grown hens who were 2 years old have either died or been killed. That sucks.  It really sucks.  These hens were in their prime years, spring is here, egg production is picking back up and bam out of nowhere this Silver Laced Wyandotte dies out of nowhere.

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My chickens are being killed

Something is killing my chickens. In the past 2 weeks my wife and I have lost 3 chickens. Overall we have lost something like 5 or 6 chickens.

1 Speckled Sussex about a year and a half old
1 Rhode Island Red about a year and a half old
1 Barred rock pullet about 6 – 7 weeks old
1 Australorp pullet about 6 – 7 weeks old
1 Black Jersey Giant about a year and a half old

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One month update on the chicks

It is amazing how fast chicks grow.  In 1 month they went from being totally helpless, to foraging for food.  With every passing day the chicks move further away from the chicken house.

The more I watch chickens, the more I understand why the species has been so successful, and why humans have grown dependent on them.  While cats, dogs, humans,,, are still dependent on their parents at one month old, chickens are pretty much independent.  At 4 – 6 weeks old chicks need protection from full grown chickens and predators, but they do pretty well at foraging and looking for food.

The colors of each breed are becoming more defined. The Barred Rocks are getting their distinctive white specs, Rhode Island Reds are getting a deeper colors red, Australorps are still black as they should be and the Buff Orpingtons are turning a bright yellow gold color.

At around 4 weeks old the chicks have shed their soft birth feathers and have got their real feathers in. Some of the chicks have bald spots from shedding (molting) one set of feathers and getting another set in.

Why did we pick these 4 breeds

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Taking care of new baby chicks

Are you interested in raising some baby chicks, but are worried about how difficult it is to get started? If you take the right precautions raising chicks is neither difficult or hard, but it is a labor of love.

Chicks are small and cute, but provided they have the right conditions they are not fragile. During the late winter and early spring hundreds of thousands of chicks are mailed from hatcheries to farm supply stores and directly to customers. The vast majority of those chicks arrive alive and well.

Baby chicks should be provided with 5 things, safe place that will protect them from predators, heat lamp / heat source, food, water, and a clean place to sleep.

Let’s discuss each of those points in detail.

Keeping chicks safe

Baby chicks are an easy target for just about any kind of predator. They are an easy target for house cats, feral cats, aerial predators, snakes, opossums, minks, weasels, raccoons,,, to name a few.

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Help make a chick growth chart

Any readers of this blog and forum members wish to contribute to a chick weight / growth chart?

In my possession I have Buff Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds and Australorp chicks. All of them are less than a week old. When I get some Barred Rocks on Thursday, February 13th I plan on weighing them also. I picked these breeds for certain qualities such as egg and meat production.

Yesterday I weighed a random selection of the chicks and recorded the weight in ounces. Ounces did not seem to be accurate enough, so I switched to grams.

The plan is to weigh a random selection of chicks everyday, record their weight, then figure out an average. The goal is to enter the information into a spread sheet and chart the growth of each breed. This will give survivalist an idea about which breeds grow the fastest.

Out of my 6 australorps and 6 buffs I weighed 4 of each breed.

Out of my 3 rhode island reds I weighed all three.

The project will continue until I get bored and decide to work on something else. But I would like to continue this for at least 4 – 6 weeks.

Anyone wish to be part of this project? If so weigh at least 3 or 4 chicks in grams, post the weights or averages, age of the chick in days, type of feed and breed.

Type and brand name of feed is important to know, as we can chart that as well

Visit this link if you wish to help with the growth chart.

Please post any information you wish to share in the forum thread.

Random picture of one of my Buff Orpingtons.

Buff Orpington chick

First chicks of 2014

My wife and I got our first new chicks of 2014, 6 Buff Orpingtons and 6 Australorps. Circle 3 Feed here in Jasper Texas got an early shipment of chicks. Usually the chicks do not start shipping until late February and early March, which is when Kristy (my wife) and I got our first set of chicks 2 years ago.

Circle 3 had Bantams, White Leghorns, Australorps and Buff Orpingtons. My wife and I were only interested in the Australorps and Buff Orpingtons.

My wife has been wanting Buffs for a long time. Now that we live in a rural area I told my wife to get as many Buff Orpingtons as she wanted. On Friday February 7th I picked Kristy up 6 Buff Orpingtons, and we are supposed to get another dozen on Monday February 10th.

We have two Australorp hens that are turning 2 years old in 2014. While Circle 3 had them in stock I picked up 6 more.

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Chickens see snow for first time

Chickens in snow
Thursday January 23rd we started to get snow here in southeast Texas, I am in the Jasper area to be exact. Between Thursday night and into Friday morning at sunrise we ended up with 2 inches of snow on the ground and 3 inches of snow on the top of the chicken house and other places off the ground.

When I let the hens out in the morning they usually run out of the house and start looking for food. With snow on the ground it was a nopeday. As in nope, they are not going outside. The hens would go down the ladder to under the chicken house. Look around for a few minutes, then go back up the ladder.

After about 6 hours I finally took a couple of hens and set them out in the snow. From there things were ok.

When my wife and I built this chicken house off the ground I was worried about how the chickens would do in cold weather. This is the second winter and so far none of the hens have shown any signs of frostbite.

Forum thread – Chickens see snow for first time