April 9th, 2018: When your 8 year old comes to you and asks if she can have her own flock of backyard chickens, how can you say no? Well, that’s what happened about a month ago at our house. My daughter, Ava, has watched my husband and me raise our flock since she was 2 years old. First off, before agreeing to anything, we discussed the continuous need that the chickens will have – daily, year round needs where they need fed, watered and eggs collected – even when she is tired after school, when there’s a foot of snow on the ground in the winter, etc, she will need to go out to the coop. So, she decided she is ready for the responsibility! We said, let’s give it a try…
We decided together that we will get 10 Araucanas, “the Easter Eggers”. I thought she would like the blue/green colored eggs that this breed produces. My husband and I put together the brooder that we will keep the “girls” in until they are old enough to be transferred to their outdoor coop. They will spend about 4-6 weeks in here staying warm under the heat lamp, eating bunches, and growing in their “big kid” feathers. Ava helped us put the bedding in and prepare the food and water for the chicks arrival any day now.
April 12th, 2018: Today is Baby Chick Day! They have arrived and are SO cute. My daughter is extremely excited to name them all. We turned on the heat lamps to warm up their brooder this morning so it was already warm for them. They are babies after all and like it warm – about 90⁰-95⁰F at first! Once we got home with them, we took each bird and dipped their beak in the water so that they know how and where to get a drink. We gave them each a few snuggles too. After that, we spent hours just watching them peep, explore their new surroundings, and find their food. Let the growing begin!
April 13th, 2018: This morning brought much excitement as Ava woke up and remembered that she has some new babies to take care of. She raced out to our garage, where we have our brooder set up, to check on her chicks. We watched them running around their pen. They sure seem to have already made themselves at home. They are already so fast, she has a hard time catching one to hold. Before school we gave them fresh water and filled up their food. After school, we checked on them again to see if they had any new needs. They all appear to be eating and drinking well, so we put the reel bar on top of their feeder to help keep them from standing in their food. They sure are fun to watch!
April 15th, 2018: This weekend has brought much excitement for Ava. She has been able to show off her new flock to her friends. There was much “Oohing and AAhing” at the cuteness. She is still freshening up their food and water daily. They are already eating more than when they first arrived. We raised the feeder and waterer off of the ground with some 1”x2” in boards that we had lying around. This will help to keep the birds from getting bedding and droppings in them as they grow. We also checked to make sure none of the birds had “Pasty Butt” – when their droppings harden on their bottom sealing off their vent. If not caught early, this can lead to death but luckily is easy to fix by using warm water to soften the droppings before removing them. Everyone looks great and is growing fast.
April 21st, 2018: What a week it has been! Our weather is still pretty cold so Ava and I decided to keep the heat lamps where they are as the birds are spending quite a bit of time under them. Hopefully it will warm up next week. The chicks are growing so fast already. They are starting to grow in their wing and tail feathers now. We are excited to see what each one looks like as they get bigger.
April 23rd, 2018: Finally it’s warming up and feels like spring. Today we raised up the heat lamp a few inches. This will decrease the temperature inside the brooder. As the chicks grow in their feathers, they won’t need as much supplemental heat since their feathers will start help control their temperature. We will be watching them closely over the next day to make sure they don’t get too cold though. Ava is doing a good job refilling their food and water more often now as they get bigger every day.
April 26th, 2018: It’s been two weeks since the chicks have arrived and it is amazing to see how much they have changed. We were holding one today admiring how all of the wing feathers are coming in but she still has all of her baby “fluff” on her body. They are all doing well with the temperature adjustment in their brooder and the temperature outside is finally warming up too. Keep on growing little ones!
May 8th, 2018: The new chicken coop is officially underway! My husband and Ava started building it this week. We have designed a 6ft x 12ft base structure that will stand 30in off the ground. This will allow us to use the part under the coop as a shaded outdoor area for the chickens. So far, we have the posts in the ground, the floor framed and covered with plywood. It is truly amazing how much the chicks have grown in a few short weeks. They have most of their “big girl” feathers now which look so pretty. Each one has a unique pattern and coloring to them! Ava is now having to fill their feeder daily (sometimes even twice a day) and is giving them fresh water daily too. They sure are eating and drinking a lot!
May 13th, 2018: My husband and Ava worked so hard today to get 3 of the 4 walls up for the coop and Wow is it big! Some may even say it looks like a tiny home but I’m sure the chickens will love it. Today we also cleaned out their brooder pen and replaced all of the bedding. With these girls, we used pine pellet bedding and I have to say, I really like it. It is much cleaner (they don’t kick it into their food and water) and much less dusty than pine shavings. Also, we turned off the heat lamps since the temperature outside is warming up nicely and the chicks have their feathers. They are keeping themselves warm now. We’ll keep plugging away on their coop so we can get them into it asap. They are ready for the move.
May 28th, 2018: It’s been a busy couple of weeks but we worked on the coop all Memorial Day weekend. And boy was it HOT!! We now have the rafters up, the roof on and started on the siding. It’s really coming together. We’re hoping to have the girls in it next weekend (fingers crossed). They are starting to look like full grown chickens minus their combs. We just love how colorful and unique each one is. We can’t wait to see them in their new space!
June 16th, 2018: Well, it took a little longer than hoped for but the girls are finally in their new “forever home”. We have got to give props to my husband for working so hard to get this coop completed! The chickens love their spacious room and are already checking it out. Ava is so proud of her new coop.
June 24th, 2018: Ava has been getting used to her new routine of going out to the coop every day to re-fill the chickens food and water. We are really keeping an eye on their water this time of the year. With it being so hot, we don’t want them to run out. They seem to have settled in quite well and are looking comfortable.
July 4th, 2018: Happy 4th of July! Today I began working on preparing the outside of the coop to put up their enclosed runs. I like to use enclosed areas for the chickens where we live more for their own protection. We have many predators that can get to them and this keeps them safer. Today, I used chicken wire and stapled it around the base of the coop. We intentionally build it 30 inches off of the ground so that we could fence it in and give the chickens a shaded place outside. Now I’m going to work on getting the fencing up for the other areas. That way we can get the girls outside!
July 8th, 2018: This was a difficult weekend at our house. Ava noticed that one of her chickens was being pecked on by the others pretty badly (there was blood involved but I’ll spare you the details) so we removed the chicken from the coop. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it, so Ava’s flock is now down to 9 birds. There were tears involved but Ava handled it well. That is one of the many life lessons she has learned growing up on a farm. In order to help keep the chickens from pecking on each other further, we worked all weekend to get the outdoor runs ready and accessible to them. This required putting in posts, running chicken wire along the posts, installing a gate to give us access to the outdoor area if needed, and finally cutting their door to allow them out into the run. The girls are not quite sure what to think of this new space. They are quiet curious, so I’m sure they’ll figure it out soon enough.
July 14th, 2018: Well, the ladies have figured out what to do with their new space and are enjoying themselves. I’m sure they love pecking through the grass and finding insects and other bugs to enjoy. We sure to love watching them explore. They seem to be happy with their bigger space because we have not noticed them picking on each other.
August 25th, 2018: It’s been a while since our last update because not much had changed. Until tonight…Ava got her first egg! It is a beautiful baby blue color. And it is so very cute because the first eggs chickens lay (known as pullet eggs) are always tiny. They will continue to get bigger as the girls continue to lay, but for now, they’re so darn cute. What an exciting time.
August 29th, 2018: Ava has now collected 4 eggs total! It looks like only one chicken is laying as of now. I’m sure the others will begin soon. We will be transitioning them over to a layer ration of feed now that we have seen our first eggs. That will provide them with additional calcium to produce strong egg shells along with all the necessary vitamins and minerals they need to remain happy, healthy, and productive. We enjoyed her first eggs at breakfast the other morning and they were tasty! Can’t wait for more ladies…