It has been a stressful few days in and around the chicken coop! I have enjoyed having my hens (and all those fresh eggs) so much that I wanted more…….both chickens and eggs that is. Right around the 1st of March, I purchased 8 new chicks (hopefully all hens) to bring home to the farm.
I have been keeping them warm and safe in a big stock tank in the garage and they have grown like little weeds! It has been somewhat of a challenge this spring as our weather has been cold and wet. The chicks survived one big snow storm, a short power outage and many freezing nights but are doing well. So well, in fact, that I had to get them out of that stock tank! They were just getting too big. So last Saturday they were put in the coop with Mr. Puffycheeks and the hens. I’m not sure now that this was the best way to introduce them to each other, but at the time it seemed like the best option.
We have been letting the hens and Mr. Puffycheeks, our rooster, forage around the yard all day for some time now. They all go back into the coop at night where they are content, sheltered and safe. On Saturday, when we added the new chicks, we kept the coop enclosure shut. I didn’t want the new chicks running around too much until they knew where there home was.
On Saturday, the chicks hid in a corner of the chicken coop and rarely if ever came out. The hens and Mr. Puffycheeks were a little mean to the new chicks, especially that first day. I can tell you, none of my feathered friends were happy on Saturday.
On Sunday, we opened the coop door. The hens and Mr. Puffycheeks came right out and enjoyed their day. Sunday morning the chicks were again hiding in the corner. But by the afternoon they were out in the chicken coop, eating, drinking and trying out the roosting bars. They seemed to be fine as long as the hens were out in the yard. I don’t believe that any of the chicks made their way out of the coop at all on Sunday. Things did seem a little less stressful once they were all in the coop and settled down for the night.
Ethel was not very happy that I was invading her privacy during one of my visits to check on the new chicks!
It wasn’t until Thursday that the new chicks began to venture out of the coop. They are still very careful around Mr. Puffy Cheeks and the hens but it is getting a little better every day. I can’t wait till they are all one happy family!
Sunday was a beautiful day here in Missouri, especially for February. It was unusually mild, mid-50s and just a nice day to be outside. So it was the day I decided to let the chickens out of their coop. As the weather gets nicer I plan to let them out most of the day so that they can forage around and enjoy more space. It was a little nerve wracking, letting them out of their safe space. I wondered if I would be able to get them back in the coop. I was also worried about how our dogs Balto and Shadow would do and if they would bother them. Balto is our new LGD and judging by the calm, protective way he had acted around all our other animals, I felt he woul be fine. But I had no idea how Shadow, our black lab, would react. But the time came when we were ready to let the chickens explore more of their world.
We opened their door……
And it didn’t take long at all for them to venture out…..
Balto took a good, up close (and rather personal) look to make sure all was well…..
Then while the chickens were exploring the new world outside, Balto was curious about their world inside…..
Shadow was perfect around the chickens…..didn’t scare them or bother them in any way. Everyone got along beautifully.
The chickens wandered a little further than I though they would, but when I went out around 5:00 to get them inside and safe for the night, they were already settled down back in their coop. The chickens first day out went really well.
Thought it was about time I gave you a chicken update. They are at 21 weeks old now. From what I have read, they could possibly start laying eggs around 22 weeks….assuming that they have enough daylight. We do not have electricity to their coop, so cannot add any light to make these winter days seem a little longer. So I have prepared myself that it may be several more weeks before they begin to lay eggs.
Last Saturday we had a nice warm day so we spent the time getting their nesting boxes ready. We did have their nesting boxes placed on the floor of the coop so they could get used to them. But on Saturday Jeff built a table or bench of sorts to put the nesting boxes in and get them up off the floor. He used all reclaimed wood we had there at the farm and picked up the kitty litter tubs at our local recycling center.
The chickens had to explore all under their new nesting boxes and peck at all the screw holes and corners to make sure that all was acceptable to them.
The bad news is that we will not get eggs out of all of our hens because, alas we have a couple of roosters in the group. Larry (bottom row, center), whose name used to be Laverne, has been crowing constantly. He is definitely the top chicken of the group and is a bit of a bully.
And, I couldn’t resist sharing these cute little chicken bottoms with you.
Hopefully my next chicken update will include pictures of our first eggs!