Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken update

Having so many chicks has been a real experience to say the least. Last year I had five chicks at one time. But there has been several problems with having 33 chicks (I think it was 33. It is hard to count that many fluffy chicks). Everything went well during the first few weeks. Two of the 33 chicks died – not sure why, but by the time I discovered that they weren’t acting right, it was too late for them. Then I gave about a dozen to a friend, and had plans to give a few to a neighbor girl who has several animals. However, before I got to go see her, dogs attacked.

The first time was when we weren’t here on a Sunday, killed my rooster and two hens. The second time they came on a day I was home, they killed my last hen, then they chewed through the chicken wire and got into the chicks and killed 12 chicks before I intervened. I was mad and frustrated. All the work we had put into building a coop, feeding, and caring for them gone in a few short moments. The owner of the dogs says he will pay for the chicks and damages, but no money, yet. We covered the wire on the current coop with stronger wire. For a few days my remaining seven chicks didn’t want to leave the house part of the coop.

In between the dog attacks I put the chicks in with the remaining hen. She did not like that and killed my smallest chick in the batch. It was a extra chick that the company threw in when they sent the order. I was looking forward to what kind it would become. I then removed her and set up temporary housing for her beside the coop with the chicks, and inside the chicken's yard. I let her run in the chicken's yard even though I was worried about dogs returning. We had fixed where they broke through, but they found a different way in.

Then my friend who I gave the dozen chicks to has returned them. At first I didn't want to take them back. I had planned from the beginning to give her some, but her hens were picking on them and a bantam hen that she was given. She didn’t have a cage that the chicks would stay in so they were wondering loose in her yard. It is amazing that dogs didn’t get them!

Currently I have 18 chickens. Most of the chickens are red star, which will lay large brown eggs! I miss my fresh eggs. One is the bantam hen (given to me with the chicks) and is smaller than some of the chicks. Another one is a black chick that hatched in my friend’s incubator. She had one out of fifty eggs that hatched and lived. Only three hatched. I’m not sure I want to try incubating again. One is a buff Orpington that may set (sit on eggs and hatch them). I love the idea of having baby chicks, but I think the hen will make a much better mother than I do to the chicks.

We have plans to build a bigger coop. The current one is too small for 18 chickens. We also need to put a fence around our acre of land to keep out the dogs!! Rueben also wants to get a gun to shoot dogs that are on our property. It is not going to break my heart to see a dog die especially if it is killing my chickens.

These photos were taken this week a day after adding back the chicks from my friend.

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