Sunday, August 17, 2014

Adding more chickens.

My neighbor, the one who gave us our first batch of chickens, found a good deal on chicks and ordered some.  She ask if we wanted any and of course we said yes.  I told her that I'd take 4.  That way we'd end up with an even flock of 10.  To make things even more interesting she offered us a broody hen to raise the chicks.

I had planned on putting the hen and chicks in my original chicken tractor.  I attempted to move it into my yard and it fell apart.  I didn't realize how much it had rotted.  The wire mesh on it is still good so I'll salvage that for another project.  I had to use chicken tractor v2.0 instead.  That was fine.  I just want to keep them contained until the current flock gets used to them being there.

Chickens have no night vision.  So it made sense to make they hand-off at night.  My neighbor came over around 10:00 with a cranky hen and five 1-day old chicks.  That was one more than we asked for.  I can't complain about that!  The hen was in no mood to be put in the tractor.  She wouldn't stay still so we could put the chicks under her.  I got a box and put some pine shavings in it.  Then we put in the chicks, sat the hen on top of them.  Then the box went into the shed for the night.

I went out to check on them the next morning.  The hen thought that she had hatched eggs.  And...  She was not too happy to see me.  She squawked a lot.  I picked up the box and moved her and the chicks into the chicken tractor.  They stuck together.  The chicks thought she was their mom.
This picture was taken right after I put them in there.
The hen continued to squawk loudly for quite a while.  I could even hear her inside.  I can only imagine what my next door neighbors must have thought.  Luckily the squawking eventually stopped. 
One chick slipped out.  The rest are under the hen.
This is a new experience for me.  When I raised chicks in the past, I kept them in the garage under heat lamps.  I never had a hen to do the work for me.  I have to check the food and water, but she's taking care of the temperature.  I don't have to adjust a lamp higher or lower, or change the bulb from 100w to 75w to 60w.  I won't have to change out the messy pine shavings and the garage isn't going to stink
The hen is taking her job seriously.  My dog came out to sniff around the pen and she freaked out.  She was jumping and flapping her wings and had all of her feathers puffed out.  The dog seemed confused.  None of the other chickens have ever done that.  I got her away from the pen and back into the yard.  Then the hen calmed down. 
I plan on keeping the hen and chicks in the tractor for a week.  That should give them some time to get used to being here and it'll give the current birds time to adjust as well.  At that point I'll prop up the tractor just like I did for the last round of broilers.  Then they'll be able to explore as they please.

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