As previously mentioned, one of the baby chicks had a different color pattern than the others.
The blue-laced red wyandotte hens normally look like the following:
The oddly-colored chick, however, eventually ended up growing up to look like:
The day old chicks were already out of the house and in a crate in the barn.
They quickly outgrew the crate and needed some more space. At around age 6 to 7 weeks, we moved them into the movable chicken tractor so they could experience full outdoor weather for the first time and better hone their foraging skills before merging with the main flock.
Here is a video of the chicks their first day in the chicken tractor:
The chicken tractor is moved every couple of days to a new spot to avoid dead spots in the pasture from too much foraging and digging. After a couple of weeks in the chicken tractor, the chicks were finally ready to join the main flock.
Click through to see pictures and videos of the chicks joining the main flock.
The day old chicks we were raising outgrew their cage in the house after about 4 weeks. They were ready to move outside to the barn. They didn’t need the heat lamp any more and were ready for more space and fresher air (the house needed to be aired out by that point as well!).
I used an outdoor pet exercise pen and covered the outside with chicken wire to make sure the chicks couldn’t squeeze out between the bars. I added a wooden crate and a cement block inside to give them something to climb and roost on. The floor is covered with pine shavings to help maintain cleanliness and provide the chicks with something to kick through. The roof over the pen was just a scrap of wood from the barn to prevent them from flying out and any other chickens from getting in.
Click through for a video and more photos of the baby chicks.
New arrivals: we bought 6 day-old chicks!
Last year, we raised 3 bantam Cochins but they were already 6 weeks old when we got them. We also picked up a couple of hens from the NY state fair, but those were already grown. This year, we decided to try starting with day old chicks.
We picked up our chicks from a local hatchery and brought them home in a small shoebox with a few air holes. They chirped loudly most of the drive home.
They are very cute and fluffy!
Click through for some more pictures!
As you may recall, we lost a hen last spring to what was likely a case of egg yolk peritonitis (EYP). EYP is when the egg does not form properly inside the hen and then the yolk can remain inside the hen and cause an internal infection. EYP is almost always fatal.
A few weeks ago, another of our hens, Mindy, was exhibiting similar symptoms. She was somewhat more lethargic than normal and she was also walking upright like a penguin. We recognized the symptoms from our prior experience. We separated her from the flock.
After last time, we had asked around the area and had been given the names of several local vets who are willing to see chickens. We packed her up in a travel dog crate and took her to the vet at their first open slot.
Not surprisingly, in the waiting room, we were the only one with a chicken instead of a dog or cat.
After meeting with the vet, the situation was not looking great. Mindy’s abdomen was enlarged and somewhat solid to the touch. The vet could not provide a specific diagnosis and there were a number of possibilities, most of them were very likely to be fatal.
Mindy’s only realistic chance was exploratory surgery. The vet could not provide any likelihood for success because there are very few chicken surgeries (the cost of a chicken is so low compared to the cost of surgery that few people ever take chickens to a vet at all, let alone for a surgery). We opted for the surgery.
Her surgery was the next morning. Click through to see how it turned out. Continue reading
Chickens like to scratch in the dirt, leaf litter and other areas to look for bugs to eat. To help them exercise their natural instincts, we decided to build a sandbox for the chickens near their coop.
Here is a video of the chickens enjoying their sandbox for the first time last fall. You can see them scratching at the surface and then looking for anything that might be edible.
The construction was very simple and cheap. We used 4 logs from downed trees on our property. We just placed them into a rectangle.
Then, for the sand to fill the sandbox, we used excess sand that was kicked up from the drilling rig when it drilled the holes for our geothermal heating system. I used the loader on the tractor to move the sand. It cleaned up the excess sand in the yard and helped the chickens at the same time.
Occasionally we rake the top layer if the sand becomes too packed. We also throw some seeds or other food on top of the sandbox to re-generate interest in the sand from the chickens.
You may recall that we picked up a couple of new hens from the NY State Fair earlier in the fall. We quarantined them in the chicken tractor for a few weeks to make sure they settled in to the new area and they were healthy.
After a couple of weeks and no signs of illness, we moved the chicken tractor into the field with the main flock so the new hens could see and smell the main flock while safely in the chicken tractor. Many members of the main flock crowded around the chicken tractor to meet the new hens.
Neither the main flock nor the new hens seemed troubled by each other and we were hopeful that the full integration would be successful.
Sometimes you end up buying something unexpectedly. This can occur anywhere, even (maybe especially?) at the NY State Fair – and fried cookie dough, fried oreos, and other atypically fried foods don’t really count as those are now expected at the fair.
One of our neighbors mentioned that they bought a steam mop at the fair a couple of years ago. At this year’s fair, we even saw the steam mop display, but just walked on by.
However, we did end up with an unexpected purchase from a different area of the fair – the poultry building. As the fair was more than half over, there were a number of chickens on display in the poultry building that were listed for sale. We ended up with 2 new black and white Wyandotte hens!
The seller put them into a small wood and wire crate for transport. I actually just carried the crate with the hens in it right out of the fairgrounds. Although no one tried to stop us or verify the purchase, we did get a lot of strange looks from other fair-goers throughout the grounds and especially on the shuttle bus out to the parking lot.
The crate was not very large for 2 hens and the hens kept trying to squeeze out of the gap in the top before we got home.
One of our hens laid another mystery egg last week. At first glance, the egg looked relatively normal other than being slightly more translucent than usual.
However, it didn’t feel like a normal egg. See the below picture for how the side of the egg would indent and bounce back in response to pressure.
What was inside the mystery egg and what was the cause?
After a few weeks in the chicken tractor (see http://www.luckypennyacres.org/2016/06/26/baby-chicks-venture-outside/), the baby chicks were old enough to merge into the main flock. To help the integration process, we put the chicken tractor inside the main field where the main flock spends most of its time so all of the chickens could see and get used to the cochins before we merged them together.
We first introduced them into the main coop late in the evening when it was already after sunset and all of the chickens were roosting. Chickens are mostly asleep / zoned out while roosting so the older chickens didn’t make a big fuss and we were able to place the young chicks on the roost bars without any issues.
The chicks were also mostly asleep at the time, but the next morning they took the opportunity to explore the coop.
Click through to read more about their integration into the flock.