Time and tide wait for no one…
Chicks? What chicks? I don’t have any chicks… oh those? Those pullets in the yard? Oh, I’ve had those for a long time. No, really, I think they came with the house.
You have started on the coop, right?
I hope so, because it’s taken all of my spare time for the last two months to keep up with the chicks/pullets’ progress. Kitchen box to brood hut to transitional coop/run. They are growing growing growing so I am going going going. I didn’t even have time to take pictures of the new “South Wing” construction, but I thought I’d post a few photos to give people an idea of what I’m doing.
So here is a view of the old and new run area. The adults have lived comfortably for ten years in the structure to the right. Theoretically, I could have just crammed more chickens into the existing infrastructure. However, with six chickens, I thought that I should give everyone some more room. This helps in many ways. Everything from manure management to the “pecking order” is moderated by the extra room. Also, the chicks are not supposed to eat the calcium rich “layer food”, so the south wing takes care of that issue as well.
This is nothing fancy, no chicken mansion here. I took all the off cuts from the plywood/brood hut project, cut them in half, and then made a simple frame. Viola: one functional chicken box. I left the infra-red light on so they would recognize “home”. Right after I took these pictures, we turned off the infra red light. This was the first time the chicks had been in the dark, and sure enough, they would not go into the dark box. They started wandering around, looking for their roost, and giving out out with the distressed peeping as the sun went down. Tough love isn’t going to work in this situation, chickens NEED to go home to roost, and in this case, that light was the homing device. Hmmm, I have these solar powered “drive way lights” out in the garden, so I grab a couple, stick them in the chick coop, and viola! they all pile in, line up on the roost,and act like the perfect chickens. By the next evening, the chicks got into the coop by sun down, settled on the roost, and were asleep by night fall. Did I cave in and give the babies a night light? Yes, I did, but just for one night, and now they are perfectly adjusted pullets. Go with the flow, or just go.
And speaking of going with the flow… if you are introducing new chicks to an old flock, there will always be some tension. Here’s Cleo, nine years old, laying everyday (those hormones are hopping!) and she is in a head pecking mood. She will chase the new chicks, and she will peck at them if she can catch them, but at this point, I encourage the interaction, they can get used to each other, the chicks can totally out run the old bird, and everything turns out right in the end.