I moved the chickens out into their coop last night! After a last minute trip to Home Depot and some hurried carpentry after work, I managed to complete the coop enough for the girls to take up residence.
The run isn’t finished and there are a number of things left to do on the coop, but it’s good enough to get them out of the Rubbermaid tub in my laundry room and into some more spacious quarters.
The chickens, as chickens are wont to do, continue to eat and grow.
I took Friday off this week because I have too much unused PTO; I’m going to see if I can finish up their coop with a 3-day weekend.
The chicken habitat in the back yard is coming along pretty well. I got the footings in the ground and framed up the walls and rafters.
All framed up
It’s five by ten feet, which should be pretty good for four hens. I’ll let them out into the rest of the yard when I’m home and can keep an eye on them, but when I’m at the office they’ll mostly live in here. The walls will be half-inch mesh hardware cloth, which should keep the rodents and hawks out and the chickens in. There will be an elevated enclosed coop section on the right side where they can sleep and lay eggs, and the rest will be open run.
I’m basing it on the plans for the Garden Coop, but I am constructing most of the details differently and mine is slightly larger.
The angle braces that you see in the image are temporary, they will be removed once the roof and coop walls are in place.
It’s been another busy week of eating and growing for the chickens out at my homestead. Also pooping.
I switched them over to Nutrena feed from the Purina that I started them on. My motivation was that Nutrena is what Sam’s Feed in San Jose carries, but there seem to be some benefits to the new feed as well. The Nutrena chick crumbles are more evenly and finely ground and less dusty than the Purina product. Also the chicks seem to be…ah…how should I put this politely? Their “output” seems to be more solid with the Nutrena feed, and they’re less messy.
They are probably ready to go outside now, since the weather is nice and warm. We’re seeing highs in the 80s and nightly lows in the low 60s. It’s just up too me to get their coop finished.
The chicks are about three weeks old now. I’ve had them for 2 1/2, so they are probably about three weeks out of the shell. The big girl is more like 4 weeks.
They have been growing like crazy! Here’s what they look like today, except for the Maran which I didn’t get a picture of.
They are getting into the phase where they are definitely not little balls of fluff anymore but neither are they fully feathered. It will be about four more weeks until they really look like chickens and not chicks.
It’s getting difficult to photograph them; they won’t sit still for even a second. Once I get any one of them out of the brooder they start looking around like mad. Three out of four of them are now perfectly comfortable on the perch I put in the brooder, and the big girl immediately hops up onto the rim whenever I take the lid off.
I built a day/night controller so that the baby chickens can have something resembling a diurnal cycle. This wasn’t strictly necessary, people have raised chickens with nothing more than a light bulb on a cord for decades and they turn out fine. I can’t resist an opportunity to build a nifty gizmo however, so I put together the Chicken Controller.
It has a double-throw time switch, which basically means that it can switch automatically between the red heat lamp and the white heat lamp to simulate night and day in the chicks’ little Rubbermaid universe. So far it seems to be working out pretty well.
So as thought I didn’t already have more projects than I can handle, I’ve added another one to my list: Backyard chickens!
I picked up four little chicks last weekend when I was passing through Auburn, and I set up a nice warm brooder for them with fresh water and Purina baby poultry feed.
Breeds from left to right: Rhode Island Red, Cuckoo Maran, Sicilian Buttercup, Ameraucana
The buttercup in particular is very friendly, when I reach into the brooder she’ll climb right up onto my hand. The other three are a bit more skittish but they seem to be getting along.
I’ve got about 5 weeks to build a chicken coop, otherwise it will be so crowded in the brooder that I’ll have to move them into my bathtub or something.