Chookie Freedom

The “chicken tractor” is parked, the feeder and waterers are ready, and the chicks are convincingly ready transition to a space beyond their brooder, beyond the absorbent substrate of aspen chips over ground corn cob and onto real grass, dirt and all the local flora and fauna, well that is what I hope.

I have dusted around the initial site with DE and a little sulfur since I have learned during my first spring and summer on this property that there are chiggers and mites galore around here. Enough so IMO to warrant some natural help at this juncture.

Here they are just before moving:

Minutes before moving

 And here they are in the new tractor;


They really seem to like it.


Week 3 and it is time to get them outside

All 26 appear to be thriving and peeping and pooping after 3 weeks. 

Summer heat and humidity has been setting in, but my chookies have just gotten thier first exposure to the humidity over the past few days only, because I have opened the window in the spare room where I am brooding.

 They have been in a room where the AC keeps it at about 80, and they have had a reflector lamp with a 65w floodlight  on a corner of the brooder, up until the past few days. I have been watching them and adjusting for ventilation, AC, light (heat) distance, etc.

Ready to move 

 They are ready to go outside and I am ready to get them out, the chicken tractor will be ready by this evening.

Tractor Almost Ready

Day 6

Day 4b

All 26 are still happy and peeping. I have learned a lot already, one of which is that I don’t really like corn cob litter for chicks, I went with it because it seemed the least dusty option, since I am using a spare interior room for the brooder. Without the paper towel ingestion protection that was advised for the first 3 days, there is a problem with the litter being scratched into the trough chick feeder. Especially by one dark cornish evil chick in particular. That brings me to the next lesson, I don’t like trough chick feeders, too easily poluted with scratching and the roof-like cover does little to keep the chicks from trying their darndest to roost and poop into the feed.

I have raised the feeder trough and 1 gal waterer on 2x4s to get them on a better level for eating and drinking as they have seemed to almost doubled in height. I hope this helps keep them cleaner as well.

No problems so far.

day 4

Chicks are here

48 hours 

Most of my chicks arrived safely on Monday. Sadly the trip was too much for one of them as it was DOA, I feel bad about it, but life must go on for me and the remaining 26. I think it was a barred rock, I am still figuring out which breed the blackish ones are, I could watch them for days on end, so cute and vulnerable, yet already showing a certain chicken ferocity.

 The above proves that my basic camera has an interesting effect when combined with a red infrared heat lamp.

One of the Delawares really must think that my hand is “mommy” because it comes running with some intent whenever my hand enters the brooder. I am starting to feel the names coming on for this one and a couple others.

BTW, before they arrived I brought the brooder (100 gal stock tank) into the house to start out on the safe side, the temperature and humidity in the “garage” has been just too unstable to maintain good brooding conditions. Last night I went from the 250w red infrared down to a 65 watt floodlight, the former just seemed too be a little much after the first day, I was loosing too much floor space to the really hot spot no matter how I aimed it.
I am leaning towards a chicken tractor design for the warmer months…

Natural Compromise is Born

Welcome friends!

Chick Order Placed

I bit my lip and finally placed an order with Murray McMurray Hatchery for 25 chicks, all heavy breeds to get my backyard flock started. 

I am looking to keep anywhere from 12-18 of them provided they all turn out to be healthy pullets, or tolerable cockerels. I chose the following sexed chicks:

5 Rhode Island Red

4 Barred Plymouth Rock

4 Dark Cornish

4 Black Australorp

4 Silver-laced Wyandotte

4 Delaware 

I am pretty nervous for the chicks, as there are shipping horror stories abound. I hate to have to use what many would consider to be chick factory, but I don’t see any other feasible options for getting started the way I want to. The chicks will be unvaccinated and they will of course only get organic, soy-free, non-vegetarian feed until they get to the age when unsprayed pasture can be added, along with the accpomanying species-appropriate animal tissues, thanks to local abundance of a variety of bugs.

I am unsure about the location of the brooder at this time, as outdoor (open garage) temperatures for the past couple weeks ranging from the mid 50s to the mid 90s.

 I am also very unsure about litter material and flooring for the brooder, every substrate seems to have online horror tales. I know that whatever I use, there will be clean paper towels covering it for the first 3 days.