New chicks, no coops

hi, my name is..........

hi, my name is..........

2 partridge silkie bantams and a buff "something"

2 partridge silkie bantams and a buff "something"

Well, I got the call at 6:30 Weds. morning, June 4, from our post office in Caddo Mills that our chicks had arrived and please pick them up now or they will die.  So out of bed we hopped and changed clothes and drove a few miles to the post office.  We bought our chicks from Ideal Poultry in Cameron, TX, in the area of College Station/Bryan/Temple.  They   arrived bright eyed and chirping loudly. 

Our coops are in the process of being completed.  I will be posting pics and the plans soon.  In the meantime, these little chicks will stay in the garage for the next four weeks until they are big enough to be outside in coops full time. 

For now, I have all 30 in an oblong sized 6’x2’x2′ galvanized stock watering tank that was here on the property when we bought it.  I have been using it to store my bags of alpaca feed away from mice and other creatures in the barn and it has worked great. Now it is home to the chicks in the garage and really doesn’t take up much space in our garage since it is oversized and we have room to the front for it to sit and electrical outlets nearby to plug in the lamp.  Also suggested was to use a wading pool (I don’t think this would be tall enough without a heavy cover), and also several bins or tubs, tall enough so they can’t jump or fly out, grouped so the brooder lamps can keep a spot in each one warm. 

First  I put a 3 ” layer of small shavings and I read that chicks will try to eat these and to cover the shavings with a burlap or rough texture cover (not newspaper; too slick for their feet).  Also mentioned was using paper towels.  I used an old sheet that is working quite well.  I will launder it and I have another old sheet to switch of with.  I will use bleach in the wash to help disinfect.

At one end of the tank I set up a tall step ladder straddling the tank and hung the brooder lamp with an infrared bulb in it for heat.  They need approx 90 degrees of warmth with room to move out of the area if it is too warm for them.  We can adjust the warmth (move the lamp higher) as they get older and need less heat.  That takes up about 1/3 of the length at one end; in the middle I put a homemade waterer that works really slick at no cost (a 1 lb coffee can set in the middle of a striaght sided heavy dog dish about 1″ larger diam. than the can; punch 4 or 5 holes in the can at a level below the top of the dog dish; take into account the fact the dish may not set level and so holes must be below the bowl rim about 1/4″ or so); fill the can with water and it will stop flowing into the dog bowl when the water level hits those holes in the can.  It will refill as the water drops below the holes.  Be sure to clean those items first with a combination bleach/water mix to disinfect; rinse well.

I am going to rig up a feeder in a similar fashion, but for now they are feeding from a small heavy bowl about 1″ high.  That feeding  station is at the opposite end of the tank.  They are eating grower/starter with grit sprinkled on the top.  I have been cutting some grass with scissors and snipping into small pieces into their feed and they love it.   I also read it is ok to provide worms, bugs, etc. as treats for them.

When they move out to the coops I will buy those commercial feeders and waterers that will hang a certain distance off the floor and out of the way.  They are not too expensive and different sizes will accommodate the size of flock you have.

The order I placed was for 10 rare breed pullets (I got 2 of each of these:  Red Caps; Black Breasted Red Kraienkoppes; Norwegian Jaerhon; Buff Cornish; Buff Wyandotte) 10 Partridge Silkie Bantams straight run, and 10 Guineas straight run (It looks like I got some of each:  White; Pearl and Lavender). 

One article I read said if you get chicks, don’t plan on going on any trips for a month.  Even a day trip must be planned so someone can “babysit”.  The chicks must be checked on multiple times a day; replenish food; clean out waterer if dirty, check the heat, etc., etc.  Luckily this worked so we have no events to trave to until July and I am home fulltime so I can tend to them.  They are growing fast and I may need to split them up into separate tubs later as they need more room to move.  But since they can move out to the coops in a month I don’t think it will be a problem for long.

This will give us time to also get the coops done exactly right; they will be so cute.  They are sized to hold about 10 each.  The flocks can be intermingled with any variety of poultry; I have each  coop in a different alpaca pasture, each pasture already fenced and electrified top and bottom wires, but close to the barn for ease of cleanout and feed and water maintenance.  The coops are elevated on concrete blocks to provide space underneath for dust bath and shade.  The poultry will have free range and will be locked up in the coop at night to avoid owls and other predators. 

I will be taking pictures and posting those soon of the coops and the chicks; they grow so fast; feathers are already coming in nicely.

Advertisements

My new chicken coops

this will be the front; door in the middle

this will be the front; door in the middle

one down, two to go

one down, two to go

My alpacas will soon have “neighbors”.  My husband is building 3 chicken coops; one for each pasture.   I found the design and it is simple enough and sized for a small flock.  I will post the pictures when completed.  We expect our poultry (10 each: rare breed pullets, partridge silkie bantams, and guineas) to arrive later this week from Ideal Poultry in Texas.  I am going shopping to get all the necessary items for making waterers, feeders, and bedding and nests.  I found some great ideas for homemade waterers and feeders.  I hated to spend the money for those fancy commercially made ones.  These are made from 5 gal buckets that sit in a 20 inch planter base.  How easy is that?  And cheap too.  The finish out of the coops will take a little more time but just getting them made so I can have their house ready will be great.  They will be in pastures already fenced with electric wire top and bottom so I think they should be predator proof except for the stray snake that may try to find eggs.  The only other issue would be hawks.  I just don’t want to have anything getting my chickens.

I luckily have a very good carpenter/husband.  He is an architect but loves to design and make furniture for us and our kids out on their own.   He has made media centers, tables, standing bookshelves, picture frames, etc.  We are thinking of marketing the coops if all goes well.  they are not cheap, but they are very sturdy, easy to build, and nice looking and I think will be low maintenance and easy to keep clean.  I am using the deep litter method for the coop interior which will keep clean out to once or twice a year.  The coop is raised on concrete block so they have a cool space underneath to use for dusting and getting out of the Texas sun and weather.  I will be painting the exterior and shingling the roof as time permits.

I will post pics of the coops and (hopefully) happy chickens probably later in the week.  I absolutely love chickens and can’t wait.