Last spring, we decided to take on the role of chicken farmer. This was inspired by a friend of my husband’s, Richard, whose family had a bunch of chickens. We were sitting out on the deck with him and he was thinking of adding to his flock. I was doing my normal geeking thing and came across an ad under farm and garden for chicks, $1.00 each! He thought that was a good deal and had me contact them for him.
Apparently, Richard changed his mind, because when I told him about the reply, he said his parents didn’t want any. So, my husband convinced me that they would cost next to nothing and were about the easiest “starter farm” animal and that we should get some!
We drove about an hour east for these $1.00 chickens and bought 12 of them. It turns out, we could have just gone to a swap or something and paid about the same, and saved a lot of time and gas, but I had no idea there was such a thing at the time. They were so cute and tiny! They chirped all the way home.
So, we put them in a rabbit hutch under the porch with water and food and called it good for now. We decided they could free-range when they got bigger.
The next morning, we had 2 that were dead. The day after, we had 2 more that were dead. So, I called an emergency family meeting and we voted for learning something about chickens before we killed anymore. I promptly went to the library and checked out about 10 books on the subject. When I got home, I found one to be very readable and informative, while the others were duds. I read the whole thing in a couple of hours and then called another family meeting.
Apparently, baby chicks need HEAT! 95 degrees the first week of life, -5 degrees for each week of life until they get all their feathers around 5-8 weeks and they should be indoors for the first couple of months with short “play time” outside. Well, it’s a wonder they didn’t all die the first night because it had gotten down to 40 degrees.
We went to Orschlens and got some heat lamps and moved the cage we had put them in under the porch out to the
garden shed. They were much happier.
We had a very good survival rate after we researched them! 🙂
ANYWAY! Free-range is great for the chickens and the ticks, but not good for my porch. I hate chicken poop on the porch! We decided we needed to find a better home for the chickens (not my garden shed) and fence them in.
I saved a ton o
n my coop and run with the help of craigslist. I look forward to sharing it with you in a later post!