Chickens!

For YEARS I’ve wanted to raise chickens. Well, this past Spring Dave finally let me get some chicks. I ordered 6 Red Star chicks from our local garden center. I ordered Red Stars because they are sex linked so you can be guaranteed that you are getting a ‘girl’/hen and not a rooster. I am not ready for a rooster yet! Red Stars are friendly and they are great layers in hot and cold weather. And that’s what I wanted…nice pets and lots of eggs! On March 30 they were hatched and ready for pick up.

Here they are on their first day home:

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They totally looked alike and we couldn’t really tell them apart but we did name them. We tried to paint their foot with different color nail polishes so we could tell who was who but that didn’t last long. One of them was acting funny. She kept falling down and wouldn’t eat or drink. We didn’t know what was wrong with her but we didn’t think she was going to make it. And she didn’t. She died that night. That was Mary’s chick. So, the next day I called the garden center and they said we could come and get a replacement. I took Mary with me so she could pick out a new chick. They didn’t have any Red Stars left but they had some Black Stars (just like the Red Star only black) so Mary picked one of those. She named her ‘Pepper Ninja’. And while we were there we decided to get an Easter Egger chick because they lay light blue/green eggs and we thought that would be cool. Matt named the Easter Egger ‘Samus Leghorn’. They are the only two we know by name only because they are different from the others.

Here’s Pepper Ninja and Samus:

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Since it was still chilly here in Pennsylvania we had to keep them in the house under a heat light. But they grew quick! Dave and David built them a nice coop and they were able to move into their new home on Memorial Day weekend.

Here are my guys working on the coop:

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I didn’t really know much about raising chickens but I did do my research. There are a lot of great resources out there! The biggest question for me was what to feed them? I learned that chicks (up to 8 weeks) need starter feed which has the highest percentage of protein for optimal growth. Then they become ‘teenagers’ (8 to 18 weeks) and need grower feed. And then at 18 weeks and on you need to give them layer feed which has more calcium that is essential for eggshell production. And they can have treats too. My ‘girls’ love watermelon and cucumbers!

Here they are enjoying some watermelon on a hot day…haven’t they gotten so big?

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Did you know that chickens take ‘dust baths’? It’s a chicken equivalent of a shower…it’s both functional and recreational. Chickens use dust baths to clean themselves and to relax. And for humans it’s quite entertaining to watch! If I didn’t already know about dust baths the nurse in me would think they were having a convulsion and needed medical attention!

My Easter Egger taking a dust bath…I know, no privacy!

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My biggest question was ‘when are they going to start laying eggs’? In my research, I found that the “point of lay” varies but can start around 18 weeks. Which brings us to the first week in August which is when they would be 18 weeks. And I found the first egg on August 1st!  I’m not sure which chicken laid it but I am so “eggcited”! 

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