Funny story…… I was in the middle of writing this post about training the girls how to use the nesting boxes and how frustrated we are that it’s taking them longer than the old ladies to start laying. All of a sudden I receive this picture from the hubby who is taking care of the girls today! YAY! Our Rhode Island Red girls first egg!
Now I’m going to back track and tell you how we trained them!
We put the latest metal nesting boxes in the coop a few weeks ago so they could get used to it. Then 10 days ago we put the fake eggs in the area we want them to lay. The fake eggs are so life-like, including the weight, that we had to mark an X on the tip of the fake eggs to be sure we didn’t pull and sell them! Both of us had done it.
I let the girls watch me put the egg in the nesting area and backed up. They were very curious! Funny to watch.
Anyway, it looks like it worked because we have our first egg! I’m dying too see how big they get and how many we get in a day. Rhode Island Reds are notorious for laying many very large eggs. Let’s see if they can live up to their reputation!
Finally! After weeks of trying to get the new girls to spend more time outside in their run we finally have success!
The girls are now egg laying age but we haven’t seen any eggs! Sunlight has a lot to do with their egg laying cycle and it seems like they haven’t been getting enough sunshine to kick the egg laying into gear yet. They are Rhode Island Reds! They are known to be the best brown egg layers in the nation! Why aren’t we seeing any eggs yet?!
I had been bribing them with meal worms to get them outside but they don’t necessarily stay outside so I spend a little time with them to keep them entertained. Well…..I’m the one being entertained! They stick to me like glue when I’m out in the run with them. I can’t even move! They have me circled all the time! They are sooooo funny!
Well….at least they are making progress. Get some sun girls! We need eggs please!
Today we introduced the girls to their nesting box for the first time. They will be 16 weeks old on June 13 which is usually the age when they start to lay eggs! We are so excited for them!
So how did they react to the nesting box? They reacted just like they do with everything else. They were scared at first, and then they pecked it. They pecked it and then they pecked it again. They loved that it was made of steel. It’s makes a beautiful sound when pecked! I have decided that just like babies or puppies who need to put every new thing in their mouth to see what it is and whether they like it, chickens have to peck everything to test it out…. including my ankles! You’ll hear me get pecked in the video.
Tomorrow I’ll introduce them to the fake eggs. The fake eggs are a training tool to show them where their eggs go. You just sit it in the nesting box. It really works! These eggs are actually made at the same weight as real eggs so they are very life-like. We have even accidentally collected a fake egg from the nesting boxes every now and then thinking it was real. Luckily we thought to put a little X on the tip of the fake eggs to tell the difference. The girls are not as dumb as you think. After awhile the chickens start to realize which eggs are fake and kick them out of the nest. That’s when you know they don’t need them anymore.
Check out the girls investigating their new toy, then nesting box.
This batch of new chicks are amazing. I always heard that Rhode Island Red chickens were different in personality but they are SO much different than the other breeds we had. They are more brave, inquisitive, and very assertive. They are so pushy I can’t even tell you how difficult it is to go into the coop, feed and water them, and just get back out. They are completely under foot, pulling on you and pecking at every spot that looks interesting on your clothes. They want to play all the time!
Here are some of the recent firsts for the littles that made us laugh.
First coop clean out:
I wasn’t aware at first but did you know that young chicks go through 8 moltings before they get their final adult feathers? Well this batch of chicks has been shedding and growing new feathers it seems like forever! They are eating twice as much food as the older ladies and that means twice as much poop! Since they have been refusing to go outside in the run it’s all stacking up inside and stinking! So I finally changed out the bedding and dumped a brand new bale of pine shavings in the middle of the floor. They didn’t even give me a chance to grab my camera! They were all over it, tearing it down! Remember dust bathing girl? Trying to dust bath without any dirt? When the chips came out she plopped herself down and started to bathe with the chips! That was funny enough but then the other littles started to pull the pine shavings off of her! Then another little joined in with her! You have to see the video:
Trying to Get the Littles Outside:
You didn’t see them all but I took 5 videos trying to get the littles to go outside, but they wouldn’t even venture off the chicken ladder! For brave girls they certainly took a long time finally getting outside! They were 10 weeks old when I finally shoved them out! And of course they enjoyed themselves. Funny enough they haven’t gone out since. Check them out:
When we moved the littles into the coop they insisted on laying on top of each other in a pile in the corner of the floor at night. They should be roosting! Stupidly they picked the corner underneath the hanging feeder full of food which is right in front of the drafty chicken door. They couldn’t stand up without hitting the feeder and knocking food on the floor. We left a new poop deck shelf on the wall and put their training perch on top but they had no interest. At 12 weeks old we finally started to see poop under the perch on top of the poop deck! (It’s sad to see how excited we get about poop). So now we know it’s time to put up the roost! What an exciting day! The littles are turning into big girls at 3 months of age and they have huge feet! Although we had to pick the girls up and put them on the roost to get them started they seem to be getting the hang of it! Check it out. Oh…..and they are having a good time pulling, tugging and pecking like always!
The chicks are 8 weeks old and getting big! Still scared of everything though. It was a beautiful day. One of the nicest days we’ve had this year so I took the time to clean out the chicken run. Not only did I rake out everything I also removed all their old toys. Wanted to make everything extra specially clean! They will get all new toys.
Since it was such a nice day I figured the littles might like their first try outside! I opened the chicken door and didn’t really get the reaction I was hoping for.
Watch what the littles do when I open the door to their chicken run on their YouTube channel. Spoiler alert, some walk out the door but none of them touch the ground!
I couldn’t resist. The old ladies were free ranging and I was going into the coop to feed the littles. The old ladies were trying to fight their way inside so I got curious as to how they would react to the little girls. So……I let one of them in!
Interestingly enough the buffs were more interested in the food bucket than the littles! Stewart the Rooster was the funniest. All I could see in his eyes was ….”additions to my harem!” The Easter Egger was the most curious. She spent the most time checking them out. Unfortunately something I noticed about Easter Eggers is they tend to look and act a little more wild than the other chicken breeds.
I was soaking one of the Egger’s feet one night next to the brooder when the chicks were only a week old. The older Egger got a wild look in her eyes, darted glances all about the cage and had her mouth hanging open! Yikes! She scared me a little! Yet the Eggers are still my favorite. No, they do not have fluffy feathered butts like the others, and when you need to catch them they run much faster. They can be a pain!
But now we have a coop full of young, overactive Rhode Island Reds. They are taking a very long time establishing the pecking order. Bumping chests, flying at each other in the air and pecking like mad! Makes me wonder if we have roosters in this batch again! If not is this a sneak peak of a future angry flock?! Double yikes!
Well, I guess we will see! Wish me luck!
Watch the older chickens checking out the Littles on the their YouTube channel:
Today is the big day! The chicks are finally moving into the coop! First I had to tear out EVERYTHING and clean every surface. It’s a long job to do it right.
It started with shoveling out all the used pined shavings and dumping them into the tractor bucket, driving them and dumping them into the compost pile. Since we were using the deep litter method over the winter this meant 5 trips! A lot of compost!
The feeders, waterers, roosts and nesting boxes were all moved out. Then I swept everything out. We installed linoleum on the floor so it was very easy to sweep and clean. To make sure everything was clear of any debris from the older chickens I pull out the shop vac next and vacuum every surface in the coop. I find it’s cleaner in the end this way because adding water to a dusty surface just makes the dirt stick. If you vacuum first then wash, its super clean!
I wash everything with dish soap and a little oil soap to smother insects. Then I spray with a very diluted bleach water to disinfect. After it’s dry I spread diatomaceous earth in the cracks of the wood in walls, floors and especially around the windows. This prevents pests from getting in.
Spread some pine shavings down and we are ready to move the chicks in! Because it’s so stressful for them we tried to put them in boxes to move them but it seemed to stress them out even more. So we ended up grabbing 2 at a time and walking them outside and into the new digs! They love it! Space!!
Look at how big the littles have gotten! This is week 6 and they look like little velociraptors! I call it the ugly teen years. They are not very attractive!
Did you know that birds were the original dinosaurs? Ever wonder why the T-Rex has tiny hands? That’s right.Today’s chickens are descendants from dinosaurs. Possibly even the velociraptor. There is evidence of a dinosaur bird that looked like an emu, ran like an ostrich and super vicious. All birds of today came from that bird. Explains these girls attitude and smarts!
Anyway, just like teenagers I have to keep them from escaping their room. At first there was only one girl flapping her wings and jumping up to the edge. I would pet her for a little bit and then put her back in. Then it was two, then three and now we are in trouble!
Normally at this age we would put them in the coop but we are still having snow storms. It’s too cold out. Plus we still have our big ladies in the coop! We are in the process of putting together a nice new home for the ladies in the barn. We can’t just add 20 new girls the coop. That’s too many chickens for the space. Plus the big ladies are too set in their ways so would not be very accepting of the littles. Mixing could literally be fatal!
So now what do we do? We build a cover for the brooder which finally stops the madness. That’s the solution for now.
Watch one of the littles try to escape the brooder by watching their YouTube Channel:
So it was a week of firsts for the littles! So what have we tried?
We started by putting a tray of dirt down expecting them to start dust bathing. It took 3 days for them to get brave enough to get into the tray! Once they got a hang of getting in the tray they decided to eat the dirt rather than dust bathe! After eating half the tray I pulled it out.
Then I shredded up some dandelion leaves and dropped them in. After getting over the fear they tasted them but weren’t impressed.
The next day I walked into something that looked a little like Fight Club! The littles were puffing up their chests, posturing and bouncing off each other! They must have been establishing their pecking order. They start it young!
They had their first brooder cleaning where I had to climb in with them. I thought I would scare the heck out of them but they were actually pretty excited to take a ride on my shoes!
I mentioned we have a laser gun temperature gauge. You shoot the laser light onto the object you want to take the temperature of. At first the littles were afraid of it but pretty soon it was a game of catch! They also seem fascinated with finger movements. Everywhere your finger goes they follow.
We have to clean out this brooder twice a week. On my second trip in I was wearing a hoodie with strings that the littles went wild for!
Finally, a few of the girls got brave enough to jump up on the perch we put in days earlier. Now they are fighting over who gets to use it!
Yep, a lot of firsts this week and this is just the beginning!
I tried to capture most of these on video just for you and have uploaded them on their YouTube channel!
The girls have graduated with their move into the large brooder. They are now known as “the Littles!” So when me or the hubby say…..I’m going to feed the chickens. We don’t have to ask…..which ones?
Remember how I said the littles were going to be more fun when they moved into the big brooder? We have so much fun with their curious antics. They are like babies and puppies. They put their mouths on everything! Unfortunately their mouths are armed with a pointy beak to they peck when they are investigating. Ouch!
Picking them up is fun too. Some like it better than others. Their objective is to stand higher than all the other girls so lifting them up can be very exciting for them?
See how big the chicks are at 4 weeks on their YouTube channel: