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!
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!
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:
Chicks brains are pretty simple really. But as they get older you can see them getting smarter and smarter! When they’re tiny they are just reacting to things around them. Then one day they start to recognize you. They start looking at you….watching you…..and then start to follow every move you make. Some more than others. Don’t listen to people who say chickens are dumb. They are actually very smart! Okay, there are exceptions, just like there are with people.
If you watch the videos on YouTube you will notice there are a few chicks looking at the lid to the brooder looking for a way to get out. When I open the lid to change out food and water there are 2 girls in particular that have jumped up through the opening! Scared me to death! Could be a nasty fall if they fell on the floor! That was the first sign they are ready to leave the small brooder. They are getting bigger so it’s a little more crowded.
The next step brooder is a larger wood one that we built. Since it’s winter we are going to have to set it up inside in our chicken supply storage area. We cover the cement floor with a tarp, then some absorbent paper for animal cages, and then a light layer of pine shavings. We add a couple ceramic heating panels to keep the temperature around 70 degrees. We have a nifty thermometer gun that we use to test temperature. You shoot a laser pointer at the spot you want to know the temperature of. The temperature is a perfect 70 degrees right by the panels!
I can’t wait to move them in!
See how ready the girls are to move on their YouTube Channel:
Look at how big the chicks are after only 3 weeks! Below is a picture taken at 2 weeks. Almost all their downy feathers have fallen off! As you can see they aren’t as stressed out at this age as they were with the big ugly monsters putting their hands in and out of their cage.
They are also eating twice as much as they were at 2 weeks and ditto on the pooping! It’s a little stinky in the basement! But they are so adorable it’s worth tolerating it.
See how tiny and stressed the chicks are at 2 weeks old on their YouTube Channel:
Wow has our mystery chick grown!! Outgrown all the others. And I finally got confirmation on what our free mystery chick is. A Barred Rock or Plymouth Rock. A sturdy chicken and great egg layer. Now for the second mystery…..I was taking a video of the chicks coming out of the coop hoping to catch our rooster crowing. I heard a crow, but it wasn’t from the rooster I was watching! It was from this chicken who I now know is a second rooster! Ooof! At least this one is more docile than the white one.
Sorry the video is a little long, but it’s how I found out who was crowing. You’ll notice the Barred one walk into the coop door, faintly crow and the rest of the flock freaks and makes a mad dash to the door! Funny chicks!
Remember the white chicks I didn’t order that started to get brown feathers? Well, I still don’t know what the heck kind of chickens they are, but I do know something new about one of them.
I opened up the coop door this morning and the chicks started pouring out. Most of them made it outside and started pecking the ground when the speckled one in the picture said ” Ca COOOOO! It was LOUD and scared the heck out of the flock! They all ran to the coop door and climbed over each other to get in. Okay….so it wasn’t a true “cock-a-doodle-doo” but it was clearly a great adolescent attempt at a crow!
Our newly revealed little rooster was surprised to see everyone running for the door and had that “what did I do?” look on his face. He just sat dumbfounded until the other chicks decided to carefully make the trip back outside.
So…..now that we know one of those 4 white chicks I didn’t order is a rooster, that begs the question….are they all roosters?!! They have been getting obnoxious lately. Pecking at each other, staring each other down, and pecking US when we try to touch them or when we’re holding good food. Oh….and they especially like my toenail polish.
We’ve decided we can keep 1 rooster with the flock, or 2 docile roosters, but can obviously not keep 4. I read up on what to do with extra roosters, and someone suggested that roosters can get along fine with each other if there are no hens around. Maybe we can give them a bachelor pad of their own. Hubby suggested them to be free range, in other words, no chicken run. It’s a thought, but clearly he’s willing to sacrifice them more than I am.
I’ll just ride this out until we are sure how many roosters we really have! Until then, I’ll start bring my camera out every morning when I open the coop. Maybe I’ll catch a crow for you!