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the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


New backyard chicken keeper reporting!

I'm thrilled to find this thread here, I figured there probably be a farm animal thread in PI but this is perfect. I just moved into a house that has a chicken coop already built on the side, and they left us a chicken as well. She's only one or two years old, and she's definitely laying pretty good. I'm not sure what time she does it yet, but we're pending on an egg a day for the last 5 days right now, we even had a decent snowstorm the last few days and the temperatures have been pretty low. We're in Colorado, so it does get cold, although it's been remarkably warm this winter. Anyway here's a couple pictures, hopefully you goons can help us come up with a good name.



She's really pretty, looks black but her feathers glow green and purple in the sunlight. I had no idea there were so many varieties of chicken until I skimmed this thread, do you guys have any idea what she is? We are most definitely going to get a couple more, it seems to me that there is plenty of room in the coop. It measures about 65 square feet, with 50 outdoors and 15 inside. I don't want any more than we need, so I'm thinking 2 more is probably the sweet spot.

Coop pics


She's not really a camera whore, she just follows me every loving where I go. The previous owner never let her out of the coop, I have once. The yard is pretty much 100% dirt, so all there is for her to munch on is weeds. There are a lot of predators around here, we are pretty much right on the foot of the Rockies, but it seems like the coop at least is pretty well locked down. We only have chain link fence a few feet high, so I'm not so sure that it's a good idea to leave her out unattended.

One of my biggest questions is what is the general consensus on how long chicks have to be kept indoors? I would imagine that it probably wouldn't be safe to leave them outdoors until at least May, so I'm just trying to figure out when we should get everything started. I found the link someone posted for jackshenhouse.com and I'm going to browse that, but any advice on raising chicks for the first time would be appreciated. We have 2 cats, but we also have a spare room that we can devote entirely to the chicks and keep the house predators away.

Edit: Just checked my local ordinance, 10 chickens allowed with no roosters and no permit. 4 square feet per bird, so I do have plenty of space.

the good fax machine fucked around with this message at Feb 5, 2012 around 19:00

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the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


I checked with the Humane Society, and they don't have any chickens. I haven't tried calling any feed stores yet, mostly due to the fact that all that BFE stuff is out beyond the east side of town and I live on the west. Craigslist yielded a few results, but once again all these people live out in the boonies and I couldn't decide whether $25 for a chicken was fair or not.

So I noticed just a few hours ago that my hen is eating her own eggs. I was checking up on her to see if she laid an egg yet today, and I noticed 1 1/2 destroyed eggs on the floor in the enclosure. They were about 2 feet from her normal nesting spot. I wasn't sure if she had just stepped on them or why she didn't lay them in the usual place, but after I threw them out I noticed her pecking at the stuff that was still stuck to the bedding. I read that it may be a calcium issue, so I gave her some cheese and getting some oyster shell later. Any suggestions on what else it could be? I'm all worried about her now.

Edit: Also, judging from a picture from a seller on CL I'm about 99% sure my hen is a Black Australorp.

the good fax machine fucked around with this message at Feb 7, 2012 around 21:59

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


Does anybody have any good ideas on some kind of temporary fencing? Our back yard isn't sectioned off from the front, and we are going to want to keep them in the back when it starts to get warmer and the plants start coming in. There is a really thin gap with a thick bush that she doesn't seem to be able to get through on the one side, on the other I think the ideal spot to section would be from the coop to the fence as it's the smallest distance, but it's still about 10 feet. Maybe just get a roll of chicken wire and unroll it when I let them out of the coop?

We've gotten the egg eating problem under control. Actually, it only happened the one time. It was definitely a calcium deficiency. The first egg she laid after eating the one was really pale and had an extremely thin shell. I hard boiled the egg and the shell practically dissolved when I cracked it. Anyway she got some cheese and spinach, and we got oyster shells the next day and everything is all good again. Egg shells are dark and strong, and she hasn't tried eating any!

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


Alright, so we picked up the chicks last night. They are cute as all hell and I promise I will post some pictures/video soon, but we are having an issue. We got 3 chicks, a black australorp, an easter egger and an ancona. The ancona is being a little poo poo stain. I knew it wasn't uncommon for chickens and presumably chicks to peck at each other, but this one is going straight for the eyes of the other chicks. She goes for their feet sometimes, but going for the eyes has been a really big problem. Sometimes she grabs hold of them and drags them around. There haven't been any injuries, we separated her from the others last night although she managed to get over the temporary fencing we put up. All she wants to do is cuddle with the other two when she's sleepy, but when she's awake she just can't seem to leave them alone.

I've read up as much as I can online, there were a couple of changes that we made to the brooder. We had a white light bulb originally, and switched to red this morning. We put up a better screen to keep them separate, but she just can not stand being in there by herself. I put a mirror in there with her to maybe help give her a clue. If anybody has any other tips/tricks it would be appreciated. She's a little sweetheart and we certainly don't want to have to get rid of anybody, but if she can't adapt that is unfortunately going to be the reality.

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


Well, I ended up putting our little eye pecker up on craigslist for free. I'm hoping somebody with a little more experience can take care of her. I hate to just give up on her, but it doesn't seem like it's very common for the problem to persist (or even happen at all). We are going to get a couple more, and this time I have the foresight to ask if I can watch them for a little bit before they just throw a couple in a box and send us on our way.

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


As promised, here are some pictures. I still don't have any videos uploaded, but they should come soon. First up is the three of them together, before Vinegar (the Ancona) started going eyeball crazy.


And closeups! First up is the Black Australorp, we named her Penguin.


This little one is my favorite. She's the one who got her eye pecked so bad that it wouldn't open, but I swabbed it with a q-tip and some water this afternoon and it's open and looking good again. She's the Americana and I named her Chocobo. She pecked the girlfriend's cat straight on the nose today too, such a badass.


And finally Vinegar, named for generally being a stinkyhole. I've gotten one response so far to the craigslist ad, so she may not be around here much longer. Here's a pic anyway.

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


Ceridwen posted:

It got up to almost 65 degrees outside today and was beautiful and sunny, so I took the chicks out in the backyard for the first time. They got to spend about 45 min in a little enclosure I set up and seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.

Oh wow, I didn't know you could take them out that early at that temperature. It's been about the same here, with forecasts in the 70's this week, so maybe I'll take them out sometime. It looks like yours are only a week or two old, and ours will be 3 weeks old tomorrow, so guess they're ready for some sunshine!

I have to go through and do individual pictures and I'll post them hopefully sometime tomorrow. We've gotten a few more and lost one (gave away the super aggressive one) since the last time I posted pics, I believe. They're all getting so big and feathery! The two that we have had all along are super tame, and will jump to get up on your hand if you put it down in the brooder. The other three are still kinda chicken but we are working on them and making good progress. I gave them some mealworms today, pinching down tight and only feeding enough for them to take small bites. We gave them some maybe a week ago and they were stealing the whole worms, and and eventually making GBS threads largely undigested worm husks. It's amazing how much these creatures poo poo, by the way. We only have 5 in a 8 square foot enclosure, and I knew I was going to have to clean it daily, but by the time it does get cleaned it's a horrible mess. Even 5 minutes after it's been cleaned, it's been shitted all over and walked through for good measure. Honestly can't wait for them to be out of the house, but I do love the little buggers.

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


I never got around to posting pictures last week as I had promised, so here's pictures from March 5 (2 weeks) on the left, and pictures from today on the right. They're a month old today, and halfway to being out of my house! First up are the two that we have had all along, Chocobo and Penguin.

Chocobo


Penguin


And next up we have the 3 newer chicks. We gave away the first Ancona we got and replaced it with another, and got another two Black Australorps. It's strange how much of a difference a couple days can make. The two pictured above are much tamer than these ones, but we are working on them.

Nugget (second picture is very indicative, she is by far the loud one)


Banana


Marilyn


Bonus group shot


I took them outside a couple times this week, the weather has been outstanding. Ms. Bawkbagawk did not seem very impressed at all. She was definitely interested, as she kept circling the makeshift pen I built for them, but she kept walking away and making a very stressed out sound. We're going to take them out as often as we can before it's time to move them out so she hopefully gets used to them, I would like to keep the merging of them all as peaceful as possible! The coop we have outside is equipped to keep them separated, so even when they move we can keep them apart while they get used to seeing each other 24/7.

the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


Welp.. Our neighbors called the landlord and complained that the chickens were out roaming free. Even after explaining to her that they weren't leaving the yard, she insisted that they have to stay in the coop. I don't disagree that 60ish square feet is plenty of room for them to sleep in, but I just don't see the benefit of even having them if they can't go out and forage. I already gave the chicks away to a wonderful old woman who brought us some eggs for the trouble of raising them up and having to just give them away. I've had a few responses for the hen, but the guy who I initially arranged with flaked on me tonight. Anyway, what a bummer. I've wasted a couple hundred bucks on this venture, not to mention all my time. The phone call came a few hours after I spent most of my Saturday putting up a wall to keep them in the back.

I can't wait to buy my own house, I'm going to be the worst neighbor I can be within the confines of the law. Enjoy your chickens, yall.

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the good fax machine
Feb 25, 2007

like some kind of
weird sex pervert


Ceridwen posted:

This is the kind of thing that makes me glad our landlord is a friend of ours and also one of the most laid-back human beings on the planet. Also, he knows the lady behind us is a nutter and doesn't mind telling her off if need be.

That sucks about your chicks marauderthirty. People who complain about poo poo that isn't even causing them any issues suck.

My landlord is actually a friend of mine as well, believe it or not. Not a good friend, but she's one of my best friend's fiance's mother. I know that's a lot of association, but I have rented this same exact house with her before with no issues so I'm having a hard time understanding why she doesn't trust me all of a sudden. She was talking as if I were going to destroy her house like the people who skipped out on her before I first moved in, which was pretty appalling considering I have paid her on time for a total of 28 months now and have yet to destroy any property. Oh well, our decision on whether or not to stay when the lease is up just got a lot easier.

What's strange is that this is a woman that is currently in pursuit of some kind of veterinary degree. While I don't disagree that they will probably be just fine locked up in the coop all the time, it just doesn't seem right to me when there is a fenced yard that they have yet to even attempt to leave. It's only chain link fence, maybe 3 or 4 feet high, but the hen hasn't left even when we have left the gate open. Of course we anticipated that the younger ones would probably eventually give it a shot, but we don't let them out when we aren't home anyway and we were prepared to clip wings as necessary. Oh well. At least we won't be stepping in random chicken poo poo anymore.

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