Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Helping a slow growing chick

Holly, the gold sex-link chick I bought from IFA, seemed to be doing OK, but wasn't growing.  Here's what I did (after consulting the wisdom of backyardchickens.com).

  1. fed her mash three times a day.  I made the mash by mixing warm water with her starter feed.  I just put it in a lid from a peanut butter jar in the brooder for all the chicks to enjoy.  She really liked this.
  2. Fed her a hard boiled egg every other day.  Instead of mash for breakfast, I fed her (and the other chicks) a freshly boiled, mashed hard boiled egg.  I mash the egg with a fork.  I only leave it in the brooder for about half an hour then throw away what they don't eat.  I do it every other day since I had read that feeding chicks too much hard boiled egg can cause diarrhea or constipation.  I had also read that chicks shouldn't be fed hard boiled eggs that had been refrigerated since bacteria can grow. It isn't enough to harm humans, but it can harm chicks. (Don't know if this is true, but I didn't want to take chances.)
  3. Bought a back up chick.  Since the sex-link was the only one I knew for sure was a hen, I went back to IFA and bought a back up golden sex-link chick in case she didn't make it.  I think the other chick helped because she shook up the pecking order (the silkie had been picking on Holly) and she was brown too.  All the other chicks were black and I think it made the golden sex-link stand out.
  4. Bought a food scale from Wal-mart to weigh her.  It was reassuring to be able to tell that she was getting heavier.
  5. Prayed.  This definitely helped me keep a good perspective.
Right now Holly is growing.  She is almost as big as the bantams now. (She was much smaller.)  She is about 2/3 the size of the other sex-link. I'm hoping she grows up to lay many delicious eggs.

Updated (6/5/14): I switched over to fermented feed, which is about the same as mash in my mind.  Holly is only slightly smaller than the other sex-link.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Chicken Breeds

I had a series of posts about what kind of chickens to get.  Here's what I ended up with:

  • Gold Sex Link (2)- I bought a back up one since my original one didn't seem to be growing
  • barred rock - this chick is a character and huge.  Coloring says hen, but attitude says roo, so I'll have to wait and see.
  • silkie - black and fluffy.  a little bit of a bully
  • cochin - black and fluffy.  This one was supposed to be a silkie, but the nice lady at IFA knew nothing about chickens
There's a chance the barred rock and at least one of the bantams will be a rooster, so that will take me down to a manageable number of chickens.  I don't think I'll be able to keep all five.   If I did it over again, I might have just gotten all sex links, I'm having trouble with the "is it going to be a roo" stress.

If you build it, they will come

I've been building my chicken coop.  I started the last week in February and am almost done now, mid April.  I built the Purina chicken coop plan.  I modified it a to be a little smaller 3x4 since that's what my husband was ok with.  

I'm torn at this point if I wish I hadn't made the coop smaller.  I'm not very strong, so I'm not sure I would have been able to handle building the slightly larger coop.  On the other hand, I ended up with 5 chickens, so at least one of them will have to go.  

I strongly recommend having a miter saw and jig saw for building the coop.  It was a million times easier cutting the lumber with the miter saw than trying to use a circular saw and straight edge.

One thing that worked well for me was to attach the legs to the floor, we set the floor on a bench we had then attached the legs.  We were able to get the legs all at the same height that way.

The other thing I learned is that this coop cost a lot more than planned.  It wasn't the wood either.  The screws, nails, hinges, and locks really add up fast.  I ended up using two boxes of roofing nails and three and a half boxes of deck screws.  Plan on it costing about double what you think it should.