Thursday, June 5, 2014

Chicken tips

  1. Chicken math is real.  I made my coop small because I only wanted 3 hens.  I also wanted to reduce the footprint in our yard, so my husband wouldn't think the chickens were taking up too much room.  I ended up with 5 chickens.  If they all turn out to be hens, I'll have to rehome some.  
  2. Build more room than you need in your run and coop.  (See #1)
  3. Horizontal nipple waterers are the way to go.  They don't leak.  They help keep the water nice and clean.
  4. When building your coop, aviation snips and a miter saw come in very handy.
  5. Place "rungs" on a ramp about 4" apart, especially if you have young bantams.
  6. more to come...

horizontal chicken nipples - best thing so far

When I went to IFA to get my "replacement" chick (she was to replace a chick that didn't die), I also picked up a chick water with a horizontal nipple.  It was $8, which I thought was a little steep, but I was sick of the chicks throwing their bedding and poop in the regular chick waterer.  This one was completely enclosed, so no bedding, no problems.

The nipple works by the chicken pushing aside the metal button and water drips out into a little catcher.  I had seen the vertical nipples, but I didn't want to have to hang the wateter.

The waterer said to wait until the chicks were 8 days old, so I did.  Then I put it in.  The chicks would have nothing to do with it.  I was worried they would die of dehydration (don't know if this was a valid concern or not), so in the morning and at night, I would put their old waterer back in so they could get a short drink.  Finally, I took one of the chicks, pushed the button and dipped its beak in the water.  After that, they seemed to catch on.  (I also stopped giving them their old waterer. )  I was super happy because now I didn't have to worry about them tipping the waterer over while I was gone and the water stayed nice and clean.

Once my chicks moved out to the coop, I wanted a bigger version of the waterer.   IFA had one, but it was $24.  Ouch.  Instead, I bought five of the nipples on ebay for $12, got a used 3 gallon icing bucket from a bakery ($1), and my husband drilled a few 3/8"  holes.  Now I have a big waterer for their run.  Tomorrow, in it goes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Out to the coop

After a week or so of taking the chicks out to visit the run, it was time for them move out of the garage.  (Yay.)  I moved them out at about six weeks old.  I don't have electricity out there, so I didn't want them to get too cold at night.  The first day, I let them be in the coop and in the run because it was supposed to be very hot.  The next two days were cooler, so I locked them in the coop to get them used to the idea that the coop was where they slept, not the run.

I let them out again, but there was just one problem: the ramp.  I have a fairly steep ramp running up to the coop and the chicks would have nothing to do with it.  My dad tried showing them their food dish, but they had no interest.  I got some of their food and sprinkled it on the "rungs" of the ramp.  They ate the lower stuff, but didn't really get the idea.  The next day, I put scratch on each of the rungs.  The first chicken ate the scratch and eventually figured out she could get up into the coop.  I also added a few new steps so that the rungs are now 4" apart instead of 6".  Now all the chicks, including the bantams can make it up into the coop.