Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Eleven / One Month Chicken Update

Well folks, I have been a chicken tender for 11 months now.  The big girls are doing well.  The biggest news is, of course, that Esther finally laid an egg, at 10 and a half months of age.  It's not a world record, but she was definitely above average on point of lay.  In case you missed it, Esther lays green.

Rocky, Toasty, Esther
 Remember how I mused that perhaps Esther would have more confidence when she started laying?  Well, she does.  Esther's still at the bottom of the pecking order, but the others are less vicious in their pecking, and aren't excluding her as much anymore.

I am still buying eggs at the grocery store, but much less frequently.  Esther is laying consistently 2 days on, then one day off.  Rocky is laying around 6 eggs a week, and Toasty Crunch is currently on a 19 day (and counting) egg-laying streak.  She's a beast.  So we're getting about 17-18 eggs a week, which is enough for our family, if none of us goes on an egg-eating streak.

We did a little bit of redecorating in the chicken run.

 We added the xylophone that my friend Bert sent for the girls.  They haven't really gotten the hang of playing it yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

 We also mounted the grit and oyster shell dispensers.  The girls are loving the oyster shells.

Finally, we mounted this sign.  It makes me happy to see it mounted over the chicken pop door.

The run has been sponge-like this spring.  Or, it was sponge-like before the temperature decided to stay below freezing and it snowed again.  I have confidence that it will be sponge-like again.  We definitely need to figure out a way to divert melting snow around the run, instead of through it, for next year.  Of course, next year we won't get this much snow, and it won't be nearly as cold, so we won't have to worry about it.

The little girls are also doing well.  They're one month old, and getting so big, especially Hazel.  One of the reasons I got this group so early in the season (March) compared to the first group (May), was because of Esther being so late to lay.  I think she was ready much earlier, but because the amount of daylight had decreased by the time she was ready, she ended up waiting for more daylight.  I wanted this group of chicks to be laying well before lack of light would be an issue.

The problem with getting the chicks so early is that this has been a long winter, and it's been colder longer than expected.  I'm not sure when it will warm up enough for the chicks to go outside full time.  But they can't stay inside indefinitely because they keep growing.  Hazel can almost reach the screen on top of the brooder just by stretching out her neck.  By the time our first set of chicks were a month old, they had been outside at least a dozen times, and they moved into the coop full time when they were six weeks old.  That's not going to happen with this group, but I am hoping to have them outside by the end of May--they'll be 10 or 11 weeks old by then.

I did manage to get the little girls outside a week ago, but since then it's been cold or snowy or both.  We're in for some warmer weather this week, but with quite a bit of precipitation.  Hopefully there will be some warmer, sunny hours for chick field trips.  I hear we're supposed to get another 5-8 inches of snow on the weekend.

 Indigo and Hazel decided to use Bubby as a roost.  He tried to get them to go on that stick he's holding, but they were having none of it.

Indigo, Hazel, Koko
They were not sure what to make of the outside

 I did some redecorating in the brooder as well.  I took out the heating pad, and enlarged and moved the dust bath, which the girls then proceeded to be afraid of until very recently.  I also added a roost, which the girls have steadfastly ignored.  I took out the regular waterer, leaving only the nipple waterer in place, and I attached the waterer to the side of the brooder to keep it from tipping.  I also raised the food to help prevent wood shavings from getting in the food.

They still hang out in this corner most of the time.  It's funny how much they spread out when they lie down--Hazel is almost circular when she's lying down. 

Here are some updated pics--these were taken one month apart.  As you can see, all three have some comb development and they're mostly fully feathered.  Hazel is the farthest along, of course, but Koko isn't too far behind.




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