Holy wordpress Batman! Cheese Acres Farm has had a blog for a year now. It’s our blogiversary! When I first started the blog I think a Farmer Cheese thought I was crazy in the head. He may still think so, but I think it’s been a great year. I’ve learned a lot from fellow bloggers, and I learned about myself too. Most of all I’ve enjoyed sharing our lives, chickens, and family with all of you. As we start our second year of blogging I’m praying for an awesome one full of new and old friendships, lots of exciting experiences and adventures and of course tons of fun! Thanks for following us on our journey.
Now that the hoop house is finished, it is time to introduce the little and middles to their new home! They have been in a temporary little dog house converted into a coop. This makes a great first outside coop. Both coops are enclosed in fence to keep them safe.
We had hoped to have their bigger home ready before now, but things usually take longer than we think for one reason or another!
Night one: It is nearing dark so we begin taking the girls one by one into the new coop. We sit them on the perches, talk sweetly and try to get them to stay. Some do, some try to leave immediately. One acts like she is trying to break out of jail! We continue taking them one at a time in and they keep running out, lol! We decide one of us should stay in there with them and one get the others so we can keep the running out to a minimum. We get about half of them in. The other half have cooped up in the old coop and are not happy when I move them so we call it a night.
Night two: Earlier I closed the fence door to the old coop so they can’t head into it. At dusk an entire flock of chickens is poking their heads through the fence and whining. We take a few of them in one at a time and sit them on the new perches. They are not real happy to begin with. We continue this process until at they are all are in the new coop. Three or four are still fussing and act like they aren’t sure about this place. Jailbird is still trying to break free. But they settle down finally and all is well.
Night three: Fence is closed to old coop again so as dusk approaches over half head to the new coop by themselves and jump up on the perches. We stand quietly in the background and watch. Slowly more and more head in and out, in and out until all are in except two! Make that one. Only one is left, all alone perching outside the old fence. So sad. I scoop her up and hold her. I think this is Jailbird. She is beginning to panic a little. Finally I take her in the coop, kneel down with her on my shoulder and she steps off onto the roost. Success! At last. All are in and settled for the night. Maybe she will go by herself tomorrow.
Night 4: It is just barely dark. All the girls are in the coop quiet as can be. Everyone is perched. We have passed this course of coop training. All is well in our chicken world.
I thought that title would grab your attention, but since this is a farm blog primarily, hopefully you knew what I meant. 😉
We have a new problem with little ones this spring. This has never happened before. They are pecking each other’s tail feathers. One was pecked so badly her whole little fluffy butt was red, bloody and featherless! All that damage happened in one day. It seemed to start suddenly and we couldn’t determine who was doing it. It seemed like everyone was pecking everyone. Why? We had no clue. So the research began. I started with Lisa at http://www.fresheggsdaily.com and asked her opinion. Boredom or protein deficiency was a possible answer. I also began a thorough internet research and found out that those very two reasons are mentioned many times. Maybe we are onto something. I added in some black oil sunflower seeds. They had a few small sticks for perching. Farmer Cheese got on the ball building bigger perches.
I also gave them a turnip root to peck on. This seemed to be helping, but we had also separated the 4 who were injured. Overcrowding was also mentioned several times as a reason for tail pecking. Overcrowding? But our brooder says it will hold 24 chicks up until 4 weeks. After that we separate into 2 grow off pens. Well, these little rascals are growing so fast I really believe that was the problem. After a week when their tail feathers were looking better we added a few more in with them. We now have 9 in one and 10 in the other grow out pen and no little peckers! Our smallest chicks that are almost 3 weeks old had only 10 in the brooder to begin with. No signs of any pecking in there.
I do believe you should take the maximum amount of chicks your brooder will hold with a grain of salt. Each set of chicks will be a little different. If they start pecking each other, they are clearly telling you something. I’d take a serious look at space and go from there. Here’s to raising happy little non-peckers. 🙂
I sometimes hear people say that this or that hen or rooster is not friendly and may peck at you so don’t get to close to it. I can tell you that my grandson has been around our chickens almost from the minute he was born. They are all friendly, yes some more than others, but I have never feared that one would hurt him. Sure, they peck and scratch me accidentally from time to time. And in the spring and summer they are attracted to my freckles and toenail polish, but for the most part they are all pretty gentle. We have some that really don’t like being held much and some that do. I guess you could say they are like people, each has their own temperament and personality. The key to having loving,friendly chickens is being loving, friendly people! We talk to our chickies from the moment we pick them out at the store or from the moment they hatch. They get used to the sound of our voices. As day or two olds we generally don’t pick them up except to make sure we clean dirty bottoms(pasty butt) and to make sure we dip their beaks to make sure all are drinking. It is enough trauma just being born and/or moved to a new home!
What we do is very simple. We place our hands in and let them peck around on them, climb up on, perch on fingers etc. They will crawl up into our hands and after a day or two we will pick them up,usually a couple at the time so it’s not as frightening, and talk to them and stroke their feathers. We will also place food in the palm of our hands and the will peck all over them! They associate us literally as the hand that feeds them. 🙂 They know as they grow up they are safe with us and we will not harm them. As they grow we continue to offer our hands to them along with treats of meal worms and various other fruits and veggies which they love. Beware though, as they get bigger those little beaks can really peck when they are after food!