The learning curve

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Being new to raising chickens, we’ve learned a lot in trial and error. For those of you who haven’t started your own flock yet I thought I’d share some of what we learned along the way.

Starting with the coop all I can say is that it helps that my husband is an avid carpenter. Some people buy a prefab type coop, which is what we did. Some start from scratch with their own materials. Either way it’s inevitable that in the end you’ll have to make some modifications. For us it was moving some doors around on the run area to make it more accessable. We also had to reinforce some areas with more chicken wire as something is digging around the run area at night (armadillo?).

One of the girls was showing some blood in her stool so I did some research and found it was likely to be coccidia. Coccidia live in the ground all the time and the young and sick are succeptable to it. I ordered Sumlet online (probably could have gotten it at the feed store) added it to their water and within a day things were fine.

My husband made an automatic feeder from old gutters, it turned out great! He still needs to put up some kind of roof over the run to keep the food dry but the girls took to it right away. Food for 4 pullets has lasted 4 days now. We will install automatic watering system eventually but for now we purchased some chicken nipples, yes folks that is what they’re called, and used a 2 liter bottle inverted with the nipple in the lid part. It works amazingly! FYI, you must poke a vent hole in the bottom (once installed it’s actually the top) of the bottle or else no water will come out. The learning curve, remember! The one problem I have with a complete watering system, one hooked up to our spicket, is that I won’t be able to medicate them through their water. I think with 4 hens we can probably use two 2 liter bottles and it will be plenty of water for several days.

Getting them used to their coop didn’t take long. We started by just putting them in the run area on sunny days and opening the coop door. They ignored the coop and the ramp and just scratched around all day. Then we moved on to putting them in the coop first and opening the door. They’d run and fly as fast as they could out the door and down the ramp. Eventually they explored the ramp and within 2 days they were using the coop. Phew!

The girls will be 5 weeks in two more days. The weather is easy now and as long as another cold front doesn’t come through they should be in the coop full-time tonight or tomorrow.

On the stealth end, so far no one even knows they exist. So much for smelly, loud birds annoying the neighbors and fowling up the city. On the other hand the barking dog tied up in the neighbor’s back yard is driving me crazy!

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