After putting up the coop, we needed a run for the chickens and ducks to stretch their legs in. We wanted to enclose the area the length of the greenhouse, and incidentally this meant we wouldn’t need to fence that side. Yep, we’re lazy farmers.
We built the run and then covered it with bird netting, as chickens fly quite well, contrary to popular belief. The run is necessary in our area, as free-range chickens quickly fall prey to our numerous predators. Ours will need to be moved on occasion to keep them from turning their run area into a desert.
I was able to count the chickens today for the first time in quite a while. We have only 5 out of the original 12 Gold Pencilled Hamburgs. One is a handsome young rooster. The Goldies are very flighty and nervous birds. None of them have started to lay yet. If they are good layers we may breed for more, but so far I would not repeat them. We have 6 out of 13 Cuckoo Marans. One is a rooster. They are much more sedate, and we have one pullet egg that they laid a few days ago. Hopefully that means more soon! Dad wants to increase our flock of these guys, as they are a dual purpose chicken, good for both meat and eggs. The remainder of our flock is two Aracauna hens, a Buff Orpinton Hen, and two random hens that I’m fairly sure are not laying because they are too old. I will isolate them each for a week to determine and thin from the flock if they aren’t. We also have Theodore the fancy feathers rooster and a young black rooster that was the random chick Murray McMurray threw in with the order from them.
Once we had the coop up we moved the young chickens that had been in the brooder outside. We are keeping them separate from the adult chickens to keep them from being picked on. There are 34 of them at the moment – 30 hens and 4 roosters. If Mom doesn’t get over here in a couple months, I will have eggs coming out my ears.
We use a five gallon bucket for a feeder, and someone asked me for a picture of it. Dad made it by cutting a slit in the bucket with a saw about two inches up from the bottom. Then he heated the bucket with our little propane torch untilt he plastic was malleable. Before it cooled, he shoved a two by four into the slit, forcing the upper lip inward and the lower slightly outward. The result is a feeder they can’t scratch out of, which we can fill full of pellets and it lasts for days. Mash doesn’t work well in it, it tends to get stuck, so for the young chicks we’re using a different feeder. We feed all unmedicated here on the farm. Ideally, we’d feed the chickens very little, but for layers having a high protein feed available is a good thing. We just can’t let them free-range for now. Maybe after we get a dog…