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Chicken update: one month in

Posted by on Tuesday 3 August 2010 in chickens | 5 comments

Apologies for the radio silence for the last few days – a combination of illness, internet downtime and a visit from my mum & dad. Because of the first and the third things, I’ve not been up to much – just pottering and keeping the garden/animals watered. I did though start a crochet blanket (using Attic24’s granny stripe pattern) with the wool I dyed at the start of June – it’s working up really fast and looking great!

Anyway, I intended to do a quick chicken update last week so I suppose I should get it ;)

The chickens have been with us for over a month now and are very well settled in. We still haven’t named them but we have ringed their legs so we can tell them apart and the colours have become defacto names. The Greens – Lime & Dark – are the more confident of the four, Blue is quite friendly but always squats when we go near her (said to be a submissive or scaredy thing) and Ms Mauve is the biggest but shyest one.

Production-wise, they’ve produced about 3.5 eggs a day on average – for a week or so, it was just 3 then it moved up to 4 every day and now it fluctuates between 3 and 4 every day. One day last week, they only produced 3 but one of them was the biggest chicken egg I’ve ever seen so we think that two of them got together to work on that one ;) (Since then, there has been one egg consistently bigger than the others – which are medium/large, this one isn’t as big as the one last week but as you can see, it’s sizeable!)

They finished their first bag of food yesterday – 20kg lasted the four of them just under 5 weeks. We’ve probably only used about a third of the bag of corn, which we use for treats, and about the same of poultry spice. We’ve hardly used any of the grit. As a rough estimation, I think it’s cost us about 10 or 11p per egg in those consumables. I can’t wait until we can stretch out the layers pellets with decent amount of “free” or actually free food – they’ve had treats from the garden (like the borage they’re eating in these pictures) or the kitchen most days but they’ve been treats, not serving enough to reduce their layers pellets consumption. Twice I bought super cheap reduced to clear items for them from Netto – two huge heads of broccoli for 25p and this weekend, a very heavy watermelon for 30p – but even though those things made me very popular in Fort Chicken, I’d rather they were getting free cabbages from the garden instead. I’ve got a plan to dry nettles for the winter for them too so hopefully they’ll get plenty of greens then.

They’ve not been too bad in terms of workload but I won’t deny it – getting up to let them out in the morning is a bit of a chore, especially at the weekend. I’ve done the run a couple of times in my dressing gown, then snuck back into bed for a couple more hours snooze. An automated door opener has drawbacks in terms of safety and expense but I think it would make our mornings a little more relaxed again.

As for other tasks, I like having a decent sized drinker and feeder – I only have to fill them up every 1.5 to 2 days – and cleaning the coop has been easier than I thought it would be. I have a cat litter scoop and bucket next to the coop at all times for poop clearance as-and-when, then once a week, I give it a full clean out – I line the floor with newspaper so I just have to roll that – with all the shavings & poop on it – up into a long sausage then drop the whole thing into the compost heap. The rest of the coop is pretty easy to clean once the bulk of it is out of the way.

One thing we hadn’t budgeted for – in terms of a chore rather than expense really – is how quickly the wood chips have been … rearranged. The run is on a “reclaimed” bit of land – a hill levelled up – which is covered in wood chips. A combination of their scratching and the in-fill settling has made the chip level drop considerably so we’re going to have to fill that back up again. John’s dad should be bringing us a trailer load this week – the chickens will enjoy scratching through that for bugs and seeds but I hope it doesn’t keep dropping at this rate because getting a trailer load of chipping down there each month would be an uber-pain.

All in all though, we’re very much enjoying them and are glad we finally got them. We’re still thinking of getting a few more – probably point of lay-ish aged ones of a different breed in a month or so – and it’ll be interesting to see the difference between them and these girls.

Bonus video: they like my camera!


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  1. Mark

    I’m loving the chicken soap! The addition of a YouTube video (henceforth known as “ChickTube” is a great idea! Is there a 3D version coming out soon? Buk!

  2. louisa

    Hehe,I’m surprised by how much fun they are – I should make more videos and script soap-worthy voiceovers. ;)

  3. Maria

    I have belatedly found this video on your blog. I loved it -made me laugh – but it also made me wince as they were pecking away at your camera! I hope it survives unscathed…

  4. cat

    love the idea about laying the newspaper down first. i’ll try it this weekend

    • louisa

      I go back and forth with the newspaper – in the winter, the paper got so damp that it fell apart and made the cleaning job harder than just scooping out the shavings with a shovel — but when they’re not in there as much in the spring/summer, it does make things easier.

      I’ve also started using it as a liner in the nest boxes under straw – because my nest boxes are awkward to get “straw dust” out of them. The chickens often scratch through the paper in their excitement but it generally makes it a bit easier. When I had the red mite infestation a few weeks ago though, there were a lot of red mites hiding under the paper…

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