Saturday, April 9, 2011

Moving day for (some of the) chicks

The chicks were getting WAY too big for the stock tank (and the house was getting WAY too stinky with this many chicks indoors).

Although their sleeping habits -- piling on top each other -- were pretty funny to watch.

Nonetheless, they were seriously overcrowded. The weather is moderating a bit, so we decided to take the bigger ones and put them in the chicken coop, where we have a cage within the coop.

But first I needed to give the coop a deep cleaning, something I do about twice a year. Time to get rid of the accumulated waste and put down some fresh straw.

Matilda stopped by. Our cows are obsessed with the chicken coop because they know all those delicious forbidden chicken crumbles are inside.

(Notice our high-tech cow barrier: an extension ladder laid sideways. Hey, whatever works. Chickens can get out but cows can't get in.)

After a couple hours of hard work, the coop was clean with a fresh layer of straw, with wood shavings in the little cage for the chicks.

Time to move the chicks. These are some of our Cornish Crosses, a meat bird. They'll be ready to butcher in two or three months.

Naturally there was lots of initial bafflement on the part of the chicks we transferred to the coop, but they soon settled in.

We have eleven chicks left in the house. They're the smallest and least feathered-out so they'll be here for another couple weeks. The stink in the house has been cut WAY back and their food and water gets less dirty. Phew!

Which doesn't mean they're not looking for ways to broaden their horizons!


  1. Uh Oh...The guy on top looks like a rooster,(I hope not)!
    --K in OK<><

  2. I dunno what you guys do in your house, but it sure has the attention of all the critters around there, they're always trying to spy on what's going on.....

    Thank goodness for duct tape, one more thing to add to the list of uses!

  3. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)April 10, 2011 at 5:45 AM

    Ugh! It IS that time of year to clean the coop -
    wonder if there is any treasure under a winter's worth of poopy layers of hay. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow .... maybe.....if the weather is nice...

  4. Patrice,
    Have my first chickies - 4 Australorps and 2 Rhode Island Reds. I've had them a week and they're growing like weeds. They're getting feathers, particularly noticeable on their little wings. Right now they're in a wading pool filled with shavings in the kitchen. How do you know when to put them out in their coop? It's warmer here in Virginia than in Idaho.
    Thanks - I love your blog.

  5. Kay, I'd wait another week (two at the most) before putting them out in their coop. That way their feathers will be fuller and they'll stay warmer. Depending on your temperatures, you might be able to get away with a 100-watt lightbulb for warmth (dangling low so they can feel the heat, but not so low they bang into it). We use a 250-watt heat lamp which, as you can imagine, is a lot more necessary during April in north Idaho (smile).

    I don't know if you've seen this post on Chicken Basics but you might find some useful info in it. (

    - Patrice

  6. I grew up on a chicken farm and the semi-annual cleaning of the coops still is a vivid memory. As a kid my perception was that stinking stuff was knee deep. I remember my nose running form the ammonia. Dad would have us load it in a trailer and then he would pull us in it over the strawberry patch while we pushed it out. When we came in Mom sent us to the basement to be bathed in the laundry tubs. The first rain made it aromatic all over again!

  7. Ahhhh, chicken time.... I just lost one of my Barred Rocks (Riley) from some illness or old age or whatever laying hens die from. Riley was the one and only chick that always hopped up the highest in the chickie pen and cried out to be rescued so she would be picked up by me. Ah well, I am a sucker for chickies!!!! On a happier note, we are getting 8 new chicks in May (less 'stinky' time in the house) so we can get them outside in June. We had to opt for a few breeds that we didn't really want because of the timing but it should be fun all the same because we got 2 heavy breeds that we really wanted (Buff orpington and Black Jersey).
    Patrice, perhaps when you have time, I was hoping that you and/or Don could grace us with some "How To" first-hand knowledge of killing and dressing out your meat birds for the table. So far my chicks have only been laying hens but I have decided to branch out (no more cutsie chicken names for all 15 of them, etc.) and get some meat birds. Thanks a million! Love your posts!
    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  8. Thanks, Patrice. We have a small chicken coop plus I'm converting one of the stalls in our barn for a coop. I'm so excited about my chicks. It's the first time I've ever had chickens.

  9. butcher huh? I am a pet person. Each one has a name and we keep them until they die. See why I am not a farmer. :)

  10. Don't you love it when they get up really high to look out?! We're hatching out (crossing fingers) 172 this weekend...we'd better get a bunch sold fast 'cause they'll be crammed!