Note from Julie: a big Thanks to Dan for this post. I have neglected my blog this month due to back-to-school crazy days in my store… sheep? What sheep? Come September regular updates should resume!
Well I am now officially a chicken farmer. Ain’t it great? In this article I will share some lessons learned during my first month.
#1: Scratch and Scraps are addictive. To the chickens and to us too. No, we don’t eat it, it’s addictive to us to watch them go crazy over it, especially tomatoes. It seems no matter what is in the scraps they always go for the tomatoes first. No, I take that back. We had 3 cups of left over home made creamed corn and it was gone in seconds. I love to throw small tomatoes in the pen, just a couple and then watch them pick them up and run away from the other chickens. When they drop the tomato another chicken will pick it up and then run away from the others. This continues till the tomato is gone.
#2: Roosters are Very Protective. We were told our Rooster was overly protective and I found that out when it took a flying leap at my leg. It hurt real good. When I turned my back I saw him make another run at me and I give him a little boot to the other side of the pen. He hasn’t bothered me since. In fact he gives me a wide berth.
#3: Don’t leave the coop light on all night. Well it was an accident. Chickens don’t like to lay eggs the next day if you disturb their day/night rhythm.
#4: Chickens don’t listen at all. We have six hens and were consistently getting only five eggs and some days only 4. No matter how many times I told the ladies that they weren’t earning their keep I wouldn’t get any more. It seemed to go in one ear and out the other. Like there was nothing inside to stop the thought. Now I know in the heat of summer that laying eggs tends to decline but these are all young chicks. FINALLY, they gave me six eggs the past two days.
#5: Use a basket when collecting eggs and only do it once a day. The first 3 days I wore myself out checking for eggs every hour or so. It didn’t help that Beth was calling every hour to see if we had any eggs yet. The basket is important because dropped eggs tend to break and make a mess. I know this from personal experience after dropping 3-4 of them over the past two weeks.
#6: Find someplace to get rid of excess eggs. Right now we have 4 dozens eggs in the refrigerator. And they don’t stop coming. Our neighbors still have eggs we have given them.
#7: Nesting boxes? Forget it. My ladies lay their eggs underneath the boxes and they all use the same corner. Inside the nesting boxes it is much darker than underneath but they are too darn lazy to hop up there.
#8: Our dog is very protective of the hens. We had two birds of prey land in one of our trees. We couldn’t tell what they were because the sun was behind them and you couldn’t see them very well. After landing on separate branches and then hopping around to other branches they finally joined up on one branch and stared for 15 minutes at the coop. It’s like they were casing the joint and then got together to discuss what they found out. The excitement on the ground was a site to see. The rooster started making a weird noise and all the hens scooted under the shed. The rooster then stood out in the open all puffed up and kept spreading his wings. Billie Jean noticed the birds before anyone and started growling at the birds and continued to growl till they left.
Well that’s all for now.
Dan Shaw, future chicken farmer and entrepreneur. http://www.diyyardandhome.com