Friday, 28 February 2014

Chick Magnet

Since getting back from Canada around a month ago, I've been hard at work to finalize arrangements for adopting a few new chooks for our backyard. I had pretty much finished constructing their coop, but needed a few little extras, like a feeder and waterer, something to put down on floor of their coop, and decided I wanted to fence the whole area in where I wanted them to spend most of their time. That was in hindsight one of the best decisions I could have made, becuase as I have found out, the girls can make a nice tidy backyard look like a bomb had gone off. They particularly seemed to enjoy digging up the earth around my fruit trees and flinging it as far onto our paved walkway as possible. After that little excursion they now spend most of their time in their fenced in enclosure. But they seem to like it in there, I have a little watering hole for them in the hot days they like to wade in, lots of shade and areas to dust bath themselves. They get scraps from leftover fruit and veggies, and even the new crop of silver beet and rainbow chard are producing enough that I can pick off leaves and put in their yard. 

The breed I got are called ISA Browns, and for the life of me I still can't tell them apart. I was originally planning on getting some form of bantam breed as my recycled dog house chicken coop wasn't terribly tall, but the lady who I bought them off highly recommended these over the bantam breed she had, so we decided to go with the taller more productive birds and rejig the coop to accommodate them. That entailed a weekend or so of taking the whole roof off the coop, adding about a foot extra height and reassembling the whole thing. Dave was very helpful with this, especially after I dropped a board on my toe and had to retire early from injury. Then we decided the roosting pole I had in the coop might be a little small for the new larger birds feet, so took that apart and got a thicker wooden round roosting bar and put that up for them. The latest in terms of coop modification has been to change the feeder I use, as at the moment the hanging feeder allows the chickens to throw a lot of their chook pellets out of the feeder and onto the ground, once there they refuse to eat it. After deciding not to spend upwards of $200 on a commercial 'no spill chook feeder' I set about looking for DIY options. I found plans for a cheap (cost me under $10 in materials) plumbing pipe feeder that claims to be spill free as the chooks have to put their head slightly in the pipe to get at the food and therefore can't throw the food around while pecking. I just finished it off today and removed the old feeder, so we'll see what the chooks think of this new improved one around dinner time. If you're keen to try and make one, the link to it can be found here.

In terms of egg  production the girls have been fantastic. We have gotten three eggs a day everyday for around the last two weeks, which has prompted me to try and use them in my cooking as much as possible. Even my egg allergy has started dissipating which is very exciting, and I hope it goes away all together soon with all this egg desensitization going on. Even our lovely neighbour Linda popped over to ask if we had gotten chickens and said she loved hearing them in the morning clucking around. I gave her six eggs to ensure our healthy neighbourly relations remain intact. Here are some pictures so far of the chookins doing their thing. Hope you enjoy!

Full of eggy goodness :)

Chickens pecking at the muddy pond I set up for them to get through the hot weather

Full view of enclosure. Top screening put on after as one of the chooks loves flying over the lower fence

The three triplets

She was ready for her closeup

New DIY chicken feeder installed and ready for chooks!

Eggs I collected earlier today from their nesting boxes