Sunday, April 9, 2017

The backyard chicken experiment gets underway

We were supposed to get our chickens last weekend, but it didn’t work out. Why? The coop we bought was missing some pieces, so we had to take it back and get another one. On Friday, then, we completed our coop and picked up our hens on Saturday.

So, this is officially Day 2 of the backyard chicken experiment, and our four hens – Heihei (named for a stupid chicken in Moana),  Li’l Peep, Chickadee and Paul (my daughter named her – not sure why) – are settling in nicely. Instead of raising chicks, we got four cinnamon queen hens from a friend of ours who said we could have them for free.

Why did we choose the cinnamon queen? The fellow who gave us our hens and knows about such things said they tolerate this hot Arkansas weather very well, are friendly and lay a bunch of eggs. So far, we have gotten only one broken egg our of our hens, but we were told not to expect anything for two or three days as the chickens adjust to the move.

The fascinating thing here is that we got these critters for eggs, but we are having a lot of fun with them. My wife and I have discovered our dogs don’t really bother the hens (see the photo above of Bella the Dog following Heihei as evidence), so we let them roam and forage as often as we can. We spent 1.5 hours this evening, in fact, just watching them forage and it was very peaceful. When the chickens were done foraging, they simply went back into the coop and headed for either a perch or nesting boxes. Convenient, no?

We’ll see about egg production soon enough, but we are making sure they are fed at least once a day (we’ll up that to twice a day when winter hits and foraging is no longer effective) with a feed that has ground oyster shells in it as we have been told that eggs with hard shells will result.

Meanwhile, those critters are just fun to watch. I’ve never owned chickens or spent much time with them, but having them around has been great so far.

Now, here's an extra special bonus -- if you want some dandy tips on how to keep your chickens safe and their environment in good shape, click here to visit the friendly folks at Treats for Chickens. You'll be glad you did.

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