Sunday, February 13, 2011

Baby Chickens

I put in an order for baby chickens today from Murry McMurray hatchery.  I've used them before and the chicks always arrive alive and grow up healthy.  This year I decided to order a variety of chickens.  I really spent time looking through the catalogue and chose many that they said were good setters.  I'd sure like to have them hatch out their own eggs. 

I've always had a rooster or two, right now I have a little banty who rules the roost and I have an Araucana cock also.  Murry McMurray always throws in an extra chick or two and it's always a cockerel so I'll have a couple more. 

I wanted a mix of pullets because it's fun to have the variety.  I ordered araucanas, red stars, black stars, delawares, black minorcas, blue andalusians, anconas, silver polish, buff minorcas, buff orpingtons, and rhode island reds.   I could have ordered one of their package deals which will include at least five different breeds.  I've done that before and been pleased as well.  But since I wanted to make sure I got several different breeds that were setters I wanted to chose them myself.  Ok, some of these aren't great setters but look interesting and will lay.  McMurry makes you order 25 minimum to insure their safe arrival.  I don't want that many but renters at the bug-out place want a few more so I'm splitting my order and will give them four or five.

They will be arriving on either Sunday March 13th or Monday March 14th.  I'll let the post office know in advance.  Hopefully they'll call me on Sunday and I can go pick them up at that time.  Otherwise, bright and early Monday morning I'll be there to get them.

I have an old converted rabbit hutch that I've used in the past.  We've kept it outside under the patio cover and right outside the kitchen window.  The kids eat their breakfast and watch the chicks.  I keep the heat lamp on and in really cold weather keep it covered up with a wool blanket. 

This year I'm thinking about doing it differently.  We have a stock tank that leaks so instead of fixing it, I'm thinking about using it for the chicks.  It's almost four feet long and almost a foot and a half tall.  I can bring it into the laundry room and raise them in there.  The only problem I'd have with that would be the cats.  I'd have to put a cover on it to keep the cats off or I'll have bought them one very expensive dinner.  The feed store down the road puts their chicks into a stock tank and it seems to work well.  There are no corners so there's no place for the chicks to crush each other.  There will also be plenty of room to roam once they do get a little bigger. 

I have a sack of chipped pine bedding that I can use in the tank.  I'll throw it into the compost when the chicks go into the coop.  I have a month to figure out which way I'm going to go with them.  I also need to figure out what I'm doing with the 16 hens we now have.  The youngest is three years old, the oldest, five or six.  None of them are in their prime for laying anymore.  Do I want to sell them, let them roam the yard (no feed bill then), or butcher them for stewing hens?  I won't get rid of them until the new ones start laying, then the old ones are out of the coop!


  1. It's always hard to decide what to do with the old hens...usually they've become old friends. I always have them butchered. If I keep them to free-range they eat valuable protein my new hens could utilize and I've found the new hens will beat up on them after awhile...or the roosters will chase them off and make their lives they go in the pot.

    I lucked out with my hens, they alternate their broodness and I've been able to hatch out their replacements...and I also have an incubator I built...another big help. I like having plenty of eggs and meat, just in case. My 8 year old granddaughter has a booth at the Farmers Market where she sells eggs, pumpkins, watermelons and flowers...she always sells out of eggs.

  2. I like the stock tank idea. My wife used cardboard boxes in the past. I'm curious if you have any problem with wild birds. Even in the town we cover the top of the pen. Used to have an owl in the neighborhood.