Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chick Update - 8th Week (Late)

Finally, another update.  This is actually the chick update for week 8.  It was back in September when the chicks I ordered reached eight weeks old.  In this update, I show both the expanded chicken coop and all the chicks in the coop.  The chicks took to the coop very well and very quickly.  They were not sure what to do at night, so I had to teach them to use the latter to get up to the hen house.  My Americana did not seem to happy when I started moving the chicks into the coop.  She was up in the hen house and began clucking in a way that I had not heard previously.  It was obvious she was reacting to the new chicks.  However, there were only a few pecks as the chicks learned very quickly to stay out of her way.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chick Update - 6th Week

Hello again.  It has been a few weeks since my last update, but there really has not been any new developments.  The new chicks basically look the same, except they are larger.  They continue to grow, and they will soon be transferred to the expanded chicken coop.  Call it coop 2.0 if you will.  It will be twice the size of the existing coop to give the chicks lots of room to move around.

I do have some bad news.  If you recall from prior posts, I lost two chickens to Marek's disease before they started producing eggs.  Then some time went by and my remaining two chickens started producing.  Well, back on Labor Day, my Barred Rock died.  She stopped producing about two weeks prior to that day, but she showed no distress or other symptoms until the day before she died when she became very lethargic.  Since that time my remaining chicken has been producing eggs regularly until this week. She seems healthy and activity, but she is not producing any eggs.  So, I am worried she is ill as well.  Hopefully, she will be okay.

Here's a short video about the coop expansion:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chick Update - 3rd Week

My chicks are now three weeks old, and they are doing well.  They continue to grow and make a huge mess in their brooder.  They dump their food everywhere.  I now have only five weeks to design and build a new coop to accommodate my existing two chickens and these ten chicks.  Eight weeks sounded like a enough time to get it done, but it is going by quickly.  Here's a short update on the chicks.  See you next week.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Egg Update

Here a quick update on my egg production.  I now have to producing chickens.  In addition to the Barred Rock, the Americana has started producing, and her eggs are green.  Today (Sunday, August 18, 2013), I got two eggs, one from each of my hens.  The Urban Chicken Experiment is doing well!

Chick Update - 2nd Week

It has now been two weeks since I received my baby chicks in the mail, and they are changing every day.  Their growth is quite dramatic.  Their feathers are really starting to show.  They are very active little creatures with interesting personalities.  There are three chicks in particular that actually come to me when I approach the brooder.  They are really looking for treats because I have started dropping a few dried meal worms into their brooder.  These three chicks will take the worms from my hand.  In this week's video, I take you inside the brooder as I give the chicks some of these tasty treats.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Chick Update - 1st Week

It has been just over a week since I received my chicks in mail, and they are doing quite well.  It is amazing how fast they are growing.  Within a few days they their feathers started coming in on their wings, and they are much larger than when I received them.  It is fun to watch them as they are very active and have interesting personalities.  In the following video, I give a complete narrated update.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Let the Fun Begin

I am on my way to expanding my backyard flock. This morning I picked up my new chicks at the post office and moved them into their new home.  They have quickly settled in to the brooder, and I am already noticing interesting chicken behaviors.  They are very active little creatures, and there seems to be a pecking order developing. 

They are quite fun to watch as they are running around as fast as possible one moment, and the next moment they are falling asleep.  When one starts to run, several others do the same.  It is as if they think the first one knows something, and the others want to find out what the something is.

The following video shows everything I did with them today.  It is a bit long, but I wanted to show the first day from start to finish.  It can be summarized as follows:

  1. Wake up to an early morning phone call from the post office notifying me that the chicks have arrived (approx. 1 minute)
  2. Opening the box of chicks (approx. 1 minute)
  3. Placing the chicks one by one into the brooder and showing them where to find the water (approx. 4 minutes)
  4. Watching the chicks to see how they are doing and making sure they are okay (approx. 1.5 minutes)
  5. Ending the day showing how the chicks have settled into their new home (approx. 1 minute)
Enjoy the video!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Experiment Continues

As I indicated in my previous post, I have had a couple of set backs and slow downs.  However, I intend to continue my urban chicken experiment.  I will be expanding my chicken coop to accommodate more chickens.  Additionally, I will be starting with some day old chicks from a mail order hatchery.

I am planning this out a little bit more than my initial chick acquisition.  With the day old chicks, I have to have everything in order and ready to go before they arrive.

For the first eight weeks, the chicks will live in my garage.  Their home will be a hard plastic, children's swimming pool (I purchased one for $14.85 plus tax).  I also got some feeders and waterers, as well as a stand for the brooder light.

I am in the process of setting up everything, and I have placed my chick order.  I purchased five Barred Rocks and five Rhode Island Reds.

In regards to egg production, my Barred Rock has laid five eggs in the past seven days.  I am still waiting on the Americana to start laying, but I am extremely happy to finally have fresh eggs.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Le Premier Ouef

After several months of feeding and watering and tending to my girls, I finally have my first egg.  I have to admit, I was getting a little discouraged.  I knew eventually I would start getting eggs, but I was expecting them earlier.  None the less, I am extremely happy that I am starting to get eggs.  Tomorrow morning's breakfast... toast and a fresh, urban chicken egg over easy!

Enjoy the video and images of my first egg below:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Experimental Slow Down

It has been some time since my last post, and a few things have and have not happened.

First, I had a little (or big set back depending on how you look at it) in my urban chicken experiment.  Two of my four chickens contracted Merricks disease for which there is no cure. As such, I had to put them down because they could not move to eat or drink.  It was not fun at all, but it is part of raising chickens.

The remaining two chickens seem to be doing okay.  They have no signs of Merricks, and they are continuing to grow.

Second, I still don't have any eggs.  I am wondering if my pullets were much younger than I originally thought (was told).  This is very frustrating and disappointing because the whole idea behind raising chickens in my backyard was for fresh eggs.  I have found the Barred Rock in the nesting boxes recently, so I am hopeful she will be laying soon.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bon Appetit

Like all chickens, my chickens are treat obsessed.  Every time I approach the coop, the girls start running back and forth at the edge of the coop waiting for a treat.  I guess I have developed this behavior because usually when I check on my chickens, I bring them something from the kitchen.  They love treats.  One of their favorites is strawberries.  In the following video, I hand feed my chicks, and you can see how they go crazy over treats.

Waiting for Eggs

Well, it has been some time since my last post.  There has not been much to report.  The chickens are growing, but they have not yet started laying.  The initial estimate was they would start producing around May 25th.  So, it is one week later than expected at this point.  However, I think it may still be a few weeks before I see my first egg, as the girls are still a little on the small side (I think they may have been younger than 14 weeks when I got them).  Hopefully it won't be to much longer; I am really looking forward to those fresh eggs.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Just a quick post about a great chicken resource.  I found this website when I started researching how to raise chickens.  It is This is a fun website with lots of great information about chickens.  The most interesting aspect of is the people. 

People who raise chickens are very passionate about their chickens, and there are a lot of people who raise chickens.  Now that I have my own chickens, I understand why.  It has only been three weeks, but it has been a very rewarding experience.  I enjoy just watching my chickens; they are very interesting creatures.

Most people that I have told about my chickens think I am joking around, and they laugh when they first see one of my chicken videos, which are kind of silly.  However, the videos are meant to be fun.  After the initial response, everyone thinks it's pretty cool, and they ask me on a regular basis "How are your chickens doing?".

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Coop Enhancements

Well, I have had my chickens for just over two weeks, and they are doing well.  They are growing and seem bigger every day.

This weekend I made a couple of enhancements to the chicken coop.  The first change was to the watering system for the chickens.  I was using a two gallon galvanized double wall waterer.  This waterer did the job, but my hens kept scratching dirt and grass into their water.  I was having to clean it out twice a day to keep their water clean.  I tried to elevate the container, but within a short time it was always full of grass and dirt.  So, I installed a gravity feed system that uses nipples to deliver the water, and the girls seem to like it.

The second modification was to their feeder.  I installed their feeder under the hen house to make sure the feed stays dry in the event of rain, and it has worked quite well.  However, to refill the feeder required going into the coop.  To avoid stepping into poop, I wanted a way to refilled the feeder without going into the coop.  Using some PVC pipe, I was able to come up with a way to refill their feeder much more conveniently.

Check out the video which shows these enhancement.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tour de Coop

It is now one week into the Urban Chicken Experiment, and the chickens are doing well.  They have hearty appetites, and they definitely seem to be growing.  So, I thought I would give a tour of my chicken coop, and what better way to tour a chicken coop than through a video.  This way you get to see the coop without having to smell the poop (actually, they don't smell to bad).

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Are They Getting Bigger Yet?

It's day six and the pullets are doing well. They have almost completely picked through the first batch of grass clippings that I put in their coop. It's hard to tell because I see them every day, but they look like they have grown since we got them.

We had some rain overnight and the temperatures will be cooler over the next few days, so I am taking some preventive measures. I have added extra garlic to their water to boost their general health, and I will add some apple cider vinegar to their water for the next few days after the rain, which is supposed to help with parasites.

I am starting to see some of their individual personalities. For example, the Leghorn is somewhat dominant. She will chase the other birds away from the spot in which she wants to be. The Americana is a little sneaky. While watching them scratch around yesterday evening, the Leghorn uncovered an earthworm, and before she could get it, the Americana ran in and grabbed it. The two Barred Rocks tend to stay together as if they know they are different breeds.

All of them seem to be very comfortable in the coop. They also seemed to recognize me and are getting more comfortable with me, as they do not run from me.

They are very curious birds as well. If I put a new or different container in the coop, all of them will immediately begin investigating it. I am not sure if their eye sight or sense of smell, but if I bring food into the coop, they are all over it before I can get out.

The following are some pictures from last weekend:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Urban Chicken Experiment - Day 1 - Meet the Chickens

Saturday, April 6, 2013

We got our chickens yesterday evening, and we got them settled in their new home.  Although last night they weren't quite sure where to go to roost.  Our hen house is three feet above the ground and their run with a ramp up to the house.  They climbed about half way up the ramp and stopped to roost there.  So, I had to encourage them the rest of the way in to the hen house. 

I opened the hen house door this morning, and they were a little unsure of what to do.  Again I had to encourage them a little to find their way out.  So, I went to the opposite side of the hen house and reached through the nesting boxes to point the way out.  They stopped at the door, but one was out of the door at the top of the ramp.  So, I watched and waited, and after a few minutes, the Americana jumped down, and shortly thereafter the others joined her.

Overall, they seem to be doing quite well.  They have good appetites and eat constantly.  I think that is a good sign.

The following is a short introduction video, which I hope you enjoy:

This evening when I went to close the hen house, the girls had found their way up the ramp and were settled on the roosting bars.  They seem to be quick learners.

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

Friday, April 5, 2013

I left work early and picked my boys up from school.  From there we drove straight to Blue Star Ranch (with a quick stop at the feed store to get some tasty crumbles for our new chickens).

We arrived at Blue Star Ranch shortly after 4:30, and we met with Mary Ann and her very large German Shepard, Rudy.  An interesting side note about Rudy is that he run over by a train.  Yes, a real, full-size train.  Apparently, his leash got tangled in the wheels and pulled him under.  Obviously, he survived, but less an ear.

Mary Ann was very nice.  She showed us around her large coop, where we saw many breeds of chickens ranging in age from four days old on up.  Mary Ann explained how to select a good chicken.  For example, chickens should have clear eyes, heavy for there size, clean feet and bottoms.  Also, when you hold a chicken on its back, it should be feisty.  

Many of her chickens in the age range for which we were looking were already sold.  However, there were several still available.  We decided that we wanted two Barred Rocks, one Leghorn and one Americana. 

Mary Ann used a net to wrangle in several chickens for for our inspection.  She examined them based on the criteria for good chickens, and she passed on a few chickens that were not quite up to par at that time.  She really wants her customers to get healthy chickens.

Unfornately, we were not able to get good pictures of the chickens and the light was very contrasty and it was getting dark when we got them home, but many pictures and videos will follow soon.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

One More Trip to Home Depot

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Most home building projects start with a trip to Home Depot (or your home improvement store of choice), and as with most home building projects, there are many trips to Home Depot.  I think there is a three trip minimum. This project is no different.  Even with a fairly comprehensive list of materials, I am up to five visits to the hardware store.  There always seems to be one more little thing that is needed. However, I want my chicken coop to be built correctly.

Last night, at around 10:00 p.m., we had substantially completed building the coop, but as I drifted off to sleep I thought of several additional (little) things that could be done to make it better or more complete. So, at 8:00 this morning I stopped at Home Depot on my way to work to pick up those little detail items.

The following are a couple of images of the mostly completed coop.  It was a long night, but the coop had to be completed as we were going to get chickens the next day.

Notice, we moved it from the patio, where we started construction to its permanent location.



Building the Coop

Friday, March 29, 2013
Coop construction began with a trip to Home Depot, where we gather an assortment of 2x4's, plywood, and screws.  After bringing everything home and unloading, we began measuring and cutting.

Slowly the outer frame of the coop began to take shape.

I am not a carpenter, so the roof framing was a bit of a challenge.  However, we managed to come up a design that worked for our purposes.  Next was the roof decking.


Once the walls of the hen house started to go up, the coop really began to take shape.

Notice we built this coop on our back patio.  This is not the coop's final location.  Any one board or piece of plywood doesn't weight that much, but when you attach several piece of wood together,they begin to get quite heavy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hatching the Idea

“So… Can I get some chickens?” I asked. “No!” was her response. That’s how it all started about a week ago.  It was an email exchange between my wife and me.  I had forwarded a blog post from the about raising backyard chickens.  I was joking at first, but also I was a little serious.  As the idea had some time to incubate, I quickly grew more serious about wanting to get some chickens.

A few days later, after doing a little research about chickens and building chickens coops, I bought some building materials and began constructing a chicken coop from a design idea in my head.  I had no plans or drawings.  All I had was an image in my mind based on designs I had seen online. With the help of my three sons, we have made great progress, and the coop should be finished later this week.  By the weekend, we will have four young pullets in the coop, and in a couple of months we should have some fresh eggs from our backyard chickens.
All of this is really an experiment, as I have never raised chickens.  So, I thought it would be fun to keep a blog about the experience.