Chickens

Mobile chicken coop is functional!

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Ильф и Петров, Двенадцать стульев, Глава 31.

 

It took me almost the whole month to design and make a reliable platform for the chicken coop. But the hardest part was to lift the heavy structure 3 feet up and pool the platform underneath on very ruff and wet terrain. We were lifting the coop with one scissor and one hydraulic jack, and replacing the jacks with wide logs. Theoretically this should work smoothly, but in practice jacks tend to fall.

Instead of planned 2 hours the lifting took more than a day. Coop fell 3 times nullifying all previous efforts. At last our chief engineer, Gennady, suggested to lift the coop on long boards and put them on logs outside of the coop perimeter. This permitted the trailer to move freely and avoid touching jacks while maneuvering..

Chicken coop is mobile now. Two persons can move it.

Chicken coop is mobile now. Two persons can move it.

Mobile chicken coop on a platform

We can move the coop in 2 persons now. Chickens got access to fresh grass, at last…

June beetles trap

Insects are the favorite food for chickens. Also they are plenty. The only problem is how to get them. Here is my first attempt to make a June bugs trap. It’s a regular plastic bucket. There is a small amount of vegetable oil in the bucket (3 – 4 mm, 1/8″).  It should be good for chickens. Some also recommend to give essential oils to chickens – this is an efficient combination of both.

The lamp is luminescent.  There is 1/8" of vegetable oil in the bucket. 4 bugs were caught in the first night.

The lamp is luminescent. There is 1/8″ of vegetable oil in the bucket. 4 bugs were caught in the first night.

Mobile Chicken Coop , first big move

After 2 months at the main farm snow melted at last and I decided to move chickens to project PACE’s parcel.

The mobile coop survived this move, though some problems surfaced up.

1. Wooden floor tends to bend under coop’s weight, so coop should stand on a solid frame.

2. Coop can’t drive on mud – wheels break easily when they are stuck. The wheels should be stronger and of larger diameter. They should be placed closer to the center of mass to make it easier to maneuver the heavy coop.

From the good side, chickens really like their home. Though they have much more freedom, they spend most of their time close to the coop or inside.

 

Golden Eggs

It’s all started from mid March. With the Sun rising the greenhouse became hotter during the day. Approximately in the same time egg production started to drop.

First, both dogs were caught stealing eggs. They reasoned that the eggs were not mentioned in the contract… I had to install a gate to prevent dogs from getting into the shelter.

Jenko before the new gate

Jenko before the new gate

Maya is drinking from chicken waterer

Maya is drinking from chicken waterer

Then the construction of a rocket stove came with dust, some noise and many people. Chickens actively participated in the construction. They cleaned new excavations from all what can move, tasted construction materials for allergens and entertained the general public.

Chickens on the construction of a rocket stove

Chickens on the construction of a rocket stove

But even without dog interference eggs didn’t return. It’s not clear why. May be because of the gate? Sharp temperature swings in the greenhouse? Something is missing in the diet (or some extra stuff from the construction)?

Though chicken look happy and active and eat well.

Treating chicken lice

Lina with Petrus the silent

Lina with Petrus the silent

On Tuesday we decided to do a checkup for chickens and tag them. While on check-up my kin-eyed Lina discovered a kind of lice on many chickens.

After consulting Internet I decided to dusts them with wood ashes. Daniel agreed to help me.

Daniel calms down a chicken

Daniel calms down a chicken

Daniel treats Bertha the chicken

Daniel treats Bertha the chicken

And showed a great talent in calming the birds. We did the job in parallel. While my chickens were nervous scratching with their legs and flapping their wings. Daniel’s chickens were calm and relax. They pooled their legs with joy and barely needed to be held at all.

Two questions still remain open: what kind of the lice/mites have our chickens and whether our treatment will help.

Chickens update

First time 5 eggs – the new record for Feb 17, 2015

So far all chickens are doing well. Some of them lay eggs regularly from the first day. We don’t buy eggs already 2 weeks!

Egg production chart for Feb. 27 2015

It looks like at least 6 of 8 white chickens lay eggs regularly. It’s hard to say anything about brown ones.

Some small problems also came out.

Scaly Leg Mites

Scaly Leg Mite Feb 20, 2015

I discovered scaly leg mites on poor Bertha the chicken.

Daniel helps to treat Berta the chicken,

Daniel helps to treat Berta the chicken, Feb 22 2015

So we had to do a simple treatment to her.

 

Bertha after treatment Feb, 27 2015

Bertha after treatment Feb, 27 2015

Now she seems much healthier and happier.

Also we received an official visit from two farm dogs. Chickens were accepted (with some suspicion) under protection.

We have got chickens!

Open Air chicken coop

Open Air chicken coop

I’ve finished the open air chicken coop by the end of January. When I started to search for chickens ready for winter, I discovered there none for sale! All chickens, even hardy breeds are kept in heated coops (or at least under a heating lamp). My first reaction was to reschedule the chickens for April. But then I recalled that the new greenhouse on the main farm is standing empty from Autumn.  After consulting with Benoit, the next simple design came out:

Greenhouse Chicken Shelter

Greenhouse Chicken Shelter

I call it a “Chicken Toaster” because of heating fan and a temperature sensor at the top. It took 2 hours to make the whole “system”.

Now I could buy chickens. I found a advertisement on Kijiji about young laying hens for $7 each, that is cheaper than usual. There was some suspicion about the place, because chickens are usually sell fast and those were still available for more then 2 weeks. Olivier called them also and also didn’t like the answers.

After some hesitations I decided to go and see the chickens in Saint-Lin.

Just the view of the farm confirmed my hesitations, but when I saw the poor, beak-mutilated orphans with frostbitten combs and crooked fingers my hart broke and I bought 15 hens and 1 rooster. I probably had to buy (actually to save) more, but there was a lot and I couldn’t save all…

Transporting chickens

Transporting chickens

Chickens are very compact! They packed for me 15 chickens  + 1 rooster in 5 grocery boxes. The rooster was alone, in one box there were 5 chickens, how other were placed, I don’t remember.  All chickens were extremely calm and submissive. All the way they were so calm that I started to fear if they are still alive.

15 chickens on a single slade

15 chickens on a single slade

They calmly allowed to pool them in one ride to the greenhouse,

Hungry chickens at the feeder

Hungry chickens at the feeder

and were very happy to have some food and water. I decided to start from their usual feed and later slowly switch to more natural diet and food scrap.

Chickens in the temporary shelter

Chickens in the temporary shelter

They also accepted their shelter. Poor things are not accustomed to roost. So some of them went to sleep on the floor this night.

First egg!

First egg!

When I returned home I discovered in one of the boxes a humble present from my chickens – the first egg!

It was slightly broken by rough handling of the boxes, but still very tasty!