To sum up our first week I am going to try to answer some of the most common questions asked....
Why do you want chickens?
Free eggs of course! It's actually more than that. I began research a lot on expanding our vegetable garden and many of the books and sources were about self sufficient living covering topics from gardens to livestock, etc. I had kind of been following the trend of these "urban" self sufficient - creating self sufficient lifestyles while still living in city's and suburban areas, so I'd say were just trying something new!
Another reason - and probably the biggest, is trying to teach our boys that there is more to life than video games and supercenters. We want them to learn some fundamentals in real life - not just computer simulated and reality tv. We even designed the Chicken Coop with a door to the nest box that the kids can access themselves.
How do you build a brooder?
Simple! Ours is just a cardboard box. We hooked up a heat lamp with a 250watt bulb, lined the box with newspapers, bought a waterer and feeder and that was about it! The whole setup was under $10.
How do you raise baby chicks? What do they eat?
Pretty easy...they need to be kept warm for the first few weeks! That is what the heat lamp is for. Start at 95 degree the first week and step it down every week by 5 degrees. Once they are 4-5 weeks old they can be moved outside to the coop with no heat source.
The chicks eat a "starter feed" we got ours at our local feed store, we bought 10lbs for less than $5 - we easily still have 9.9lbs left!
How to you build/buy a coop?
We built ours...more like Matt's dad built most of it! We took a trip to Matt's hometown where his dad has a barn loaded with reclaimed wood. I drew up plans based on a very popular design "The Garden Ark Tractor". The most important thing to is to make sure you have enough square footage per chicken. We only have 3 and can only have 4 in our city, so we choose a smaller one. We also wanted one with a built in run, so if we couldn't let them out to free range one day they still could themselves!
I'll post pictures of our coop once we get it outside (it's in the garage right now).
|garden ark- source: thegardencoop.com|
What do your neighbors think?
We live in a suburban area in a large subdivision. Our yard is maybe .25 of an acre. Our yard is fenced and we plan to locate the coop where it is not visible to the neighbors yards. However they seem on board with our idea!
Do chickens smell?
So far ours don't. I clean out the brooder once a day. I just line it with newspaper and pull it up each day. They only smell I have noticed is the smell of their food...kind of grainy/wheaty smelling? So I'd say no.
So to Raisin, Catwoman, and Chicky! you've made it through you first week in our crazy household! You even show great patience when Brody pets/pokes you and Kohen stalks you every five minutes!
Look how far you've come!.....Don't worry I'm speaking at about a 50% level of sarcasm...but I do like the guys...I mean girls.