Chicks & Chooks, together at last

D-day has arrived – it’s time for my six surviving chickies to go in with the big chooks. Six chicks out of twelve, a 50% success rate. I was hoping for higher, but at least I got that. Half of them are roosters. I knew that I had at least one – the crowing was a bit of a give away. But I know for sure now – Tony, the chook man, showed me how to tell the difference.

Roosters feathers are different to hens on the rump region, they become long and thin just before the tail and are called ‘saddle feathers’. In the same area hens feathers remain fat and rounded. So my only Barnevelder, only Rhode Island Red and one of the Gold Laced Wyandottes are boys. Well, that’s two, maybe three for the table – might keep one for breeding – and I got three girls to replace the three I lost last year, so that’s good.

It was just after dusk when I grabbed the chickies and put them on the roost in the henhouse with the big chooks. Interestingly not a single one of them stayed on the roost, they all jumped down and huddled in the corner together. Not surprising really when you consider that’s what they’ve been doing all their lives, except when they decided to roost on their house and in the creeper instead of going to bed in the cute little house Tim built where they’d be nice and safe! Xav and I spent many nights searching for missing chickies, until I trimmed back the creeper cave and it no longer seemed so dark and appealing.

Anyway, everybody was still alive in the morning when I let them out, so that was nice. I left them all locked in the run that first day to give the youngsters a chance to adapt to their new home. The first lock up was interesting – none of the young ones wanted to go in, and when I physically put them in they ran back out the door! So that was a bit tricky! However, after many exclamations about their inability to stay in the house or let me catch them, I finally got them all in, and again they roosted upon the floor beneath the roosts.

Day two and I opened the run. The big chooks roamed free while the chickies stayed close to their new home. On the third day Sprinter (my only surviving Ancona named for her incredible short bursts of speed) decided to give roosting a go, and after about a week they were all roosting quite happily, well mostly anyway. I think it’s going to work, and most importantly, all fourteen chooks are doing well.

Chookie Delay

No Chooks today, so sad 🙁

I had a phone call from my chook supplier last night telling me that he wasn’t happy with the quality of some of the birds he was sourcing for me, so could I wait another month? He didn’t want to sell me chooks that were poor quality. I’m very, very grateful for that.

I’m disappointed though. Was soooo looking forward to picking up our girls today, but I’d prefer to wait than get substandard chooks. Not all of them were substandard. I could have got half my flock, but then I’d have to deal with introducing new birds to an established flock. Something I’m trying to avoid in the beginning of my chook keeping career.

On the upside, I’m really glad I’m getting my chooks through this guy – he’s looking after me and not out to rip me off. He knew I’d be disappointed (I’ve been talking to him for the last four months about which chooks I should get) but he said he’d much prefer me to be disappointed now than disappointed in the long term with poor quality chooks. Besides, it would make him look bad and I’d probably never buy from him again!

He did say that if he’s able to source those other breeds I’m after before next market day, he’ll deliver them sooner. The delay gives me the chance to finish one or two small things in the coop that are bugging me, especially setting up the enclosed space for our broody chook and future chickens.

It also give me time to research the geodesic dome chicken tractor and put one together, maybe even before the girls arrive. We’ll be using it as a day run. That way the girls can help me turn the weedy mess that calls itself a lawn, into beautiful, productive (eventually) circle gardens.