City Chick goes Country

Homesteading on a 0.18 acre suburban lot in rural Arkansas

Month: May 2014

The Chicken Tractor

I could not stand having the little pullets indoors anymore. They were getting too big for their tubs. I was changing the shavings out several times a day because they kept knocking over their waterer. Because they were cramped for space, they were very noisy. Time for the to go outdoors but there was one problem…there was no place for them to go. Solution to the problem—a chicken tractor.

The Chicken Tractor

My husband and youngest son created this amazing chicken tractor. They spent the better part of Mother’s Day afternoon building it. It looks great, it’s functional, and it gets those sweet pullets out of my house. Here are some pictures of the pullets in their new home.

City Chick goes Country's chicken tractor.

The pullets really love their new chicken tractor.

 

 

 

 

 

City Chick goes Country's new chicken tractor.

Another view of the pullets in the chicken tractor. It may take them a while to get used to this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

City Chick goes Country's chicken tractor.

The chicken tractor will be the new home for our pullets until their permanent enclosure is ready.

 

Good thing we bought a tarp to cover the chicks up at night. It’s raining hard—we could see up to four inches before this is over. The chicks have been under the tarp for most of the day.

I was more than ready for those chicks to go outdoors. Finally, I have a normal living room—with 3 college/teenage boys and 4 dogs.

—Lynda; a city chick gone country

Romeo, chickens and the evolution of a backyard turned urban homestead

Copyright City Chick goes Country 2014.. All rights reserved.

Romeo keeping the chickens safe from harm

Romeo never ceases to amaze me. He started out by keeping our Cornish Cross chicks safe from harm. When they moved outdoors he followed them. Now that I allow the chickens to free range with supervision for part of the day, he helps to herd them in and out of the greenhouse. As the chickens forage around the lawn surrounding the greenhouse, Romeo watches and interacts with them. I am not sure if he is being a good farm dog or if he thinks he is a chicken.

 

Chicks round two

We decided that keeping chickens is not particularly difficult. So, the commitment to bring in hen for eggs was made. We searched through many chicken magazines and Storey’s Ilustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds to decide on which chickens would suit our needs.

 

The original plan was to bring in 10 pullets—ideally Black Australorp and Speckled Sussex for eggs and a straight run of New Hampshire reds for meat. Then we saw that Tractor Supply had Black Australorps, Barred Rocks, and Ameraucaunas. All are decent layers. They are supposed to be all pullets.

 

We decided to purchase 24 chicks—eight of each. This was to save on money, it was way cheaper to purchase the chicks here than it was to order from a hatchery. Eventually we would cull out 15 pullets for meat. It would take a while for them to mature. We will call this plan B.

 

Several issues immediately became clear to us. The chicks were in a combined bin which contained Australorps, Barred Rocks, Ameraucauna, and Golden Phoenix. We were not interested in Golden Phoenix because they are an ornamental/show bird. The staff could not tell the chicks apart. We knew that the black chicks had to be either the Barred Rocks or the Black Australorps. The other two looked way to similar to each other and two different employees gave two different opinions as to which ones were which.

 

Now that the new set of chicks have been with us for almost a month, two things are becoming very clear. There are at least two cockerels in the bunch—maybe more. All cockerels will be processed as meat birds as soon as they start to make crowing noises. We are not allowed to keep roosters. The other issue is that the eight supposed Ameraucaunas are looking more and more like Golden Phoenix.

 

So we have come up with plan C. We will cull out any and all cockerels as soon as they reach fryer size—sooner if they start to crow. Golden Phoenix will be next on the list. Hopefully they can get to broiler size, if not, then fryer size it is. The nice thing about chickens is if the meat is tough, it can be stewed or used in pot pies. The carcass and wings make really good stock.

 

Chicks to broilers

Back to the Cornish Cross chickens. I am not sure how Romeo will handle the day when we process the chickens. These are his friends. He will have to be kept indoors while the event takes place. A good farm dog has to learn that livestock comes and goes. I think that Romeo will miss his little white chicken friends. They should be ready to process in about two weeks.

 

He will have another flock to look after. This time around, some of his friends will stay and hopefully provide us with a wonderful supply of fresh eggs. It will be interesting to see how he handles it all. For sure, he is a good dog around the chickens. I never would have thought a Bedlington Terrier would be the dog guarding my chickens.

 

—Lynda

A City Chick gone Country (or crazy depending on who you talk to)

Chicks and the Greenhouse

Copyrighted image

The chicken greenhouse and yard. Copyright City Chick goes Country

The Cornish Cross chicks are full grown chickens now. We have moved them into a portable greenhouse and let have supervised outdoor time. The greenhouse makes for a decent temporary chicken coop, but there are some drawbacks to it which I will elaborate on later. This will be the last time we purchase Cornish Crosses.

 

Why a greenhouse

Part of homesteading is using what you have on hand. The chicks quickly got too big for that little 40 gallon tub. To the great pleasure of my son, we moved them outdoors. The greenhouse made sense. It would keep the chicks warm and secure. Doors could be opened completely to give plenty of air and sunshine until we could build secure fencing for them.

 

The greenhouse is a Flower House Pop-up types that easily fold into a storage bag when not in use. It has a few poles, stakes, and cord to tie it down. I added more stakes and ropes. We live in tornado country and there are days on end where the wind blows at 20-30 miles an hour for the better part of the day.

 

 

Inside the greenhouse we put up a chicken wire pen. We added a cardboard box for the chooks to feel secure in at night. Food, water, grit and dried mealworms are put up on cinderblocks. The floor is a thick layer of pine shavings. This gave the 9 chicks a 6 x 5 foot enclosure. Every couple of days, I turn over the shavings, remove any that are really wet, and then add another bag of shavings if necessary.

 

Why I like this greenhouse:

  • It protects the chickens from the weather. Rain cannot get in unless the doors are open. The chickens are also out of the wind.
  • There is no floor so I can use a deep litter method of keeping the chickens.
  • Hawks and other birds of prey cannot get to the chickens.
  • I can easily control the temperature by adjusting the doors and the two small openings for cords and hoses.
  • I already had this so it made for a quick and easy chicken house.
  • When the chicks were smaller, the greenhouse was able to keep them safe and warm.
  • In my particular situation, the greenhouse is predator proof.

 

Downside to the greenhouse:

  • It can get very warm quickly. If the doors are not open and the greenhouse is in direct sun, chickens can overheat. I found this out first-hand when I lost 3 of my Cornish Cross chickens to heat stroke.
  • If you have a large number of chickens, this particular setup is too small.
  • The greenhouse holds moisture, so if water spills you have to ventilate it well.
  • Purchasing one can be expensive.

 

 

We have 4 hens and one rooster remaining. They will be ready for processing in about two weeks. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

 

Hope you enjoyed this

 

—Lynda

A city chick gone country.