Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Week 5 - Its a Chicken!

Well the chicks turned into chickens over night. Yesterday I swear they looked like large Naked Neck Turken chicks, but the chicken growth fairy must have sprinkled pixie dust on them overnight because this morning they look like pullets. They are exactly 29 days old and going through feed like mad. Their feet and legs are huge, and one of them is walking funny and I am worried about them eating too much. I was just with holding food at night, but I think I am going to ration how much feed they get during the day as well.

A couple of them managed to squeeze underneath the back of the hoop house (the ground was fairly uneven) and tried to escape, but my wife (in my absence) braved the hot wire on the gate and rounded up all the escapees and blocked off the gap. This morning I screwed a 2x2" across the bottom of both ends. This makes it much more difficult to drag the hoop house to fresh grass, but I guess I have to wait a few more weeks or rig up a wire flap or something. 

I was pretty sure that I could get away with not moving the hoop house for 2 or 3 days at this stage, but to my surprise, the grass was pretty well used up in one day, even at their small size now. Their first two days in the hoop house I moved it a half length. This morning I moved it a full length. Moving it is a pain cause I have to pull out the feeders and water and the roost bars (I just screwed some branches to a couple 1x2's and just leaned it up against the back wall)

I gave up on the 2 red plastic 24 inch feeders. Its ridiculously difficult for me to get them open, they are always covered in mud and poop, and they are no longer big enough for the chickens to all eat at once. So I built two new 5 foot long feed trough out of a ten foot piece of vinyl rain gutter this morning (but I am only using one right now). Because I was too cheap to buy the plastic ends and sealant, I had to cut some wooden ends out of 2x4's. The hardest part was coming up with a disrupter so they don't bill the feed out or walk all over it and poop in it. I bent some 2 inch welded fence wire into a peak and attached it inside the trough. Seems to work pretty well so far.

I want the feeders to move with the hoop house so I mounted the trough on a 6' cedar fence board and attached an eyelet on one end with a foot of small chain and a spring clasp (from an old dog leash) that hooks the feeder to an eyelet inside the front of the hoop house near the door. This way when I pull the hoop house, the feeder gets pulled right along with it. And I can easily un-hook it and pull it out if necessary.

I am still waiting for the "chicken nipples" that I ordered to arrive so that I can hang a water bucket as well, but for now they just have a large bowl that I have to rinse and fill twice a day. I also need to build some larger roost bars and get them off the ground as well.

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