Poultry Drama

My daughter awoke early this morning, as she has for the past several mornings before.  It seems like as soon as I decide to get up before her, karma gives me a nice smack and says “Hey, do you think it’s going to be that easy?”  In any case, she’s lounging groggily on the couch as I wander out to the chicken coop in the early morning light.

The last few mornings I’ve heard crowing from the yard, not too loud, just barely.  Naturally I assumed it was our own Johnny Cash, coming into his own.  So I think hey, any day now Loretta will start laying, now that Johnny is ready to take the reigns as alpha of my little gang of three.  Much to my surprise this morning, as I reach for the coop door latch, I see my own Loretta lift “her” head up and let out a throaty cackle…

Imposter!

One hen and two roosters does not an egg breakfast make.  So it looks like I’m going to be attempting a trade on my poultry group on Meetup, hopefully Johnny for another hen.  I’m getting rid of him instead of “Loretta” because he is Tammy’s brother, and if I ever decide to breed I really don’t want to cause genetic problems; besides, I don’t know if they’ll even breed in the first place.

This is not the true chicken drama – the true drama is, well, POOP.

Everywhere.

All the time.

I’ve had to pressure wash the carport about once every two weeks.  I’ve got to figure out a way to keep them out of the carport and off the porch most of the time.  I think the key is to make the back half of the yard more appealing, possibly with some more shade and water.  I have an Avian Aqua Miser in the coop (which seems to work just fine), but I think the water comes up so slowly that they look for more convenient watering opportunities, like the condensation runoff from the air conditioning unit.  I also may have to switch back to putting out their food all day, instead of just at night, but I’m going to have to get a metal bucket.  I’m pretty sure rats chewed a hole in my plastic bucket solution.

Speaking of which, I’m going to have to get a metal container to store their bulk feed altogether:

I’ve heard rats will even chew through metal though, so I’m going to have to make sure I get a good seal on the container so they don’t really smell it.

I suppose this is a learning process – I grew up on what used to be a farm, and my grandfather has kept a large garden my entire life, but by the time I was born, the animals were long gone.  I’m committed to trying to feed my family myself though, even if only partly, so I’m going to try and fix these problems before I give up.  Anyone with chicken experience, please feel free to throw in your two cents!

Johnny Cash enjoying some compost bugs

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5 Responses to Poultry Drama

  1. Kevin Moon says:

    Well Alicia and I had 30 hens a one time not to long ago, plus I have grew up with my family rising chickens, so here is what I have learned over the years hope it helps. First yes you need more shade in the backyard if they are staying at the car port then its because they are hot, there is food there, or you have something they fear out in the yard, note this the fear cold be Hawks, Eagles, or other predator animals. The Extra shade will help with the Predator Bird problem also because the chickens will be unable to see them, so they will feel safe in the yard. Rats are an issue, make sure they you feed them what they eat and try to avoid having extra food in the feeders at night, Chickens eat mostly in the day light so feed them early or mid afternoon, and remove any extra food at night or you will have MAJOR rat issues. Also hang the feeders and water up so that they can’t scratch it out everywhere not only will this save you money on feed and water but will help to reduce rats also. The storage bin for there food does need to be metal, and needs to have a tight seal so the rats can’t open it, I have never seen rats chew thru metal before but I have seen them open the tops of the bins, because they were not tight enough. I have some others notes for you also that should hopefully help. First Chickens usually don’t lay eggs until they are a year old, also I don’t know what you are feeding them but they need a very high calcium diet for egg laying. The best option is to buy cracked oyster shells and mix some in with their food this prevents soft eggs, and prevents them for eating their eggs to regain their calcium, also helps them have good digestion. Another thing eggs are their offspring and just because you build a nice box doesn’t mean they will use it to lay eggs, they will hide them to protect them, they will hide them in the yard so be on the look out for that; to help prevent that from happening take a golf ball and put it in where you want them to lay eggs. They see the golf ball as an egg and will lay their eggs in there with it. Also hens do crow, like a rooster it is not uncommon to have a crowing hen, not sure without seeing a picture of the chicken you are talking about but just because it crows doesn’t mean its a rooster. Finally Chickens are messy and they poop everywhere, really the only way to keep them out of an area is to fence them out of it, and NEVER feed them in an area you don’t want them to be, feeding them in an area means they will go there to look for food. One last note in the Spring and Summer you can expect to get 2 eggs every 3 days out of most hens, in the fall and winter only 1 egg every 4 days, if you are lucky so don’t worry if your chickens don’t lay an egg until March they are young and fall is almost here so you may not see an egg until March. Hope this helps.

  2. Jessie says:

    Thanks Kevin, this is a lot of information to process! I’m already working on some of these things – hope to have a blog post update soon!

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