Today we brought home twelves baby chickens; eleven hens and one rooster. We added the finishing touches to the brooder and the baby flock moved in. The brooder is an upcycled five foot long, pick-up truck, toolbox. The brooder is black and holds the heat from the heat lamp, it is long enough to allow for some running when the chicks are bigger, it has two access points for easy cleaning, and it is large enough to hold all twelve babies, their feeder and their water. The flock lives in the brooder for about two months.
We initially decided on six hens. My exact words were, “a few, no more than six, hens.” Well, you can see how well that worked out.
We decided to purchase eleven hens because of predation. No matter how careful we are, we will lose some of these birds. We can hope all we want, but chickens are prey animals and predators are sneaky. Not necessarily smart, but sneaky. The hens are a mix of brown egg laying breeds including Wyandotte and Australorp while the rooster Lanchester is a Leghorn. Z named him after the WWII sub-machine gun to ensure his ability to protect the ladies. Mr. Lanchester is the last line of defense. A good rooster will attack any creature that threatens a hen, or looks good to eat. A bad rooster will harm the hens directly, and a stupid rooster harms through negligence. If dear Lanchester is a negligent or bad rooster he’ll end up on the dinner table. Good, old-fashioned, farm justice in action.
Having a larger flock necessitates larger amenities. The basic plan for a hen-house remains intact with six smaller nesting boxes, but the small-scale chicken tractor had to go. We have instead, converted the unused trampoline into a huge tractor of sorts. The reinforced, chicken wire wrapped, trampoline is not quite as mobile as a smaller tractor, but together we can move it every month. In this way the birds can mow, aerate, de-bug, and fertilize the entire lawn one circle at a time.
If all goes well, they’ll be a pretty flock one day. We’ll keep you posted.