Updating the Chicken Coop

Chicks in the Brooder are Three Weeks Old

The March 18th chicks are growing fast and there’s work to be done before they leave the brooder and move into the coop.  As long as I’m stuck at home, seemed like a great time to update the chicken coop. There’s always something I’m not satisfied with, this year I’m going to do something about it.

My biggest pain in the butt are wild birds eating all my chicken feed. They squeeze through the tiniest hole in the chicken pen, and then can’t get out. They fly around inside bouncing off the walls, causing total chaos among the flock.

You probably think this is no big deal, but chicken feed is expensive, and wild birds can easily eat 5lbs or more every single day. That means I’m buying a $14.99 bag of feed every 8 days or so. Taking that into consideration, it would be a lot cheaper to just buy eggs!

The coop is a 10×10 covered chain link pen, inside an open air barn or shedrow at the back of our property. I had it completely covered with aviary netting, that was somewhat suitable, however, birds and lizards would get caught in it. That’s another problem I  want to avoid so I took all of it off. One problem solved, but another was created.   I was now committed to finding a favorable solution.

The Solution
I bought 3 50ft rolls of 1/2 inch hardware cloth and have almost finished covering the entire coop. Talk about time consuming, OMG. My fingers are a mess, my nails broken, and my arms look like I’ve been in a battle zone.  BUT, there will be no birds getting in my coop this year!

The Girls at Three Weeks Old

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New Chicks Arrived at TBN Ranch

This year we are raising Ameraucana (Easter Egger hybrids) and Silver Laced Wyandottes. The Easter Egger will lay blue-green medium size eggs and the Wyandottes lay brown medium-large eggs. Both breeds are docile and friendly, however, the Easter Eggers’ personality is best described as aloof.

This flock will begin to lay these beautiful colored eggs in about 5-6 months.

What the Chicks Will Look Like When Mature…

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Best and Worst Heat Tolerant Chickens

Most chicken keepers are more concerned about cold tolerant breeds. But if you live in the Sonoran desert, the scorching heat is by far a bigger problem.  Before you order your Spring chicks keep in mind these three breeds for heat hardiness. They’ve proved to me over and over to be the real survivors of the flock.

Best

  • Ameraucana
  • Dominique  (Best of heavy breeds)
  • Polish
  • Silkie
  • Bantams in General

Heavy birds are harder to keep in hot weather, especially if they are confined. They may survive, but heat stress does effect egg production. However, it’s not always just heavy breeds I find intolerant. These are the breeds I’ve had the least success with in extreme temperatures of 110 – 117.

Worst

  • Orpington
  • Leghorn
  • Most Heavy Breeds in General
  • Rhode Island Reds

I’ve eliminated the Rhode Islands from my flock not because they don’t survive the heat… they absolutely do. However, they become extremely agitated in brutal heat and all the other members of the flock pay the price. This breed may lay all summer without interruption, but they can sure disrupt the harmony of a flock when they are uncomfortable in high temperatures.

In my opinion, the real trooper in the worst weather conditions is the Ameraucana, and they’re good layers too! But don’t pick this breed if your looking for a pal, this is the loser breed as far as I’m concerned. The perfect word describing this breed is ALOOF.

The Ameraucana, or often called the Easter Egger lays blue/green eggs, and you can expect approximately four medium-large eggs per week.

Learn more about the Ameraucana.

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