Planning for Fall Chicks

Summer is almost over and that means it time to plan for fall chicks. Unlike most parts around the country, Phoenix’s springtime doesn’t always give us the 8 weeks we need to get chicks from the brooders to grow pens before it’s too hot.  I like my pullets to be at least 12-16 weeks old before the 90 degree temps hit, and that could be as early as March.

We all have our preferences, and I’m sure chicken keepers in Phoenix all raise chicks their own way. But personally, I find it a lot easier to keep chicks warm, rather than trying to keep them cool.

What will TBN Ranch be hatching this year? Silkies of course… but we’ve also expanded to accommodate laying hens. After pondering over which breeds to buy, I finally decided on the Leghorn, Dominique, and Ameraucana. Not a big fan of the Ameraucana and their rather aloof personality, but I do appreciate the splash of color they contribute to the egg basket.

As you can see I’ve been busy painting coop signage too! Here’s a few pics of the breeds that will join our flock in the near future. Gosh, if I order them get the chicks in October they won’t be joining the flock until February or March of 2017…  sure does take a long time doesn’t it?

JumpingMcNuggetsgfd

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New Articles for Chicken Keepers | March 26, 2016

Articles for Chicken Keepers, by Chicken Keepers is an updated collection of chicken keeping articles from across the web archived in one convenient library on our menu bar.
Have an article to submit? Send it to amyichi@yahoo.com with ARTICLE SUBMISSION on the subject line.

New Articles | March 25, 2016
How Old is the Average Supermarket Egg? | Fresh Eggs Daily®
Cooking Eggs For Chickens | Backyard Poultry Magazine
Chicken Wire or Hardware Cloth for Coops – Timber Creek Farm
Secrets To Predator-Proofing Your Chicken Coop | Off The Grid News
Sick Chickens? Spot the Symptoms [Infographic] – Hobby Farms
Fox Deterrent | Nite Guard
Dominique Chickens: Heritage Poultry Breeds
Delaware | Whitmore Farm   About the Delaware Chicken
Barred Plymouth Rock Will Rock Your Flock – The Fowl Blog
How to Get Rid of Your Chickens’ External Parasites – For Dummies

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What’s New at TBN Ranch
Below is one of two coops that has been predator proofed, I’m confident there’s no chance of any predator ever getting inside. My once not so handy husband is turning into quite a hand! He’s not much into the chickens, but he was pretty upset about the coyote attack and this is what he did for our feathered family members. Coop is now raised 21″ high, and and has a solid wood floor. I dare even a tiny sparrow to find entry!

Raised Coop 32516

This coop is where chicks go after they leave the brooder, they’ll stay here until they’re ready to join the flock at about four months old.

Piper and Cookie, a Standard Cochin and Buff Silkie are the only youngsters who survived the predator ordeal three weeks ago. They are from my Fall 2015 chicks, and although integrated into the existing flock, still stick together as best pals. So happy they still have each other. They’re inseparable, they even lay their eggs together!

I’ve said in the past to keep flock members that are all about the same size to minimize bullying… but I’m kinda sorta changing my mind about that. Piper is close to seven pounds and Cookie is barely a pound, no problems with the other lightweights in the flock either. However, let’s just say it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that sometimes size does matter in the chicken world.

Cochin and Silkie Pullet 32016

Down Filled

Down Filled 15

Choosing a Good Laying Hen

Breed choices for high yield and excellent egg quality… The Pearl -White Leghorn / Hen: 4 pounds.

Best egg layer and the feed to egg conversion ratio is excellent, holding down the cost of egg production. These birds start laying earlier than most at 41/2 – 5 months, and on the average lay 10 -12 weeks longer than most good laying hens. If your looking for the breed who’ll  give you the most eggs of superior quality in the smallest amount of space, consider the Pearl Leghorn.  They are a white egg layer of top grade eggs with good size.
The Pearl Leghorns can be purchased at Murray McMurray Hatchery, but they require an order of at least fifteen.
Although these birds aren’t usually found in your local feed store, you can ask a feed store to order them for you when THEY buy chicks, they’re often willing to oblige.

Rhode Island Red / Hen: 6 lbs

Martha & Michelle 2010

R.I. chicks are readily available in almost all feed stores. They are excellent layers of sizable brown eggs. They do quite well in confinement, but can be a bit bossy.  These dual purpose heavy birds are a dark mahogany color and have earned their reputation as a favorite among chicken keepers for years.

No other heavy breed lays more or better eggs than the Rhode Island Red.

The Dominique / Hen: 5 1/2 pounds

Mamma, Dominique

This is my favorite breed on the farm. They are hardy in extreme heat, confine well, are extremely docile, friendly, and good brown egg layers. You can expect the Dominique to lay every other day, and here in Arizona mine lay most all winter.

My Dominique hens  are non aggressive to other members in the flock, and I’ve introduced new birds with only minor confrontations.

This particular hen is now three years old and still laying quality eggs every other day.

And Furthermore…

You can also buy pullets (hens at their point of lay) if you want to skip raising chicks altogether. Check your local Craigslist under Farm & Garden, you may find just the breeds you’re looking for right in your own neighborhood. Expect to pay $15 to $20 each. Beware of buying chicks though… they’re usually not sexed and you might end up with rooster, finding yourself in violation of local city codes.

Don’t know what time of year to start your flock? Watch your local feed stores, when they start carrying chicks, it’s time.

Happy Hen

Mamma 2012
Big Mamma, Dominique hen

Groceries from Costco comes with a bonus every week… clean nest boxes.  This is Big Mamma enjoying the clean sheets in her new Kirkland nest box.