Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chickens, Chicks and Chicken tractors.

New peeps!!  i'm so excited that one of game hens became broody earlier this spring. Game hens are known for hiding eggs and going broody often. She decided to set right in one of my main nesting boxes, so i was able to remove most of the eggs and then hand pick the eggs to stick under her. She had one of her own eggs, 6 olive egger eggs and a Mottled Java egg.  i mark the eggs with a sharpie, either putting the date that she begins setting or a big X on the egg. That way if other hens continue to lay in the nest, i know which ones are fresh and which are incubating.

On day 21, i was so thrilled to find this sweet little peep in the nest.  This little guy hatched out of the Java egg.  i began picking up the other eggs and tapping them, and found three olive eggs with pip marks.  i tapped one and it tapped back. Then i began to hear peeping from inside those 3 eggs.  i went back to check on them several times that day, but they hadn't hatched yet.

The next morning when i went out to check i found 4 new peeps. :) The first one is a Mottled Java cross. i'm not sure who the daddy is, but probably a BCM.  The other 3 are Olive egger cross. i believe the two black chicks are Olive egger/ BCM cross so they should grow up to lay dark olive eggs (if they are girls of course).  The chipmunk patterned chick was also an olive egg, so it's daddy is either the Cream Legbar rooster or my main rooster, which i believe is an easter egger. So who knows what color eggs it will lay. :)   i'm really thrilled that was able to hatch out some of the olive eggs. 

i have a second hen broody, and she is setting on another 4 olive eggs, 3 Black star (XL brown) and another Java egg. These are due to hatch the first week of May.  i believe the BCM (Black Copper Maran) is the daddy to most of these, so i'm really looking forward to the variety of egg colors i should be getting this fall. 

As much as i love having all of these animals, you end up rather tied down. It's difficult to find a reliable house sitter/pet sitter if we want to go away at all, and i hate asking friends because i know it's a huge inconvenience to ask them to come out every day and i don't want them to agree because they feel obligated. So we've been working to really improve our animal set up so that we can go away for a day or two without constant worry. Although i have two coops with fencing, my tiny peeps can not get in the main one because of the steep ramp.

Although they could get into the smaller coop, mama hen is very protective of her chicks and will attack the other birds that are in there.  So she really need a small safe area, for her and her chicks to hang out in when we are not here to help them into the main coop. So the husband made me this simple A-frame chicken tractor, which is the perfect size for mama and her peeps. The chicken wire is double layered and staggered, to hopefully keep snakes out. i also had him leave the extra chicken wire along the bottom so i can puts rocks on it or something to make it difficult for anything to squeeze under. 

Once kenan had it finished, my girl and i gave it a quick stain. Then we moved mama hen and her peeps into the new enclosure.  This is the first 'chicken tractor' kenan has built and i think he did a great job with the design. He was originally going to put the door in the back so you could access the little chicken house, but i suggested he move it to the front so it's easy to fill food and water containers. Now that it's complete, i realize that it should probably have a door on both ends. My daughter is dying to get her hands on those cute little peeps, but every time she gets near mama hen hides them in the little chicken house. :)

This is too small to keep chickens in full time, but is great for mamas and peeps and it's also good for breeding pairs. Once my BCM pullets begin laying, i'll be able to put them in here with the BCM roo an guarantee some BCM chicks, rather than barnyard mix which tends to happen when you have multiple roosters. 

Our next project is to replace our current chicken feeders with PVC tube feeders, so we can give them a ton of food at one time and not have to worry about it getting wet/molding/spilling etc. 

i'm really excited to see all the progress we are making this year. i'll continue to post progress updates as we finish each goal.  Gardens have been tilled, and a few things planted so i'll be updating on all of that soon. 


  1. What a lovely chicks!!
    We used to make rabbit rens like this, so we could place them on a fresh spot of grass every time. Very clever design.

    1. i think it will work well for them. Once they get a little bigger they can free range and sleep in the coop with the other birds. This will help keep them safer while they are little and i won't have to go out and put them up every night. We are trying to simplify some tings so we can leave for the day or even an overnight and not have to worry about the animas. This really helps.