Discussing more chickens.
Rahn and I were discussing when we plan to get more chicks.
There are a number of good hatcheries. We use Murray McMurray. We’ve always had good results with their chicks.
Chickens are a great choice for even a person beginning a off-grid lifestyle. They are pretty easy to keep healthy and you get breakfast!
I plan to order chicks to arrive in mid-March. That way, they’ll have a period inside and go to a sheltered brooder pen after last frost in early April.
This year we’ll order all females. I’m not sure on breeds this year. I’d like some more Brahmas. Because of a bird flu disaster at Murray McMurray, I wasn’t able to get any last year. Brahmas are generally considered to be a breed better suited to cold areas, but have done quite well here regardless.
Rahn plans to send the rest of the roosters to freezer camp (Yes, that’s an euphemism for slaughter, clean and freeze for food.) at some point this winter.
Historically, food animals were processed during the fall when the weather cooled and before food for animals ran short. People kept the animals that they planned to breed for the next generation, or needed to keep for eggs or milk.
New chicks arrive at our post office only a couple days after they hatch. The post office calls me as soon as they arrive, so I can drive in to pick them up.
We set up a brooder box indoors for their first week with a heat lamp, chick starter food, and a chick waterer. We get each chick to drink, and make sure that they are warm enough. We don’t want the chicks to have to pile up to get warm. That’s a fast way to get chicks to smother the smaller and weaker chicks.
We keep them indoors until they have feathered out. When we do take them outdoors, we keep them in a protected part of the chicken run apart from the older birds until they are large enough to not get bullied.
The best time to integrate the new birds with the older birds is after dark. The two groups have had a couple weeks with a fence between them, and after dark the birds are more interested in sleeping than chasing each other around.
Most breeds of chickens start to lay eggs at about six months of age.