Every so often the nesting boxes give you a jolt and a surprise much like the ones you got when you realized Santa came and he thought you were a good kid. Last Friday that’s exactly what happened. Continue reading
We butchered the first two of our chickens this weekend and while we may do some more in-depth posts in the future on the actual process of slaughtering, eviscerating and butchering, this entry is more about the experience as a whole. I’d rather explain that because there is no shortage of far better online tutorials and books than anything this novice could explain. This is once case where getting the details from me would be a bit of Xerox, with you losing a little of the quality of the information. Continue reading
If you are a free range chicken owner you understand how much of a threat birds of prey are to your flock. We have certainly witnessed first hand what a hawk can do to your beloved chicken.
At our farm we (I and Brewster) are always on hawk patrol. If I’m out in the field and I see a large shadow soar across the grass, I instantly look up to try to identify it. The problem is, here in Wisconsin we have a high population of two types of birds that are very similar yet mean two totally different things to our flock. I’m going to try and give the basics of identifying Hawks vs. Turkey Vultures as I am still trying to become a pro at this so my farmer neighbors can stop hearing me scream across the field at the chickens to take cover because I think I see a hawk soaring overhead.
Here is what I’ve learned so far:
- The wing tips of turkey vultures look like fingers where as the hawks wings are less defined and smaller.
- Vultures sore in circles for longer lengths of time. Hawks soar for much shorter lengths and do a lot more up and down passes
- Vultures tend to wobble when soaring where hawks stay smooth and steady.
- Vultures soar with a slight V shape in their wings as hawks fly flat.
- Vultures have a dark belly as hawks have a light colored belly.
- Seems vultures fly/soar in groups where hawks are typically solo or with their mate.
So there you have it. These two birds are a common sight for us and I will continue trying to figure out better ways to tell them apart.
A sad scene this morning when I went to let the chickens out. One of our biggest fears and it finally happened. Night predators. As I came to the pink coop with the 4 young “black babies,” as we call them, something was off. The waterer was turned over and empty and there were black feathers all over the run. Continue reading
Well folks, our chicken coop building experiences are complete (for now). The egg layer babies and our first hatched have the pink coop, the oldies (original egg layers) are in their red coop and now, the meat chickens and our lone turkey are moved into their summer “meat bird coop.” Continue reading
As we increase our flock from 12 to 42 chickens the need for more space for them was becoming an issue. When everyone is a baby they need heat lamps and we call that a brooder house/box. When they get enough feathers it’s time for them to move outside. But when they go to an outside coop they need protection from predators a bit more than the grown up chickens since they are smaller and more vulnerable. And if you are integrating your young ones into your flock you best have your coop big enough to have two sections, one for each group. Continue reading
As our laying chickens are approaching 2 years old, we decided this year to try to replenish our laying production and add a few more chickens to the group in hopes to keep egg production continuous. We had originally hoped our Buff Orpington chicken would go broody and would hatch us some babies, however, by the time she went broody, we had brought home the four Black Australorp/Black Star chicks. Continue reading
And they are here! Another round of babies!! We ended up with 24 Red Broiler chicks and 2 Broad Breasted White turkeys. After our episode with our accidental, beloved Cornish Cross, “Big Bird”, we decided not to go down that road and try a different meat bird. A meat bird that is a bit less prone to problems, slower growing and good for free ranging. So that’s how we ended up picking the red broilers. Continue reading
As the days get longer the projects get more complete! We continued working at the coop for our soon arriving meat chickens and pair of turkeys. We completed the two walls with the rest of the pine tongue and groove planks and then painted it barn red.