Part three is a reissue with some additional information. After our losses we decided we needed a better coop. It started like this:
Now for the cute and fluffy part of the post, then there will be more photos of the new coop and run after.
We purchased twelve, three-day-old chicks on March 09, 2016. They are red sex links. Click here for more on this breed of chicken The Lowdown on Red Sex Links
Here they are at six days old.
This is a good link for beginners to learn about raising chickens Backyard Chicken.com Frequently asked questions of raising chickens
We have raised chickens before. We started while living in town. Truly a backyard chicken venture. Then we moved to a place with some land and allowed the chickens to free range. They loved it! We loved that they kept the insect population under control. We made sure we closed everything up at night and all went well for the first two years. Then hens started to go missing. We finally discovered that a fox and her kits had taken up residence close to the house in a rock pile (go figure). She and her kits were well fed but we lost all of our hens. She attacked during the day while the hens free ranged. We also lost the rooster to a different predator that came in the evening before we had the coop closed up. We have since built a new coop with some added safety features and hopefully these chicks will live long happy lives.
The new coop is ready to go and has a large run. These babies will not go outside (except for field trips) until they are fully feathered out and the temperatures stay above 65 degrees. We have an automatic door now that opens at dawn (or a little after) and closes at dusk. We hope that this will prevent the door from being left open after the hens have put themselves to bed if we are not home. The plan is to not allow the hens to free range unless we are home. We know that we have fox, raccoon and opossums in the area (in the yard some nights).
Chicks on their first field trip outside – 22 days old
We still need to build the nest boxes and set up the feed and water for the new coop. there are so many ways to set this up and I just haven’t made up my mind which system I want to try.
I would love to hear any suggestions on nest boxes, feed or water systems you may have tried.
Additional thoughts 9-22-2017
We wish we would have made the coop just a little bigger. It would have allowed for additional chickens to be added if we wanted. As it is, twelve large chickens is about max depending on personality of the chicken. This breed tends to get bored and peck one another and pull feathers. The run is great, but they need to free range or, once again, the pecking starts and the egg laying goes down. This breed has been the most reliable layers we have ever had. They have only slowed laying when “cooped” up for long periods, but other than that, they have continuously provided eggs 365 days a year for over two years now. Because they need to free range, we have lost a few to predators. Scarily enough, one of these events was while I was out in the yard with them. We had a very fast fox grab a hen when I went into the garden shed to get a tool. It was kind of unnerving to know we were being watched that closely while working in the yard. Overall the new coop has been great. The automatic door by Chickendoors.com has worked flawlessly and the chickens are great about getting in the coop before the door closes for the night (now). We had to manually open it a few times for the stragglers until they figured it out.