Day Care

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I’m running a chicken day care.

On April 1 of this year, I had four chickens. Three happily laying hens and one feisty roo.

Today I have 17 – yep 17 chickens.

That feisty roo remains – and he is feistier than ever, just ask my Mom whom he attacked the other day. But I do so love that bird. I have just two happily laying hens. I have one hen who went broody, and successfully hatched a pair of chicks. She is being an amazing mama. So that brings us to six.

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The remaining 11 are a group of six 6-week olds and five 5-week olds.

So, I’d heard all about chicken math…I guess this is how it works.

Fortunately I have manged to set up three different living areas with the three distinct needs of the my three groups of chickens.

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Mr. Millie and Vera and Juliette remain in the red coop, doing their thing…eating, laying eggs, dumping over the food trough and fussing to be let out to free range the second I step out of the house.

The 11 youngsters are in the gray coop, doing their thing, which they haven’t quite figured out yet…but consists mostly of scratching around in the run, hanging on the roost, or top of the ladder and fussing to be let out or given treats the second I step out of the house.

Rayna and her babies – Maddie and Daphne – have taken up residence in a tarp-covered dog crate in the run that connects the two coops eating out of Rachael Ray dishes and doing their thing, which right now consists of them dodging Mama’s flinging of straw and dirt as she forages for them or catching the Grubblies and pieces of watermelon she tosses their way and fussing to be let out to eat clover the second I step out of the house.

Over the weekend we came up with a routine…Rayna and the babies got first dibs on free-ranging each morning since she is the one who spent three-weeks cooped up to bring these babies into the world.

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A few hours later they went back to the run and the door to the gray coop opened for the 11 youngsters to come dashing and flapping out. Still young and new to this free-ranging thing, they don’t venture too far from the coop area and while Mr. Millie will mingle freely with the youngsters and Juliette seems mostly uninterested, Vera on the other hand…she is queen bee, at least while Rayna is still focused on her babies. They have all been staring at each other through  fencing for nearly two weeks, but that is not enough time to mingle just yet as evidenced when Vera went straight for the youngsters and started establishing the pecking order a little too literally for this chicken mama’s liking. I shuffled Vera and Juliette into the main yard with Millie. The next day the youngsters and adults alternated their time free-ranging.

That was all fine and good for the weekend, but weekdays, when they don’t get to free range until I get home from work, well that’s where it gets a bit more interesting.

I directed Millie and the girls to the main yard, let Rayna and babies out and then unrolled some chicken wire to create a movable fence giving the youngsters a wide area around their coop to roam freely and not meet Rayna’s wrath protecting her babies. Phew…that works for now.

 

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