In this episode we discuss why it is important to quarantine new chickens, and then talk about how you evaluate a chicken coop before you buy it.
Last weekend, I was working in my workshop in the back of our property when Suzy called me on the radio, shouting “Get up here quick! Ducks!”
When Suzy calls for help, I always have trouble deciphering her instructions, so I never know what I am walking into. In this emergency, there was a duck and six little ducklings racing across the front yard with our dog Max chasing right behind them.
The momma duck managed to get her ducklings hidden in a stand of palmetto bushes before she took off to lure Max away. We spend a little time sharing our adventure of reuniting the ducklings with their momma.
One moral to the story: change out of your pajamas before you start your weekend yard work.
In this episode, we bring you the story of a young man named Haden from Elkmont, Alabama. This young man went a little nuts when his girlfriend broke up with him. But he had a plan. It was a bad plan, but it was a plan. He asked his mother to call his ex-girlfriend’s mother to convince her to persuade the ex-girlfriend into getting back together with him.
Haden’s mom clearly saw that this leaned towards the pathetic, so she declined to make the call on his behalf. Haden became enraged and started killing one of his mother’s chickens every fifteen minutes and sending her photos of the dead chickens.
This sad tale ends with Haden being arrested for animal cruelty. My guess is he won’t have trouble with women for a least a little while.
Do Hens Need a Rooster?
We received an email from Connie who wanted to know if she needed a rooster for her hens to start laying. They are three months old now and she has yet to find an egg.
While all rooster ‘need’ a hen, no hen needs a rooster. All healthy hens of laying age will lay eggs regardless of whether they have ever seen a rooster in their lifetime.
Connie hasn’t seen an egg yet because most hens start laying at about six months of age. I know it seems like forever, but you are about half way there Connie!
Why Is My Chicken Sneezing?
Dustin emailed us to ask us about a young chicken he has that has been sneezing.
He found some young chickens on Craigslist and brought them home. Almost immediately, he noticed that they were sick and took them to the vet. The vet suggested he destroy them and get new birds.
Dustin did end up dispatching the sick birds and then disinfected his brooder with bleach and let let it rest for a bit before getting new birds from a reputable breeder. It is this new batch of birds in which he heard the sneezer, and he worries that the disease from the last batch may have carried on to his new batch.
How to Evaluate a Coop?
Erin emailed us from California. She just recently acquired five baby chicks and is in a hurry to get a coop ready for them when they leave the brooder. She asked us to evaluate a coop she found for sale, and that leads us to the broader question for today: how do you evaluate a chicken coop before you buy it?
Size of the Coop
The first thing we look at it is the size. Start by ignoring any occupancy claims made by the coop builder, as they are often exaggerated.
Remember that you should provide a minimum of four square feet per bird in the coop and ten square feet per bird in the run (for full size chickens). For each section, simply multiply the width times the depth to get the square footage.
Another thing to look at is the layout. How functional is it for your needs? How easy is it to get the eggs out of the nesting box? How easy is it to fill the feeders and waterers?
Construction & Materials
Another thing to look at is the overall construction of the coop. Avoid coops that use chicken wire, as it provides poor protection against predators. Look for hardware cloth instead.
How Cute is It?
The last thing we look at is how nice the coop looks. Not that this is unimportant, but you don’t want the cuteness to override your decision making in the other areas. This should be a pretty easy one to figure out. Just ask yourself, “Will I be proud to have the neighbors see it in my back yard?”