Tag Archives: ducks

The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens Series, Part 3

26 Apr

This week, I combined the two different breeds of chicks into the one large pen. The Barred Plymouth Rock Chicks quickly outgrew their little tote abode and were in need of more space. At 4 weeks old, they were beefy enough to be able to at least defend themselves against the larger Golden Laced Wyandotte. For those of you that aren’t familiar with keeping chickens, combining different aged chicks can be slightly dangerous because there is literally a pecking order. The older birds are familiar with each other so pecking of each other is limited to the head lady wanting to eat, drink, or perch somewhere specific. Currently, they are still figuring out their pecking order, but live pretty nicely together. The new chicks? They are basically viewed at outsiders and can be pecked to death by other birds if they don’t learn their place and learn it pretty fast.

So, in order to lessen the hazards, I gingerly dropped the younger birds in with the older while the older ones were distracted in a corner eating lettuce. It seemed to work pretty well. There was pecking by one bird who seems to be the bully of the group, but she was easily chased off when we tapped her on her rear with a stick when she seemed to be getting too aggressive. If this behavior keeps up I’ll separate her from the group and put her in a sort of isolation for a day or two to drop her down a couple pegs in the chicken hierarchy.

But that all said, the birds are doing wonderful. They are growing, their feathers are coming in, and everyone seems healthy. The ducks are HUGE! Well, one duck specifically. The other lady is big, but she’s dwarfed by her giant-sized sister. It’s amazing how something that fit in the palm of my hand 6 weeks ago now requires a 2 hand hold on her midsection to keep her still.

Over the next couple of weeks we will start building the chicken coop. We’ve got the metal roofing on order and the hubs thinks he has finalized his design plan. There will be a fenced in run for them to mingle in with a human sized door so the hubs and I can get in and let the ladies out in the morning. Stay tuned for photos of the coop in progress!

*A note to those of you new to keeping chickens about combining different aged birds/breeds – You have to be careful when doing this not only for the pecking, but for the chance of disease being spread. Make sure to read up on ways to combine your old and new flock to avoid losing any of your birds. I did not have to worry about this as my chicks all came from the same hatchery, so they would all have been exposed to the same type of environment and “germs”. Any dormant “germs” they carry won’t affect any of the other chicks since they all come from the same place. I am no expert, so consult the experts. My knowledge is if they are not from the same hatchery, there  needs to be a quarantine period before old and new can cohabitate.

The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens Series, Part 2

4 Apr

On March 19, the hubs brought home 6 Golden Laced Wyandotte Chicks and 2 Mallard ducklings. (Read the original post here). Two weeks later, the chicks have doubled in size and their feathers are coming in! Right now, they are looking a little scraggly because they are losing that soft, downy chicken fluff to replace it with full, beautiful feathers. Since we got what was called a straight run of chicks, I’ve been scouring the internet to see if there was a way to determine the sex of the chicks before they were full-grown. Turns out you can supposedly check their wings. Males will have straight even wings, while females with have uneven wings. Based on this theory, we have 2 roosters in the Wyandotte clan.

Since we wanted to have about a 6 females total, we decided to purchase another 6 chicks for our new flock. This time we got Barred Plymouth Rock chicks, which will be black and white when full-grown. They will also be a large breed chicken so they will be hearty for winter. And again it seems like we’ve got 2 males in the flock. Sigh. The hubs is going to make them dinner. No boys allowed (except maybe a Mallard!) in this hen-house.

Onto the ducks! The Mallards have tripled in size in the span of two weeks! And they actually got to take their very first swim in our bathtub. It was so entertaining watching them motor around the bathtub. Totally natural event though it was their first time! They still need to learn the whole treading water thing since they keep swimming the whole time, but they did great!

We are in the process of planning out our chicken coop. We want our flock to be cozy while allowing us to easily clean and maintain it. There will be a penned in run for the birds as we are still unsure whether to let them roam completely free while we are at work. We will definitely be letting them forage and scratch when we are home. Luckily for us, the breeds we purchased are good with being left in a caged run environment.

Stay tuned for more about our newest additions and the progress we are all making cohabitating together!