I finally finished building my two new yuppie A-frame poultry houses a few weekends ago. I made one for chickens, with nest boxes and doors in the back for collecting eggs. The other one is just a plain night house. The two new houses are on the left, fully roofed; and the older, half-wire house is on the right.
I have the five duck hatchlings growing in the half-wire house. I bought some day-old Rhode Island Red chicks at the local feed store. I considered mail-ordering some, but have read a lot of the hatcheries are back-ordered quite a bit, and I was convinced I only needed a few. The feed store’s order was arriving right after I finished the houses.
I figured I only wanted about a dozen chickens, max, but asked for fifteen, figuring on some mortality. After I paid, the cashier said, “oh, you qualify for six free chicks based on the amount you spent today.” Ok, so now I have 21 chickens, and naturally, zero mortality! I think once you get them out of that mass-production environment into a roomy, warm pen with very accessible food and water, their individual odds of survivial go way up. Plus, I got there soon after their order had arrived, so got “fresh” chicks, and picked the most vigorous ones. I kept them in the house for the first several days until they were well established.
This was a pullet order, but I’m sort of hoping there will be a screw-up and at least one rooster in there, as I’d like fertile eggs. If not, I can buy one later. But these gals are a start, this fall, we should be able to start enjoying fresh chicken eggs, to augment the duck eggs. When they get a little bigger, I’ll teach them to range during the day, but go back into their house at night.