At first I did a lot of research and decided that I was going to order 15 barred rocks from a hatchery in PA. I was ordering the ones that would be born and shipped to me immediately. I was so excited. After a two month wait for my baby chicks I got a phone call to go pick them up at the post office. I went immediately. All 15 were still living and they were tiny!
After much ewing and awing over the baby chicks they seemed happy to be home finally. They were instantly aware of how to eat and drink. There was one that was much smaller than the rest and even though I babied her, she didn’t make it through the first night. That is normal though, in shipment of any animals you lose usually 10% because it a stress to the animal and some just can’t handle that stress. So 14 chicks and I was babying them the whole time. They had a brooder set up that they lived in and I would take them out into the grass during the day. Of course under my supervision always!
Except one time. I left them outside long enough to come inside to use the bathroom and when I went back outside, a hawk was nearby and 2 baby chicks were missing. I was furious and the chicks were so scared. They huddled up on my shirt close to me and ready to be taken back inside.
I had gotten the chicks at the end of May. In June the weather was getting very hot so at 2 weeks of age they began to live in their coop. They loved it! During the day I let them into the run and during the night they stayed locked in the coop. They were doing really well.
Then on several occasions when I wasn’t right at home, but at my moms, somebody would tell me how there was a neighbor stopped by my house. I’d come straight home but she wasn’t here and I’d be missing a chicken or 2. There were never any feathers or signs of any attacks. You couldn’t ever see any forced entry into the coop either. I had to eventually call the cops, which is when it all came to a stop, unfortunately it took 4 chickens in one day to go missing and the cops talked to her and told me they believe she was releasing them into the wild because that’s how animals should live, not locked up, according to what she had stated. There was no proof though that she had ever taken any so there really wasn’t anything they could do. They advised me to use cameras to try to catch her.
I had 6 chickens left at this point and was very upset. So we went to get more baby chickens from the local farm supply store, Rural King. I got another 20 chicks the second weekend of July. They consisted of Barred Rocks, Light Brahmas, and Black Australorps. The woman at the store said that they were about a week and a half or 2 weeks old. I got them set up right away with the brooder and same conditions as the last ones. I lost 4 within the next 2 days. The first 2 seemed to be due to the stress of moving. The next two were lost due to Bloody Butts and blocked air ducts that I didn’t catch right away. Instantly I knew why so many people refuse to buy from stores and only from hatcheries.
The next weekend after getting the new chickens, Zach and I walked outside on Saturday morning and smelt skunks really bad. We walked over to the chicken coop and realized something had forced their way into the coop through the chicken’s door. There were obvious struggles because there were piles of feathers and it was not only in the coop but in the run. The poor chickens had all tried to make a run for it and protect themselves but none got out alive. There were no carcasses and despite walking the pastures and fields surrounding the house we came up empty handed.
Zach decided this was not going to keep occurring. He set 2 box traps and we were quickly catching possums and raccoons. We then went a couple nights without trapping anything and decided it was finally safe, this was into August, to relocate the new chickens into their chicken coop. The 16 chickens were enjoying their new home. They would spend time outside and inside. Then we had a chicken go missing. No feathers, no carcass, and this was through the night. Zach being a trapper and hunter decided it must be a weasel. All signs lead to a weasel. We had taken a lot of precautionary measures and now have 12 chickens that enjoy the coop and live very happily. We aren’t sure if there are coyotes or foxes around. We still set the box traps every night to help protect our chickens. We are definitely working hard at keeping them alive. They are currently 3 months old and growing. They took very well to Josie and she took to them just as well. She loves her daily walks to see them.
Back to Chickens Part 1: Building the Coop
Stay Tuned For:
Chickens Part 3: Getting to Know the Chickens and Herbs for Chickens
Chickens Part 4: Family Ties into chicken farming