Too many roosters

I cannot believe out of six eggs, five turned out to be roosters.
The sad thing is I am having such a difficult time re-homing them.  I listed them on Craigslist for sale and then decided I just need to be rid of them because the five I hatched out six weeks later have two roosters in there, too.

Sadly, after two weeks, no one wants them.  If I were more of a “Homesteader” I could kill them and eat them but that does not appeal to me or my husband.  Actually, we only like the breasts and I hate to see the rest of the meat go to waste.  His sisters live behind us so I guess I could check and see if they like dark meat.  I guess if we were desperate for food, we would eat all of the chicken.

My third hatching of six chicks are still undetermined.  They are Silkie/Cochen rooster mix and they are adorable.  Hopefully, I can have more luck finding homes for Bantam roosters.  Last time I sold Bantam roosters, they were gone in a week.

Odorless chicken houses

OMG, I cannot believe the difference the wood chips or shaving make in my chicken houses.  I used straw a lot in the past thinking it is good compost material.  I just rake the chips out and put in my compost if I start to smell any odor at all.  Or sometimes I add a little more chips if I don’t have the time to clean the house out.

I went to my daughter’s house and her chicken houses were loaded down with the wood chips, six or eight inches.  She said you just take a pitch fork and flip it over as you see poop on top.

There is literally no smell even during the hot summer months.  You will love it.

Chickens love grass clippings

Most of my chickens are free range but not my Silkies.  There are way too many chicken hawks in our area and we have seen them sitting in nearby trees just waiting to get our babies.  lol

We have a septic tank and drain fills.  The grass grows so beautifully over the drain fills and much thicker than the rest of the yard.  When my husband mows that area, I always take the clippings to the Silkies so they get fresh green grass (and bugs more than likely) to eat.

We have a compost bin so the rest of the grass clipping go in there along with the chicken manure that I rake out weekly.

Planning your chicken yard

I knew from the beginning that I was going to want to have chickens as soon as my husband and I moved onto our two acres.  After getting all the Pine trees cut down, we started planting trees we wanted on our property.  We left any Oak, Mimosa, and Maple trees where they were.   Our property was not fenced at the time either.

The property next to us was wooded so we gradually took small trees off that property and planted on ours.  If anyone was to move onto the property next door, the land would have to be cleared and all the trees would be lost.

I knew I wanted my chickens in the back left-hand corner of our property which had a lot of shady Oak trees along the property line which we shared with my sister-in-law.  We planted trees in that area right away to get some shade started for the chickens.   Our summer months in Florida are sooooo hot and shade and plenty of cool water is important for the chickens.

We planted Oak, Crepe Myrtle, Mimosa, Maple and Elm.  I must admit, the Elm are the best if you need shade right away.  I am amazed at how big those trees got so quickly.  We planted them probably six years ago and they have already passed the Oak and Maple trees.

I planted only two trees inside the chicken yard.  If you plant on the east and west sides of your property, the shadow of the trees will keep your yards shaded.  But a couple of trees on the inside will make shade when the sun is directly above.

I told my husband from the beginning, we need to plant trees.  The bushes and flowers and yard can improve and grow much faster than the trees do.  And you can find FREE small trees along roads, especially if you live near or out in the country.

We bought some Leland Cypress trees that we planted along the back of our property for privacy but a few of them have died.  I think the cedar are much hardier.  We originally paid 2.25 for them at the flea market many years ago but Walmart recently had some for 5 bucks so we replaced some of the trees that had died out for some reason.

So, I also had a friend who had cedar trees in his yard and I dug up six inch trees from his yard.  My sister in NC also had cedar trees in her yard.  I used the trees as privacy fences between my neighbors on all three sides of my property.  We also planted them along the front of our property on the easement.  We live on a dead end road and the electrical lines are on the other side of the road.

I am going to put an ad on Craigslist to see if anyone has small cedar trees on their property that I can dig up.

Twenty years later, our chickens have a little paradise.  We have a swing next to the chicken yards and the it is also shaded by trees we planted.  It is peaceful to sit there with a cup of coffee.  And no, there is no odor.  That will be another post.

Baby chicks during the winter

I love baby chicks and was very excited when a couple of my Silkie hens were broody in December.  Because I didn’t want more bantam chickens right now, I put six Barred Rock eggs under one hen.

I have learned from experience that it is best to separate the broody hen and her eggs from the rest of the flock but you really have to wait until the hen is dedicated to the eggs.

Because the dark brown eggs were much larger than the bantam eggs, I knew if another hen laid an egg in the broody nest, I could remove it and be sure I was not removing an egg that was starting to grow into a chick.  So I left the broody hen and her eggs in her normal setting for a week.

Then I moved her to a 4×8 chain link cage and put water and food in there.  I read it is best to move the hen during the evening.  It keeps her from wanting to get up since it is time for bedding down.

She hatched out six healthy, adorable chicks on December 28th, 2015.   I put a heat lamp inside the cage and closed the cage with a tarp on three sides.  With had a couple cold nights but I knew the mom would keep those chicks warm but still…..  Ha ha.

After the chicks were two weeks old, I let them out to wander around in the 25×25 ft yard.  I have netting over the top to keep those pesky chicken hawks out.  I had to put some small holed fencing around the edge of the fence (3 ft tall) on the inside to keep the babies from going through the 2×4 inch fencing.

Now, I have another hen sitting on seven Barred Rock eggs and they are due to hatch February 9th.

I had to put the second broody hen in the 4×8 cage after a week so then I had to figure out how to make a safe place for the babies and mom to sleep during the night.  I made a closed in shelter for them but at night, I lock them up in a small cage inside their shelter.  It took two nights of catching the mom and chicks before mom realized that is where she needed to sleep. I just don’t trust that some smart predator won’t find a way thru the netting and fencing and eat my babies for a late night snack.

So right now, the mom and her six chicks are in the same yard with the second mom but she is enclosed in the 4×8 cage.  Her chicks will be ready to come out into the yard by the 23rd so the first chicks hatched will be almost 8 weeks.  I will have the first mom taken away from her chicks by then and have another divider fence up so the two sets of chicks can share the same protected area.  I have learned from experience not to let two hens around baby chicks.  I had two moms fighting over the chicks and two of the chicks were killed.

I don’t know yet what I will do with the roosters.  It seems pretty hard to sell the roosters.  We have thought about eating the roosters but we only like white meat and it is a lot of trouble for half a chicken.  There is an advertisement that says they will take any free farm animals and I am pretty sure they eat them.  I have to get rid of the roosters before I get attached to them and name them.

I really hate to have the roosters in with my hens unless I want them to fertilize the eggs.  Some hens make so much noise when the rooster is trying to mate with them and I just feel such sympathy for them.  It is like being raped.  So, now I have the roosters separated from then hens which makes for more fencing, more housing and feed for animals that are not giving anything back.  What to do?  Ha ha

I have to be careful with the chicks hatching because that’s how I ended up with 120 chickens a few years ago.  I was selling chickens and eggs back then.  I am more interested in keeping it small and just trying to have eggs for us to be more self-sufficient and eating healthier food.