And finally the much anticipated “chooks” part of my url have joined our family. Our school’s after school care programme had some eggs/chickens for a few weeks. Of course as soon as my kids got home the first question was if we could have some, and since we will very, very, very soon be moving into our own home and garden, and had been planning on chickens anyway, I said yes. We picked them up yesterday.
I chose two Australorps (the black ones) and two Lohmons (the caramel ones). I was only going to get two chicks but since they are unsexed (we don’t know if they’re male or female) and we cannot keep roosters in Brisbane, a farmer friend advised I get four to improve the odds of having at least two hens among the batch — a single hen would pine if we had to separate the two and it would be harder to introduce a new bunch of hens or chickens without the risk of her being picked on.
I’ve set them up in a large plastic packing crate (I ended up buying a bigger one to give more floor area) lined with an old towel, paper towels and wood shavings for absorbency, with a desk lamp (53W bulb) for warmth. It’s early spring in sub-tropical Brisbane here, so it’s not very cold but last night I put their box in the bathroom with the overhead heat lamp on instead for extra warmth. They have a feeder and a water container and I put in a stick for them to practice roosting.
The Lohmons are older than the Australorps who have obviously decided they are their mummies and have attached themselves to one each. If we take a Lohmon out of the box, the associated Australorp will cheep for her. (We’re calling them all ‘her’ at this stage out of wishful thinking – hopefully they are not all roosters!).
My son is smitten while my daughter is a little hesitant around them (maybe for the best that she’s not super confident about just picking them up!), but we are trying to give all of them cuddles evenly so they are comfortable being handled and get used to us. The older Lohmons who have been handled a lot more at after school care are quite comfortable being held. I’ve got to say watching them is a bit addictive!
Henny Penny Hatching who supplied the chicks supplied us with a chicken starter kit – plastic feed and water containers, feed and wood shavings as well as an informative information sheet to help care for the chickens. I’ve scoped out the local pet shops and I can get chicken supplies there, but I’ll buy a coop online.
I’ve also been reading a lot online – pinterest is a great source of helpful hints and clever ideas – but I’ve also borrowed some books from our library. A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens by Melissa Caughey is really good, and we’ve also been using The Chicken Whisperer’s Guide to Keeping Chickens by Andy G. Schneider and Dr. Brigid McCrea.
How to Raise Baby Chicks from the Happy Money Saver Blog is a great primer. Check out my pinterest board for more helpful resources on raising backyard chickens!
Our next step will be setting up a coop and run for them at the new house. We have BIG plans. This is such a learning curve for us, follow along with us on this exciting new journey!