I got the first of my chick shipments from Meyer Hatchery week before last. (Sorry, it’s been very busy at the office these last few weeks).
The chicks were delivered by the US Postal Service. Yep, that’s how it works. The eggs incubate for 21 days, and just before they hatch, the chicks adsorb the last of the egg yolk. This gives them sufficient nutrients to survive for 2-3 days without food or water. During this time, day old chicks (and other fowl) can be shipped through the mail. Fed Ex, UPS, and other private carriers will not transport livestock.
Obliviously, the trip is stressful to the chicks, so it is better to get your chicks locally, from a farmer you trust. Maybe I’ll be that farmer in the future? We don’t know anyone locally yet, and more importantly, we didn’t have the property for chickens during ‘chick days’ at the feed store. So, I got hatchery chicks. Not the best choice, but a start nonetheless.
Because it is so stressful, it’s a good idea to have everything ready for when they arrive. Make sure they’ve water, food and a heat source all set up and warm. I had assumed I’d keep the chicks in a plastic bin the Farmhouse for a week or two, before going to the brooder we built from wood salvaged from the Farmhouse demo. But as always, I forgot how quickly they grow!
We spent the weekend repairing a water line and cleaning the barn so they could be moved to the brooder. We pulled about a ton of 10 year old round hay bales from the hayloft with a rope tied to the hitch on my jeep. That was fun even if a bit dusty. We also removed a fair amount of trash, power washed the walls and concrete floors, and hit everything with a diluted bleach solution. Hopefully we’ve evicted all the rodents and whatever else vermin were living in there! The swallows, however, are very persistent and had their nests built again by Monday morning.
Meanwhile, next on the to-do list is creating a chicken coop from one of the existing sheds on the property. As a shed or a chicken coop, it is entirely too close to the house, so we’re gonna move it. Then we’ll fashion it into a chicken coop with windows, nest boxes, and a roost. The whole endeavor is likely to be very interesting, but I’m looking forward to it.We have a bit of time before the ladies will outgrow the brooder, but we’ll probably get started next weekend.
If you’re considering chickens, I highly recommend it. They’re loads of fun, and if you like eggs, nothing beats a fresh one from a free range hen. They taste like butter! I must warn you though, chickens are addicting, gateway farm animals. Not long after my first six hens started laying, I wanted more chickens. Then,once I’d gotten more chickens, I started thinking about goats and pigs. Now I have 12 acres in the country. Things escalated quickly.
Until next time, I leave you with a photo of a few of my illegal Virginia Beach chickens.