Eggs, eggs and more eggs… No more eggs

So, the other day we got well over a dozen eggs. Then yesterday we didn’t get any! Then today, so far, we got one. I had heard that chickens stop laying for a couple of months toward the end of the year; well, I guess it is true.

The molting process has begun. Shorter days and cooler temperatures…For chickens, it’s a sign that it is time to renew their feathers. Losing feathers and re-growing them is called molting and occurs every year when the days get shorter.

So, here’s what we’ve learned…

During molt, chickens typically stop laying eggs and use this time to build up their nutrient reserves. Even though they are not laying, it is critical that your chickens have a high quality diet during this time.

Feeding a high quality ration during molt will help your birds get through the molting process and back to laying eggs as quickly as possible. Elevated levels of protein as well as a mix of vitamins, minerals and amino acids will help maintain healthy skin and develop strong and beautiful new feathers.
Top tips for feeding through the molt:

  • Feed a high protein feed that is a complete feed, so you don’t have to worry about feeding other protein supplements to feed along with layer feed during molt.
  • Make feed available free choice
  • Limit scratch to 10% of diet during molt so you don’t dilute the protein content of the rationHen Scratch Grains Illustration

Molting and growing new feathers requires a lot of energy. Feathers are 85% protein… so be sure your birds’ diet includes a highly nutritious feed that consists of at least 16% protein.

Just as your chickens have individual personalities, they will go through molt differently as well. Some lose a few feathers and grow them back in as quickly as 3-4 weeks. Other chickens lose a lot of feathers and take 12-16 weeks to grow them back.

Other tips for helping chickens get through molting:

  • Reduce stress as much as possible, avoid bringing new birds into the flock if possible
  • Chickens should act normal during their molt – if they seem sick, something else is wrong
  • Both roosters and hens go through molt
  • Avoid handling your chickens during molt, it is painful for them and increases stress

Chickens will lose feathers in a sequence starting with the head and neck and then down the back, across the breast and thighs and finally their tail feathers. The new feathers that emerge are called pinfeathers and will grow in following the same sequence they were lost.

So don’t panic when your chickens start losing their feathers and stop laying eggs. Molting is a normal and natural process of shedding feathers and re-growing them that all chickens go through. The best thing you can do to help your chickens through molt is to feed a high quality, high protein layer feed and lots of love.

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O’Possum

So the others morning, bright and early, I heard a bunch of noise outside my window- it startled me awake. Then I heard the chickens. I jumped up and ran to the back door, I was kind of hesitant since we were told there’s been a coyote around- but I looked out and didn’t see anything large and the chickens were flying out of the coop one crazy bird at a time. I was so scared to open the nesting area but wanted to make sure all of the chickens were out. I opened the front access and there was an opossum. When I knew for sure all of the chicks were out, I locked the opossum in the coop… I didn’t want to let it out since it was still dark and I was afraid it would go after the chicks again (and I couldn’t find one.) 

When I came inside I couldn’t go back to sleep right away so I started researching opossums and chickens. Here is what we learned about opossums:

  • They do kill chickens. Sometimes they just bite their necks and drink their blood! Usually they eat the chickens bum first. They eat eggs and chicks…. They will eat anything and everything so don’t leave anything out and keep your property clean.
  • They don’t carry their prey away, it’s left where they kill it. 
  • They can open standard coop locks.  I read to put nails behind the sliding/hinge locks so they can’t be pushed open. Raccoons are much better at this. 
  • It’s a marsupial, like a kangaroo they carry their young in a pouch.
  • They do not carry rabies nor other diseases, their body temp is too hot. I did not fact check this.
  • They hunt until just before sunrise. 
  • If you have a fenced yard and a dog, the poop will attract them. Opossums literally will eat anything. I read multiple times not leave any food/water out at night.
  • They travel solo unless they have babies.

When the sun rose we went outside for Beau to see the opossum, and to my total surprise-the main entrance of the coop was open and the opossum was gone!

When Beau got out of school we proceeded to the Tractor Supply Store. We got 3 more nesting boxes, feed, meal worms, a scoop and a water bucket for the yard. Then we came home and cleaned, rearranged and rigged the coop (along with the rabbits’ house.) I couldn’t get the chickens to go in the coop at dusk so I had to catch them one at a time LOL. It took a while. The first one I out in went crazy and got out, but she calmed down. I had some calming alfalfa hay that we put in each of the boxes. I think everyone slept well, definitely no unwanted intruder in the coop 🙏 prayers the chicks get in the coop on their own tonight since they were safe last night. 

We disnt use the 409, but B was so cute how he came out sonprepared to help. I dont know where he found thise gloves LOL, I dont clean like that 💕
You can see the screws we used to keep the locks from being opened 👌
The top part is the nesting area. We added 3 nesting boxes below, hoping to make the coop more comfortable. Theres room for one more box, so we will be getting one more. Our chickens have never been caged, but I dont feel comfortable not locking them up at night now. We open the coop at 6am and they free range all day 💓

BeauCoop’s Official Website is Coming Soon!

The website will be up and running in the next day or so http://www.beau-coop.org A lot is happening at Beau•coop so be sure to come back and take a peep.

Lizard, It’s What’s for Lunch

All of a sudden one of the chickens was running around crazy in the yard. We couldn’t figure out what she was doing, and then…


We saw the lizard, and down it went! 

Bleu, an Early Birthday Gift

I broke down and decided to get Beau a rabbit for his 5th birthday. I also decided to get one a little early, April 30 2016. 

I found a few ads on Craigslist and called a few people. We ended up driving out to a little shop in Ellenton and then going to a place up the road from the shop where the rabbits were. 

Bleu is a Lionhead rabbit. He was about 4 months old when Beau got him, so born in January 2016. 

The Chicks Are Growing Up

They are getting so big and full. It’s interesting to see how the different breeds have changed. We are leaving them out all day, everyday now until my they decide to go to bed in the upstairs of the coop – the nesting area. Hey are about 2 months now. It doesn’t appear that we have any roosters and all of the chicks are still alive and kickin’ 🙏🏻   

Grey Gardens
Their Favorite Hang Out
Beau, one of our 1st chicks and Bleu 🐰
Beau and his favorite chick, the red one 🐔

Shake Your Tail Feather (4/5/16)

This post is a little late, but (no pun intended) the pics were so cute we had to share. The pics were taken April 5, 2016. We should have taken the pics after we cleaned under the coop, which we had to do daily (btw.) When the chicks started getting their tail feathers…

The yellow chicks are a few days older than the other 7 chicks.
Americauna, no tail feathers yet- but super cute!
Just the beginning 1
Just the beginning 2
When they drink, they always put their head up like this.
We had to over expose this photo to show the li’l black tail.

Welcome to the Farm House Chicks

Beau putting the chicks in the coop. He was insisting on putting them in the nesting area, instead of on the ground.

The chicks went straight to the heat lamp.

Day 1

It was a very busy day for us! We started at the Tractor Supply Store when they opened to purchase the chicken coop. We decided on a Producer’s Pride coop, the Farm House model (see pictures.) then we went to Parrish General Supply to see what chicks they got in, they didn’t have any the other day. Today they had Golden Sex Links and Delawares, we ended up with 4 Goldens (instead of two! Lol.) A lot of stores get “hatchery’s choice” so they never know what they are going to get until they arrive. These chicks came from New Mexico and are a couple of days old. A few other things we had to get: medium food and water bowls ($13), premium pine shavings (they are smaller $8), heat lamp ($9, already had the casing) and organic grower crumbles ($13.)

Parrish General Supply

 

Checking out with 4 new family members 💗

 

Picking out “two” Golden chicks 💕

 

Beau and the “chick crate.”

We finally got home and put the coop together. It was very easy and didn’t take long. We set it up next to the shed in the yard; however, we had to move it closer to the house since the chicks were not warm enough (and we live in Florida.) So, for the next couple of weeks the coop will be on the back patio with the heat lamp (see pictures.)

The hutch pieces

 

The front run area pieces

The completed “Farm House” chicken coop…

 

Zoe, Beau’s best friend .

 

Zoe is a French Bulldog, so this will give you a grat scale for size.

A view feom the top, prior to putting the roof on.

 

The nesting area, prior to attaching the roof.

After we relocated the coop next to the house…

Everyone checking out the new location.

 

Underneath the nesting area and the heat lamp.