Our New Aquaponic Chickens…

After visiting with one of her friends, Kim called me and announced, “We’re getting Silkies!”  I had no idea what she was talking about; then she explained that her friend just bought two baby Silkie chickens.  She said they’re supposed to be the friendliest and most gentle chicken, and are a great pet for kids.

I didn’t know much about Silkies, but I have been very interested in getting Ameraucanas (aka, Easter Eggers).  They are supposed to lay a lot of multi-colored eggs and the hens are very quiet, so they shouldn’t bother the neighbors.  Since our neighbors are our friends, we’d like to keep it that way.  Maybe a dozen eggs every once in a while might help keep everyone happy.

Within a couple of hours, Kim returned home with three Silkies and six Ameraucanas.  The Silkies came from an individual in a nearby town ($4.00 each) and the Ameraucanas came from Tractor Supply ($1.99 each).  Kim intended to buy two or three of each, but the person at Tractor Supply said the law required everyone to buy six at a time.  I guess they’re trying to prevent children from buying one chick with their allowance or keep parents from buying a chick as an Easter present.

Most of our chicks are about three days old, but one of the Silkies is a month old and larger than the others.  They definitely act like little kids.  They run around and play with each other, and then the smaller ones gather around the larger one, burrowing under her wings and tail, almost knocking her off-balance as she stands guard.  They must think she’s their mother and she must like all the heat they are providing.

Actually, I don’t know which ones are male or female, but we only want hens, so we’ll refer to all of them as “her” and “she” until we learn otherwise.  We just found out that we could have paid a couple of dollars more for “sexed” Ameraucanas to improve the odds of getting all hens, but the young lady that helped Kim didn’t mention it at the time and now it’s too late.  That’s OK, since we really don’t need nine chickens we’ll just sell the males as soon as they reveal themselves.  Hopefully they’re not all males.

We are also calling them our aquaponic chickens, because we plan to mostly feed them with food we grow in the aquaponic system, if that’s possible.  To be perfectly honest, we really don’t know what we’re doing, but we are learning fast.  Hopefully we don’t make any big mistakes that cause the chickens to suffer.  I’ve been re-reading “A Chicken in Every Yard: The Urban Farm Store’s Guide to Chicken Keeping” by Robert Litt as fast as I can to make sure we do everything right.  If you have any suggestions, please let us know.  We are open to any advice from experienced chicken keepers.

Here are some photos of our new chickens.  We’re keeping them in a 2′ x 4′ oval stock tank that is 2′ high and filled with about two inches of pine shavings, a one-quart water fountain filled with tap water and a little sodium ascorbate powder (i.e., Vitamin C to dechlorinate the water and enhance their immune system), a chick feeder filled with Manna Pro Medicated Chick Starter and Farmers’ Helper UltraKibble for Chicks, some untreated boards to climb on, and a brooder lamp with a 250w infra-red light bulb (not shown in photo) to keep them warm and give them some light at night without keeping them awake when they’re tired.

Somehow they’re getting pine shavings in their feed and water, so we put the water fountain on top of a board to make it more difficult to kick the shavings in the water and we clean out the feeder once a day before adding more feed.

Here is the one month old Silkie with the smaller chicks…

They are always hungry and thirsty.  One of them was able to push its way through one of the openings in the feeder and crawl around in the feed for a while before scurrying back out.  They also like to climb on top of the feeder and look around.  It reminds me of our three-year-old son when he climbs on top of me and says, “Look at me daddy.  I’m a big boy.”

These two are buddies.  According to the people we bought them from, the one on the left is an Ameraucana and the one on the right is a Silkie.

Here is a close-up of the one month old Silkie…

Here’s one of the smaller Silkies.  The other one is white.

Here is an Ameraucana chick…

And here is our son’s bug vacuum.  Last night we vacuumed up a spider and put it in with the chickens.  It quickly hid in the pine shavings as soon as we dropped him in.  I hope one of the chicks enjoyed their snack.

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115 Responses to Our New Aquaponic Chickens…

  1. Good to know someone else is learning about birds “on the fly”! Hope you enjoy your chickens as much as we are enjoying our little turkeys.

  2. AmySue says:

    Thanks for your all your replies- I really appreciate hearing what people think.
    Love your post- chicks are great fun. I have both Silkies and an Ameraucan. I pick up new chicks next month from a local hatchery. I ordered sexed hens this time, but still it is not 100% guarantee.
    Boy oh boy I hope you get all hens and don’t end up like me with a hand full of those rotten roosters:)
    A great on-line source of information BackYard Chickens. http://www.backyardchickens.com/.

  3. Great post! We have two Silkie hens…the kids call them rock stars and ravers because of their funky feathers. Great eggs, very friendly. When you need to catch one though…wow, what a set of vocal cords! Enjoy. :)

  4. Ken Wallace says:

    We would love to have chickens, but our darling welsh terrier would find them irresistible prey!

    • I know what you mean. I’m as little concerned about our Australian Shepherd and Akita, but so far they are all getting along.

    • We have two terrier crosses and, despite their initial interest in our chickens, they are now fine with them. Max, our terrier x lhasa apso, completely ignores them and will even let them peck about around him whilst he’s snoozing; even Sam, our terrier x collie, can be trusted to mix with them under supervision. It just took some firm direction for a few months.

      • That’s amazing how dogs can get so comfortable around the chicks so quickly. So far Abbie, our Akita, ignores the chicks just like Max does, but Emma, our Australian Shepherd, has assumed the motherly role. She peeps when the chicks peep, and insists on sleeping in the garage with them every night. When I take the cover off the brooder, a few of the chicks fly to the top and perch on the edge. One of them even jumps in my lap. So cute. Emma sniffs them as she peeps and they just look at her like she’s one of their best friends. All of our pets are so therapeutic.

  5. Megan says:

    Congratulations on the new chicks!

  6. Joanna says:

    Aren’t they adorable? Every day I inch a little closer to buying some hens. Posts like this put me near the tipping point!

  7. They are so cute! Thanks for liking my poem The Shack. Now I may have to change my plans and just live on eggs and veg!

  8. Venessa says:

    Congrats on your new clutch!!! You will have lots of eggs…well if they are all hens that is! I purchased sexed ones for $3 here. Supposed to be 90% accurate but it’s all a wait and see. They grow so darn fast! Be sure to take pictures every week because you won’t believe your eyes!

  9. thebeadden says:

    I have been following your blog for a while now and thought it was about time I commented on how much I like reading about your new adventure into aquaponic gardening.

    I passed on a blogging award to you:

    http://thebeadden.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/i-won-i-won/

  10. We have Ameraucanas too, along with naked neck turkens, light brahmas, rhode island reds, among others. We sell our eggs at the local food co-op and they’re quite popular. People really get a kick out of opening a box of our eggs and seeing the blue, green and light pink eggs. I’m also in the process of finding 100 different ways to cook them too! I make a lot of quiche and custards.
    I love our chickens, I can watch them for hours on end. We use an egg layer mix because they need the nutrients in order to keep the shells strong, but I also supplement their diet with veggie scraps. They all come running over when I walk in with the bag of lettuce, tomato, celery, carrots, etc. They also need protein too, so when I’m weeding in the garden and come across from grubs I make sure I give them to my girls as a treat.
    Good luck in your chicken endeavors! We’re certainly enjoying ours.

    • Your chickens are beautiful. Thank you for your comment. You’ve given me a lot to think about. My wife and I were just talking about the food we can feed the chickens, in addition to store-bought feed. We raise red wigglers and meal worms, and our yard is full of a variety of other protein sources. We can also give them most of our vegetable scraps. Our worms eat them too, but they are willing to share.

  11. Don’t worry too much about suffering chickens, they’re pretty resilient as long as they’re warm, fed, and watered. Seeing your feeder reminded me of the day we stopped using ours, when a 3 month old hen got her head stuck in one of the holes! According to my sister’s fiance, the army taught him that a chicken’s head comes off pretty easily in a food emergency (oh my, yuck!). Lesson learned: the feeder is for chicks. :)

    • I shouldn’t laugh, but visualizing that hen with her head stuck in the feeder was funny. My grandmother told me stories about living on a farm. She would go outside, grab a chicken, and wring its neck.It sounds disgusting and cruel, but she said it was a very humane way to go, even if the chicken runs around without its head.

  12. Sen says:

    You’ll never look back now you have some chickens! Nothing better than getting your own eggs and spending hours watching them. They’ll love the mealies and wrigglers you have too. All the best.

    Sen

    • We gave them a beetle that we caught with our son’s bug vacuum. It was hilarious. The large Silkie picked it up and then ran all over the brooder as the eight little ones chased her around. Eventually one of them grabbed one end of the beetle and took off with half of it. Lots of fun!

  13. magdave says:

    I think you’ll love your Amerucanas. The two we have, Edie and Henny, are very gentle birds. The former lays the blue eggs, while the latter produces light brown ones. Despite their overall gentleness, Edie does assert her position as Alpha bird, even over our rooster–she being tied for oldest and the most assertive amongst the birds. The only problem with these hens is that they aren’t as consistent a layer as, say, Rhode Island Reds or Plymouth Rocks.

    The funny thing about Plymouth Rocks is that their curiosity seems to be driven by their appetite–so don’t allow them entry inside your house or they will dine our your cat’s or dog’s chow. They do like being on the vanguard of food discovery. If they know where to find it, they will be there.

    BTW, thanks for visiting my blog.

    Ciao!
    –Dave E.

    • The first day they were here we put the big Silkie on our living room floor to see what she would do. Within five seconds she pooped on the rug. My wife gave me the “evil eye”, so I put the chick back in her brooder. That’s the last time we’ll let them back in the house.

      We may add a Rhode Island Red or two to our flock next year if all goes well with the Ameraucanas and Silkies. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.

  14. Yea, Chickens! I have always had Easter Eggers prior to my new batch. They are great, we had a pastel blue/green egg and a peach eggs everyday. It’s wonderfull. Hey, I frequently visit Craigslist in the category of farm/garden (and free) and have come across a aquaculture set up…so tempting!

  15. Eggkins says:

    Today, I received the “Liebster Blog Award” and I would like to pass the honor on to you. Please check out the details on my blog post http://wp.me/p2hr63-3v to accept and pass it on!
    Have an amazing day

  16. I think I would like to try a few chickens just not sure how the dogs would like them. Well I know the would like them I just don’t want them eating them…lol

    • Ours have been well behaved around the new chicks, but I don’t plan to leave them alone together anytime soon.

      • I think mine would be ok if I am out there with them. I ave a corgi /spaniel mix who would have a two piece snack box if I wasn’t watching. My very old Lab scoops up every bird that land in the yard and bring them to me. Wouldn’t hurt the chicks but would sure freak the little one out I bet. I think one of the movable coops is what I would need.

  17. lilbitfarms says:

    You have a great brooder set up for someone that is figuring it out as you go! We have a tendency to do the same thing – a few weeks ago we went to the feed store for chicken food and came home with three turkeys! Ah well, they sure are cute and they fit in fine with our newly hatched chickens. I highly recommend the chicken books Gail Damerow has written, especially the one on chicken health. It is overwhelming with the knowledge inside when read from cover to cover. I find for us, it is best used as a reference guide if we have any questions. I know many folks like the idea of non-medicated animals, but IMHO you are doing a good thing by giving them medicated starter. A farmer friend lost nearly half of more than a thousand chicks she started due to cocci because she wasn’t going to medicate them. But now we both agree, sometimes medicine is the right thing for the animals so that they don’t die a a miserable death. We have found the same is true for wormers. I lost several birds thinking that my organic feed with garlic and diatomaceous earth was going to protect them, but I was wrong :( It’s somewhat effective as a preventative but not at all if they already have worms. Valbazen turned out to be the best thing I have found for them, even better than Piperazine and Ivermectin. The appearance and behavior of a few of my birds did a near 180 degree change from Valbazen! It’s had to get and not cheap but I use Jeffers. I use them for almost all of my animal needs in fact. Really great prices and they should ship to you super-fast since they are in Alabama! BTW, I am a Georgia girl myself and I sure do miss home when I am hanging out on the windswept plains of Colorado! Can’t wait to read about more of your adventures!

    • Hi lilbitfarms! Thanks for sharing your knowledge. We have a number of Gail’s books in our Amazon shopping cart and will checkout as soon as we can afford it. We may just get the kindle versions to save a little money, even though I prefer an old fashion book in my hands.

      I found Valbazen on Jeffers’ website, but I couldn’t find anything’s about giving it to chickens, only cattle, sheep, and goats. Is there a special one for chickens?

      Here’s the one I found: http://www.jefferslivestock.com/valbazen/camid/liv/cp/16387/

      • lilbitfarms says:

        You will find that so much of what is useful for chickens is marketed for all those other animals. Probably because the companies don’t find it profitable to engage in testing dosages for chickens :( But as someone mentioned earlier, Backyardchickens.com is an excellent resource for finding the “off label” dose for the chooks. Make sure you read a fair number of posts because there might be a bit of conflicting info out there and you want to be able to decide for yourself what sounds good to you. And that is the right Valbazen. I tried giving each chicken a piece of bread soaked with the correct dosage (1/2 cc for full sized chicken) but they were being difficult so a squirt in the mouth with a tiny syringe (no needle of course!) worked great! http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/526151/valbazen-dose

      • I’ll bet they didn’t like that. We had to do the same thing for our son last week :-)

        Many thanks for this information. I really appreciate it.

  18. My son loves chickens…I learned a lot from this post that I can share with him!

  19. Oh so cute, good luck with all of your little ones. I have a few silkies; 2 Roosters and 1 hen, she is very sweet and docile. I also have New Hampshires, also very friendly and outgoing, 1 Rhode Island Red..she is more stand-offish, but sweet all the same. Enjoy.
    Jess

    • Thanks Jess! You have a nice selection of chickens. We’ll have to get different breeds when it’s time to add to our flock.

      Our largest Silkie just made a sound like the very beginning of a rooster crowing. That’s not a good sign if she is a he. They have all been a welcomed addition to our family, and our children have enjoyed watching these peeping little chicks many times a day, so it’s not going to be easy finding the roosters a new home.

  20. I adore my chickens. One follows us everywhere around the yard. She even lets us pick her up. We have to be careful we don’t step on her! We knew next to nothing about keeping chickens but they really are an easy animal to raise. Water, vegetable leavings, oyster shells, alfalfa pellets, heat lamp and clean bedding. That’s about it. Enjoy…they are adorable.

    • Thank you Beth! That makes me feel better.

      Last night I couldn’t sleep, so I checked on the chicks and watched them until most of them were asleep. Every time I thought they were all passed out, there was always one that ran around and woke up all the others. They were quite entertaining and relaxing.

  21. Jackie says:

    This is so fun! We have americaunas and they are such great chickens, not to mention the fun eggs. I’ve seen silkies and I know my kids would adore them but haven’t found a good source for them yet.

    • Hi Jackie! Our Ameraucanas are getting a little aggressive with each other. I’m not sure if they’re trying to establish a pecking order or if they’re just playing, but they’ll jump on top of each other and chase each other around many times a day. It can be entertaining, but I don’t want them to get hurt. Is this normal?

      Our kids love the Silkies, but we stopped letting them hold the chicks after we read that the CDC recommends that children under five should not handle chickens…something about Salmonella and immature immune systems. Our three-year-old son is not happy with us or the CDC right now.

      • Our local vet says everyone should just use good sanitation with chickens, wash well with anitbacterial soap after every time you handle them. I’m letting my 2 1/2 yr old and 4 1/2 yr old let them when I pick our little chickies up…but everyone has to assess the risks for themselves.

      • That makes sense. I tend to be a little overprotective at times. Better safe than sorry I suppose. Most likely they’ll all be playing together outside soon.

  22. The Big Wiggs says:

    Hey guys nice blog! I’ve been following you guys for a few weeks now and I really enjoy the content and all the pics.

    Please email me when you get a chance – this is landon from thebigwiggs.wordpress.com

    -landonwiggs88 [at] yahoo [dot] com

    thanks keep up the good work!
    Landon

  23. pixilated2 says:

    You will love your Silkys! Make sure you handle them A LOT when they are big enough to go out to the coop. Otherwise they will forget that they liked being held… ;) You are going to have so much fun! Thanks for visiting me today! ~ Lynda

    • Thanks for the advice. I’ve been feeding them meal worms by hand, and they love ‘em. Now they get excited when I get near the brooder. We’ll start holding them more as you suggested. The last time one of us held them, we got a surprise gift. :lol:

  24. jennyg82 says:

    Sooooo cute! Silkies are my next project….

  25. your new babies are beautiful! Looks like you have them in a stock tank? thats a great idea! we would need to cover it with mesh of some sort to prevent the cats from getting too friendly, but next time we do alot of chicks I think we will go that route. My husband is currently working on our own aquaponics system so hopefully I’ll have pictures and lots to blog about in the next month or so =)

    • Thanks! They look like they’ve doubled in size in the past week. We’ll have to post some new photos soon.

      We got the idea for the stock tank from Robert Litt’s excellent book, A Chicken in Every Yard. It been a comfortable home for them so far, but we should add a screen to the top soon. The larger Silkie is teaching herself how to fly.

      I look forward to reading about your new aquaponic system. They’re a lot of fun.

  26. AmySue says:

    Hey Aqua Family. I just read a post on Facebook that I thought you would like. From ‘Fresh Eggs Daily’–
    First time putting a bean bag in the brooder box….and I’m sorry I never did before. Every time I go in to check on the peeps, there’s someone sacked out on it. Oh, I have one of those rice eye pillows also, and yes warmed a bit in the microwave I bet would feel good for them ! I had read some put stuffed animals in with them, or feather dusters for them to snuggle up to and I had always kind of pooh-poohed the idea (I know, go figure, I’m the queen of crazy nutty things for the chickens !) but I had this wrist support thing we use on the mousepad and I thought they might like it.

    I’m going to give it a try when I get my chicks! Hope all is going well!!

  27. kcwritermom says:

    What a wonderfully written and fun to read blog! Your adventures sound quite fun. We bought a new house and live across the street from a Mexican family that has chickens, roosters (very noisy ones!) and ducks. It’s quite the new adventure. I love baby chicks – but we already have quite the brood of animals. Enjoy your chicks – I look forward to more stories!!

  28. keileigh says:

    Congratulations on your new additions! Sounds like you’re doing great, especially for learning as you go. In spite of having chickens most of my life, every new group of chicks has me second-guessing myself, sure I’m forgetting something vital. They’re tougher than they look, though.

    I’m getting Silkies for the first time this summer, and I’m ridiculously excited about them. Hope yours do great and you end up with lots of hens. :) Thanks for stopping by my blog. I look forward to keeping up with yours!

  29. Oh My God – they are so cute, how do you manage to ever leave them alone? I got my first chickens a week ago today. I’m on a steep learning curve but at least I know I have hens (3 because you want enough for them to be a flock but not so many that you will bury your home in eggs) and they are mature-ish (16 weeks – 17 now). All are Isa Browns which lay an egg almost every day (our friends are hoping this is true because even though we’re keen egg eaters, 2 people really have to work hard to eat 3 eggs a day).

    Mine are becoming sweet little pets and run to greet me whenever I walk into their space. I’m sure you’ll have quite the flock following you around in no time at all.

    • Congratulations on your new chickens! I’ve never heard of an Isa Brown before. I’ll have to do some research to learn more about them. It sounds like they’ve learned very quickly who their new mother is….their source of everything good.

      • Isa Browns are a cross between a Rhode Island Red and a Rhode Island White chicken. They were produced by a French Company to be good layers with a good temperament. They lay about 300 eggs in their first year but don’t produce much after 2 years. The main reason we selected the breed is it’s supposed to be one of the best for interaction with people. So far no eggs (they’re a bit young) but they are very friendly so I’m happy.

  30. weezmccarty says:

    Thanks for stopping by. We’re going to pick up our week old chicks this coming Saturday. They’ll be living in the bathtub til it’s time for the coop. Your chicks are adorable.

  31. What you are doing is fascinating. I had no idea this was going on. I will be following along. Are you familiar with a comfrey plant? It’s supposed to contain protein and animals who eat green leafy plants are supposed to like it. Might be worth looking into for your aquaponic system.

  32. This is my second year with chicks and I’ve learned A LOT! First off, the medicated water and food is a waste of money. My first batch of chicks I even paid extra for innoculated chicks. Don’t waste your money. If you feed them a good organic chick starter, you should be good. Just keep the water and food dishes clean. As you have already found out, that is a BIG chore! They love to dirty it up fast. If you are going to free range your chickens in the backyard, start early and feed them washed dandelion leaves. I did that with my first batch of chicks and now there are no dandelion’s left in the yard at all. I actually have to find dandelions in the park and pick them when I’m taking my dog a walk. I also give them spinach and lettuce – a little at a time, now that they are about a month old.

    Don’t worry about the heat lamp keeping them up. They will face-plant when they get tired – the light will not stop them from sleeping. If you cover one side with something that won’t catch fire from the heat lamp, they will have a cool side and a warm side. I usually keep the food and water on the cool side. The thing to remember is not to over think it. Keep them warm, provide fresh water and fresh food and keep the bedding clean. Chickens are the easiest thing in the world to keep – other than an air fern. I promise! You have a great book to help guide the way.

    I really like that you are wanting to feed them from your aquaponics. Just be sure they are getting all of the vitamins/minerals they need. You gotta think about the eggs!

    • I’ve been talking to them about their messes and they even seem to be listening, but within a few hours they’ve made another mess. They’re a lot like our kids. They think that making a mess is their current occupation, and it’s just too much fun.

      Do you think it’s too early to let the chicks out in the yard? The youngest are about three weeks old and we have a five-foot chain link fence around the backyard.

      Yea, they sure do face-plant a lot. It’s hilarious! They go from running around at full speed to face-planting within seconds. And then they’re up and running around again in no time.

      Thanks for the advice! I really appreciate your help.

      • Hey there – yeah, 3.5 weeks is still to early for them to be outside permanently. Warmth is the key factor. They haven’t had time to grow their down feathers yet. The first week of their life, they need to be kept at 95 degrees, then drop the temp by 5 degrees each week. By that figure, your little ladies would be at 85 coming up on 80 degrees. Not sure what the outside temp is where you live, but if it is cooler than that, you wanna keep them inside. Trust me, I KNOW how tempting it is to want to put them outside – but be patient with them. They grow so fast already. Probably within another few weeks they can go outside. I would recommend containing them and supervising and only for short periods at a time. They’ll love the sunshine! You want to be sure they are too big to get through your fence. My first batch I got in mid April and by late May had moved them outside as the weather was warm enough. My current ladies are growing up so fast that they are almost too big for their big girl brooder.

        Some advice on the coop and the run. I have a 10 foot dog run attached to the front of my coop. It is 7 feet tall (I wanted something tall enough I could walk into and stand up in) and I covered the top with green plastic poultry netting. This keeps them safe from predator birds. You also want to make sure nothing can dig into your run/coop from the bottom. I surround mine with potted plants full of pansy’s and other things that the ladies can eat. Last year I had tomatoes and potatoes growing around the run, also. They left those alone. Luckily we don’t have any predators where I live (have only seen a hawk and an eagle once. My roommate saw an opossum, also). But there are plenty of places for them to hide. They recognize certain calls and if they feel they are in danger, they’ll bolt to safety. I’ve seen them run crows and robins off, but they tend to shy away from the jays. I let my ladies out of the coop in the morning and then close them up at night after they put themselves to bed. I recently learned that chickens cannot see in the dark.

        So, long story short – I’d keep your ladies in until they are about 2 months old and then think about it again. Just remember, you only have this time of their lives when they live inside your house and peep and scratch. Enjoy it! I find their peeps comforting, like a waterfall sound. And yes, messes they will make abundantly! If you want more sociable hens, hold them and tote them around with you. Take them for little walks around your house. They’ll be much more friendly and sociable as adults. Some chickens are absolutely not interested in it. Some are. My Wanda wants nothing to do with being touched or held, so I use that to my advantage when I’m trying to feed them and she wants to eat out of the food scoop. I just politely touch her feet or her chest and she hops off. Little Gladys on the other hand, when I take the top off of the brooder she hops onto the side and practically begs me to pick her up. She goes for little walks around the house and she is so curious about everything.

        Just don’t over-think your chicks. They are pretty self sufficient little creatures. Good food, clean water, clean litter, warmth and they’re happy. When they get older, they’ll tell you if they are unhappy about something. Mine tend to get all in a tizzy when I clean their coop and take their messes away.

        You have a great system with your aquaponics garden. Now think of how you will integrate your chickens into another aspect of your life. What will their job be? Eating the dandelions out of your yard? Clearing up a patch of overgrowth by their scratching? Your hens will work for you, you just have to give them a job. It doesn’t stop with eggs, my friend!

  33. They look fantastic, and you’ve been very thorough! I have Easter Eggers as well, and you will love their colored eggs and puffy beards. They are definitely charmers. I haven’t had Silkies, but many – if not most – go broody and make good setters. Maybe next year you can try hatching some purchased hatching eggs at home. :) They are lucky little chicks to have fresh leafy greens! BTW, I also planted comfrey this year to cut for my chickens – very high in nutrients, a “dynamic accumulator” often used to create mass for a compost pile in organic as well as biodynamic gardening. I hope you and your family continue to enjoy your new chickens!

  34. Hope you are still enjoying your chicks. Mine are going outside on Easter. Enough house time for me.

    • That’s a good idea. One of the Ameraucanas almost flew out of the brooder yesterday. She actually poked her head over the top as she flapped her wings like mad. All the others seemed to be cheering her on, and then congratulated her for a valiant attempt after she fell back into the brooder. I’m sure that was her way of saying, let me out of here and take me outside.

  35. Megan Brown says:

    Great post! Let me know if you need any advice or have any questions! We’ve had chickens for years and years.

  36. markawhite says:

    I recently read that feeders and waterers should be operated at the height of the average chickens shoulders/back, so that the feed and water remain cleaner, and produce less wasted food. Also, I keep my water a little ways from the feed so there are fewer flying pine chips making it in. If you need to push the season a little, to get the bitties out before it’s warm enough, you could try a heated hoop house. It’s not very cost effective, per se, but at least your birds will have early access to sun and the outdoors. I hand fed mine tiny pieces of grass when they were young, and now it’s their preferred source of supplemental food. Thank you for the beautiful photos and the amazing weblog . . .

  37. vkhanson says:

    Loved this post. I am a “crazy chicken lady” ;) I have several different laying breeds of hens. The Ameraucanas are quiet, and perhaps more shy than my other girls, but they are also the least consistant layers. The rest of my hens lay daily (with the exception of the old hen “Bunny” who fits the term pollo loco – but that’s a different story). The Ameraucanas lay an egg ehen they feel like it. Might be every day and it might be in three days. They lay eggs from olive to almost robins egg blue. Don’t have a pink layer, although I know they sometimes do lay that color.

    • Hi Crazy Chicken Lady!

      From what I’ve read so far, Ameraucanas are shy (like ours), not very friendly (like ours), and lay eggs when they feel like it (not sure yet). It’s a good thing they’re quiet and have beautifully colored eggs.

      • vkhanson says:

        You got it!! My best layers are the isa browns. Not only are they predicable large egg, daily layers, but…they are loving interactive pets. They may only lay a nice big brown egg, which to some may be boring, but…they are a fantastic set of ambassadors to non chicken loving world. Extremely friendly and wonderful first chickens.

  38. anneelliot says:

    Hi there! Thanks for liking a post on my blog, I’m so glad you did. Can’t wait to start reading about aquaponics from you, always wondered how that worked and I love to learn from real-world application.

    Congrats on your chicks! I’m not sure if anyone else pointed this out, but feeding your chicks anything but feed is dangerous without also feeding them grit (which doesn’t come in their food) with which to chew the organic material in their gizzard. At their age, they need very small grit, like sand, and I’ve found the easiest way to get it to them without buying a giant bag of it (a waste of money, they won’t be that small for long) is to dig up a clump of sod with roots and some dirt still attached. They’ll find the grit they need in the soil and be able to digest all the greens and bugs you can throw at them. The only thing you have to worry about is that the clod of stuff shouldn’t be treated with chemicals.

    I had Ameracaunas in my first flock and they were gorgeous but aloof, since they’re half wild. They tended to bolt at the first sign of being approached and like any chicken, they make noise when they feel threatened or while laying (passing eggs is no easy feat!). That was just my experience, though, I’m sure there are plenty of them that are docile and laid back. Their eggs sure were gorgeous, though, when mixed with my dark brown Maran eggs and creamy hued Salmon Faverolle eggs.

    I scanned through most of the other comments and everyone is right about having chickens, you can’t go back. They’re entertaining to watch and you’ll miss having them if you ever have to go without. I think you were conned at the Tractor Supply, though. I’ve never heard of a law anywhere that requires buying 6 chicks. Usually when there are minimums it is only for the convenience of the seller, such as ordering a dozen from an online company because several will die in transit and they have a better chance of staying warm in larger groups. Also, most homes within city limits are governed by laws that state a household can only have three hens, because more is considered livestock instead of pets. So unless you have very strange ordinances where you live, I think they forced you to buy more than you needed. Still, you’re right, you’ll probably have several males to contend with, so it should be all right.

    I look forward to seeing how things go! I know you have plenty of resources, but if you ever need of ask any questions, I’m glad to help.

    • keileigh says:

      As far as the TSC requirement goes, I understand why they have it (so people won’t buy one or two for Easter basket novelties or “toys” and then neglect them), but I think they stretch it when they call it a law. But who knows, states have some random things on the books when it comes to pets and livestock, so maybe some places do have that standard. At the end of Chick Days last year, they did say I could purchase fewer than six (I actually bought ten that day — helpless to resist “clearance chicks”!), but the rest of the season they’re pretty strict about it. It does make it difficult for urban chicken keepers, though, unless they can find someone to split the chicks with!

    • Thanks Anne! After reading your post, I immediately gave the peeps some MannaPro Chick Grit that we bought with their food. At first they looked at it like aliens had just invaded their brooder, but then one of them gave it a try. Soon, they were all pushing each other out of the way to get at it.

      Our Ameraucanas sound like yours. They have no interest in us getting close to them…unless we have food or water in our hand. When we pick them up, it takes them a long time to relax. The older Silkies are much friendlier, but still a little scared of being picked up. Fortunately, they calm down quickly when we stroke their chest. After a while, they seem to enjoy being held.

      I’m afraid you may be right. While I try my best to not get conned, this time TSC got one over on me. It’s not so bad though. If we end up with three or four hens, I’ll be happy.

  39. rhondacarrier says:

    Good luck with the chickens. I think we are going to try raising ducks at school.

  40. Fay Moore says:

    Hubby and I are in our second spring with hens. We skipped the chick phase and bought pullets ready to lay. The girls have a pecking order and favorite companions. We came through our first winter fine, and grateful it was mild. We added a light in the coop to extend daylight artificially. Consequently we had no interruption in egg laying. We were pleasantly surprised with how socila the hens are. They want to be where we are when we turn them out of their run.

  41. We started out with 4 sexed chickens – two Rhode Island Reds and two Light Sussex – all female, or so we thought until they grew up: We’d landed ourselves with a male and female of each variety. We kept one male and gave the other to a friend, so now both boys are king of their own castle. Good luck with your little chix. I’m looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

  42. amyturnertaylor says:

    Adorable little rascals!

  43. luhu123 says:

    we had to put our waterer on a flipped over cake pan! amazing what you find around the house that can be used for chickens!!
    from, <3 Adventure

  44. pobept says:

    Grin.. hens and pullets no matter what breed are generally very quite and gentle. It’s the roosters that may start crowing as early as 3am that will cause you and your neighbors problems. Be ruthless, as soon as you can determine the roosters from the pullets, send ‘All’ of your roosters to the cook pot… Be a good neighbor..
    Happy gardening and learning to be a chicken wrangler :-)

  45. The Sampler says:

    Let’s hear it for a steep learning curve – it’s the only way to go sometimes.

  46. Pingback: A New Home for the Baby Chicks! | A HEALTHY LIFE

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