April 2 - that is our target date. For what? For when we will be bringing home chickens! We have been working off and on since the start of January building the chicken pen. And while the structure has been complete since late February, we have been stalled on enclosing it.
We need to build the actual coop first. Our coop won't be small so we did take a little break to save the money we need for the materials. But now that we have an end date we need to reach, we are in the process of buying the materials we need to build it. We hope to begin construction this weekend.
Luckily the chickens won't go straight into the pen and coop. They'll be only about a week old, maybe even days or a day old, when we get them, which means they need to be sheltered and heated for 4-5 weeks before being introduced to the outdoors. Can you tell I've been doing my research? I actually found a great, free eBook on the web site My Pet Chicken, if this is something that interests you. It's a quick read and provides further reading suggestions but seems perfect in helping you get started.
We'll start the chicks out in our garage. Knowing this, I spent a good deal of time on Sunday cleaning up the main area as you first walk in from all the junk that had gathered there. Now the goal is to keep it clean, though the arbor is going to move in for a little while so I can properly paint it.
And I'm pretty sure we know what breed we're going to start out with - Ameracanas aka Easter Eggers since they tend to lay blue or green, large eggs. We're going to plan on getting six this year and will look at adding to the flock in a couple of years. We're also considering getting a couple turkeys. Cameron's even debating getting a pet duck.
We went to our local feed store Monday to look at what they currently had in stock and when the next shipment of chicks are coming in. We were informed that they had received 300 birds on Wednesday, 3/4 and they probably had under 40 birds left, most of which were Bantams, which are more for show than for egg laying. During other times we have spoken with the people of our feed store, we have learned that there are egg layers, one variety for meat purposes, and bantams, which are good for rearing chicks - they are the ones that like to sit on the eggs and brood. Bantams are also much smaller than standard chickens.
And on Monday, we learned they are expecting a shipment on April 2, which will have a few Ameracanas in it. Plus, we can come in and pay for them in advance to ensure we get what we want.
Our chicken pen is about 30 feet x 20 feet. But we plan to separate the egg layers from the eventual broilers we plan to get (meat-only birds), so down the middle, we plan to put a barrier, so the pen will be 30 x 10 feet.
The race is on to get the coop built. Looks like we now have to have it done by the start of May.