I apologize for the lack of pictures lately (not like I’ve ever been a fountain of visual aids here), but they’re all still on the camera memory card. I think I meant to show pictures of the chickies as they were growing up, and then they went and got all grown up too fast! They’ve been moved into their coop and we (by we, I mean T) have spent a lot of time trying to secure their run area from the dogs.
While they were just in the coop, the dogs took to staring at them through the open hardware cloth and then scratching at it, making a lot of noise and scaring everyone in the process. I tried to add boards to block the chickens from their field of view, but it didn’t really work. So, enclosing the run area became a priority. Originally, we were just going to close it in with wire fencing and hardware cloth, but as the coop experiment showed, the dogs are kind of relentless when they can see the chickens. We bought cement fiber board panels from Home Depot (I think they’re siding panels) and used them as walls all around the coop and run. Wire fencing is above that so no one can jump or fly in. T is going to build me a gate using part of a panel and we also buried hardware cloth around the perimeter to discourage digging.
The solution isn’t as open-feeling as I’d envisioned, but this will keep the chickens safer and prevent the dogs from going crazy (and making so much noise). Of course, the downside of this is that the chickens look so small in the big space! I have to remember that they’ll probably grow to almost twice the size they are now when they’re full grown, and that I don’t really need more than 2 chickens. Two chickens will provide more eggs than we can use, we’re not going to sell extras, and we’ll probably just give some away. So it’s not like I need more layers to provide a constant stream of eggs.
For the longest time, the chickens weren’t interested in any food other than their feed. I was beginning to think my chickens were broken… the internet was full of people whose chickens ate everything in sight! Now I think they just weren’t old enough. I recently gave them mealworms and crickets and they went nuts! The chickens make a funny noise when presented with something new (kind of like “Whoa! Suspicious item! Stay back!”) and they make a different noise when chasing after food (“Whee! Being predatory!”) Either pet store crickets are kind of slow or the chickens are pretty quick, because they clear the field rather quickly.
I also gave them a small dish of yogurt (we’re a Fage household) with some ground flaxseed on the side. Bunny loved the yogurt; Buffy was quite offended. She would go to peck at it, then get upset that it stuck to her beak. There was a lot of head flinging and beak wiping. And then she would go back, maybe to see if it was still as disgusting as it was 5 seconds earlier? Bunny, meanwhile, would just go pick up the specks of yogurt that were being flung onto the floor. Buffy seemed to like the flaxseed, but not the parts touching the yogurt. And, at the end of the day, the dish was pecked clean.
They’ve also enjoyed a tomato that was half eaten in the garden and a fig that was split open (or maybe pecked open by a wild bird). They have not touched the pineapple guava I gave them when I was testing it to see if it was ripe (it wasn’t).
I really like our chickens. They’re different from the dogs and they’re interesting to watch. It’s been a lot of work getting them set up to live outside and they probably won’t ever pay for their coop and run through eggs alone, but I still think they’re worth it.