1 I have four chicken coops in a fully enclosed yard down by my vegetable gardens.
2 The chickens are free to move about the fenced-in areas throughout the day. The top is also fenced, making the chicken yard quite secure. The fencing keeps predators out and the chickens in.
3 One of the hen houses is set-up for the chick delivery. A cardboard brooder protects the chicks from drafts while providing ample ventilation. It is big enough so they can move out from under the heat lamps if they wish. Rounded brooders prevent them from getting stuck in corners.
4 At my Bedford farm, there are more than 100-chickens - a mélange of types and breeds that are really interesting to look at and fascinating to study.
5 Here are two Mille Fleur d'Uccle bantam hens, and one Porcelain d'Uccle bantam hen. These beauties have been on the farm for years.
6 The two white birds in the foreground are Super Blue Eggers, which will be frequent layers of large, blue eggs when they start laying in the fall.
7 This is a Blue Ameraucana rooster - so handsome.
8 The bird on the left is one of 12 Guinea fowl. Guinea fowl, sometimes called "original fowl" or guineahen. They play a pivotal role in the control of ticks, flies, locusts, scorpions and other invertebrates.
9 This blue Splash Marans hen is considering which nesting box she'll use to lay her eggs.
10 Birds of a feather flock together! These two Black Copper Marans hens just laid matching chocolate-brown eggs.
11 This black Copper Marans rooster in the foreground watches over his "girls", including a Silver Spangled Hamburg, a Barred Olive Egger, and a pair of White Crested Black Polish hens.
12 This is a gorgeous Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner. It is easy to see the unique plumage that's so rare in the chicken world.
13 Here are Dawa Sherpa and Traci Torres. Dawa takes great care of my chickens, guinea hens, Pomeranian geese, and peafowl. Traci is the CEO and founder of My Pet Chicken. Traci just delivered a box of 12 cute, plump chicks to the farm. http://www.mypetchicken.com
14 And here are the babies - they include Green Magnolias, Chocolate Orpingtons, Carolina Blues and Ameriflowers. Most of these breeds are only available at My Pet Chicken!
15 The chick in the foreground is an Ameriflower - a cross of a true Ameraucana with a Swedish Flower Hen. This breeds lay blue-green or blue-tinted egg. Although this cross is beautiful and sweet, it is prized more for its homesteading qualities. Ameriflowers are hardy in both the heat and the cold; they make good broodies and mothers.
16 Chicks can be very thirsty when they arrive, so one by one, as they were placed into the brooder, Dawa gently showed them where to drink.
17 The water is replaced several times a day to keep the supply clean, and the chicks healthy. The best type of waterer is one made specially for chicks, so several can drink at once. Waterers come in many sizes and shapes.
18 The chicks with the chipmunk-like stripes are Green Magnolias, an auto-sexing green egg layer. "Auto sexing" means males are distinguishable from females at hatch, often by the presence of a white or yellow dot on their heads.
19 The blue chick in the middle is a Carolina Blue, a hardy and productive breed which lays green to dark green eggs.
20 The babies are exploring their new home. An ideal brooder is large enough to provide chicks the option of being directly under the heat source, where it's warmest, or to escape the heat when ambient temperatures are higher.
21 Chicks need about two-square feet per chick when in the brooder, so they have ample space to move around. It may sound like a lot at first, but as they grow, it becomes more understandable.
22 After about a month, the chicks will get access to more floor space.
23 These chicks are just about five to seven days old, but they will grow quickly. At around five weeks old, they can go outside.
24 This "complete" feed is specially-formulated to meet all the nutritional needs of chicks. We store feed in galvanized bins to prevent the attraction of unwanted critters. Dawa fills the feeders for the babies.
25 A good chick starter feed will contain protein for weight gain and muscle development, plus vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy and to build their immune systems. The chicks will be fed organic chick starter feed for the first six to eight weeks.
26 Usually after one chick finds the food and water, the others will follow, but be observant and make sure they are all able to access them.
27 The important thing is to not use open dishes - chicks can drown easily. Open dishes also encourage wading, which will be extra messy.
28 Baby chicks are just like human babies: they're usually eating, sleeping or pooping!
29 By instinct, chickens like to perch as high as possible. The height of a chicken's perch can indicate their status on the pecking order. This little guy is proclaiming he's king of the hill!
30 The chicks have access to everything they need: heat, water, feed, and bedding.
31 You can estimate that 10 chicks will consume about a pound of starter feed per day.
32 Outside, the chickens are wondering what all the commotion is about. This is a Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner, and to her left, Partridge Penedesenca.
33 This is a super Blue Egg Layer pullet. Chickens start to lay eggs about four or five moths of age. Young chickens are called pullets and pullets lay small-size eggs.
34 In the middle is a Lavender Orpington, a beautiful and rare variety of the English breed. The darker birds are Blue Favaucanas, a friendly and beautiful breed that lays a mint green egg - these are exclusive to My Pet Chicken!
35 The bird on the right is a Bielefelder cockerel, from My Pet Chicken's first delivery earlier this spring. A cockerel is a male chicken less than one year of age. When it turns one, it becomes a rooster.
36 The flock enters the coops as it begins to grow dark. When all are inside, the doors are shut and securely latched until morning. One can't be too safe when there are hungry raccoons and coyotes around. If you think you may be interested in raising chickens, research your town’s zoning regulations first.