We have chickens. Lots of chickens. This is no a secret. We started the year with a certain number of chickens, then over the course of the last few months, we lost a few. Well, more than a few. The culprit - coyotes. I get that predators have their place in the world, but could they move it on down the road a little? We managed to do a few things that really seem to have made a difference, and I am happy to report that we are holding our own so far.
We have been in the chicken business for about five years now. I sort of have a love-hate relationship with my chickens. I love the birds themselves. They are very entertaining and interesting. I love the eggs. My birds are really well taken care of, and I am very particular about their diet. This makes me feel very good about the eggs they produce. I am not a fan of large, commercial animal operations, of any kind, and do not want to eat eggs that come from them.
The hate side of things comes from the friends they attract. If you have chickens, you will have snakes, skunks, and possums.
They also tend to be a money pit. I sell my eggs, and have yet to make a profit on my chicken operation. It can be a little depressing at times. You do all this work, and then this or that happens, and you either have to reinvest or hang it up. If you had asked me at the beginning of this year, I would have told you this is it for me on the chicken thing. I actually did tell several people this very thing. My intentions were to let the flock dwindle down to a manageable level that would supply eggs for my family and a few friends.
I happened to be at the feed store when they brought in a batch of new chicks. I bought eight. I have no photos or video of them as of yet. I have actually had them for a few weeks. I also bought four birds that were about eight weeks old at the time.
I may have a bit of a chicken habit?
My Full-Timer had a cow.
She went on a rant like you have never heard before. Sort of funny since she is gone all the time.
What does she care?
This still does not completely solve my problem. I can only do so many things to manage my birds. They have to do the rest. They also have to learn to pay attention to what is going on and get to a safe location when they sense something after them. After a few brief conversations with the Man in Charge, I decided to get some Guineas. I have heard they are fierce watchdogs, and after doing a little research, found that they can be beneficial to a flock of chickens. They just tend to be more aware of their surroundings, and they know how to sound the alarms when something evil is lurking about. They have also been known to kill snakes.
Killing two birds with one stone here.
I managed to acquire two Guinea Keets rather quickly.
Keets being the term used for baby Guineas.
They were about a month old when I got them, and they are living with the eight week old birds I purchased. Two is good, but I needed more. I placed an order with my favorite hatchery, Murray McMurray Hatchery, and my birds were delivered this past Thursday. If you have ever ordered birds, you know they ship in the mail.
Yes, regular mail.
So, your post office will call you at about 6:30 in the morning to tell you to come pick up your birds.
I ran down there, and they were making a ton of noise. This is not uncommon. They usually ship the same day they hatch. Then they spend two or three days traveling without food or water. By the time you get your hands on them, they need some attention. I brought them home and transferred them to a larger box with food and water available. They started eating and drinking and trying to run. I say trying to run because they were more than a little wobbly. Never-the-less, they were determined. They also started screaming at the top of their lungs. I have never heard anything so loud in all my life. Ear piercing - loud! I tried everything I could think of. Nothing was helping.
What have I done?
In my panic, I did what anyone would do. I jumped on Google.
What was I doing wrong?
What did I need to be doing?
I was doing everything I was reading. I even had them in the garage so they would be warm enough. It was cooking out there to me, and it was pretty hot outside. Surely, they are warm enough.
This is what they did for a good couple of hours. You may want to cover your ears, or keep your hand on the volume.
This went on and on. I was seriously trying to decide if I could put them back in their box and send them back. Finally, I relented and put a heat lamp on them. Mind you, it has been over 100 degrees here, but I was at the end of my rope. Almost immediately they stopped screaming. They did not stop running around though. They were non-stop. I checked on them several times during the day, and they were quite busy. I had read on the Internet that they should be sleepy. Sleepy to the point that I should not be concerned about them if they seem to sleep all the time.
Not these little guys.
Later, before bed, I snuck out there and it was quiet. I was very scared that I would disturb them, but I couldn't resist.
I was certain, the little guy with his eye open, would jump up and sound the alarm and get the whole gang going at it again, but he didn't . They were worn out!
Thank you, Lord!
Here they are on day 2. No screaming. Nice and calm. Still running, but they seem a little more stable.