I don’t think that it will come as a surprise to my regular readers that I’ve been thinking a lot about chickens lately. And while we still have almost two full months before our full-scale breeding program will commence, it is – by far – the most interesting and terrifying new change to our homesteading plan this spring.
After spending the last few weeks with Storey’s Guide to Raising Chicks (on loan from the local library) and Ussery’s Small Scale Poultry Flock, I feel like I finally have a fairly clear picture of how things will work, as soon as the weather warms up enough that we can start building and shuffling our flock.
The tentative plan that I’ve come up with is to divide our large flock (2 Roosters & 8 Hens) into two smaller breeding flocks (1 Rooster & 4 Hens). Each flock will be banded with zip ties of the same color (blue & green), then sent out to pasture in either our current A-Frame tractor or a modified version of Ussery’s pasture shelter, reinforced with hardware cloth, instead of just chicken wire & possibly a ramp up to the second floor that can be raised at night to protect the flock even more.
After twenty-one days of separation, I will begin to collect eggs (hoping, all the while for two of the girls to go broody. The broody hens will be re-situated in the winter coop on clutches of eggs, and once the chicks hatch, they will be brooded in both the winter coop and the larger chicken tractor, with the help of their hen-mamas.
We’re hoping to place about 16 eggs under each hen; hopefully hatching between 20 – 24 chicks.
I hope to post the entire process as we get closer and begin building the new shelter and renovating part of the winter coop into a chick brooder.
Have you ever done this? What advice might you offer?