It has been one month this Monday April 7, 2014 that we made the drive over an hour to Lebanon, Mo. to Cackle Hatchery and purchased our new flock of laying hens, 16 Cinnamon Queens. We ended up with 16 buy purchasing just 15, the minimum and we will soon be butchering our old flock of layers as they are all over 2 years old now and the egg production will be going down. We have already seen a drop in the production from just a year ago. The new chicks, we started inside in just a small plastic tote and then at about 3 weeks had to move them outside in a small chicken wire fenced yard where they could fly about, jump and play all day.
We started seeing signs of stress lately, and that signaled they were in need of more space. When chicks are stressed for any reason, they tend to pull each others feathers out and peck each other more, they will also start to look a bit ragged. So we moved them to the playpen style set up for a week. Well the April rains set in and so the safest place for them now is the chicken house with all the older chickens. So they have been in the chicken yard for about 4 days now and they seem to be doing quite well. If you have ever raised chickens you should know how important it is for the new chicks to be exposed to the adult manure as well as foraging (if they will be free range like ours) at a very young age.
Doing so will make them less susceptible to diseases and the smaller they are when introduced to foraging the better they will be at it as they age. We do free range our chickens and they do well. This results in a much lower feed bill for the homestead and a much firmer and richer meat when we butcher them. Here is a picture taken just this morning of the baby chicks in the chicken yard playing about, oh, they were just scratching up a storm!