This past Sunday, a dozen eager participants and a minor rainstorm (!) arrived for our Backyard Chickens workshop. Fortunately the rain only stayed for introductions and a quick cup of coffee, and we were able to get out and see the chickens do their thing without getting soaked.
The brooder coop was a big hit. We have a few broody Silkie hens who hatched out eggs for us, and we hatched a batch in our incubator as well. Jennifer cunningly snuck the incubated chicks out to the Silkies, who continued to adopt them in turn. This year we are raising meat chickens as well as layers. We purchased 25 “Bonnie’s Heavy Red” chicks, which are a somewhat slower growing meat chicken.
As Jennifer talked about in a previous post, we opted not to raise standard Cornish Rock cross meat birds, and we’re hoping that the Heavy Reds look a little less freaky as they grow. Even at a week old, there are noticeable differences in behaviour between the layer chicks and the meat chicks. The meat chicks are already much larger and slower moving, and this led to a short discussion on the difference between meat and layer breeds.
We took a walk down to the barn to see the hens and roosters, and talked about housing requirements for healthy happy chickens. As the weather has suddenly become very warm, ventilation and air exchange are on our mind. We have fans running throughout our barn to ensure air flow, and the chickens seem pleased about it. The hens were also very happy to demonstrate how to have a dust bath.
I think that the next time we run this class we should stretch it to three hours, as most everyone wound up being here for nearly an extra hour asking questions and talking. It was so much fun to spend an afternoon with a bunch of like minded folks. I can’t wait until the next time that we run this course!