We’ve got the starts of a backyard flock.
After WEEKS of research, hours of searching the web, and numerous visits to the various feed and seed stores in our area, we finally decided on numbers and breeds.
I knew first and foremost I wanted good, reliable egg layers. At first I didn’t really care whether they would be white or brown eggs – but the more I talked to the kids and friends (who amazed me with their interest in purchasing eggs when the time was appropriate), the more convinced I was we would need both brown egg layers and white egg layers.
After hours of comparing one breed to the other – and going through what I *think* may well be the entire supply of any book even remotely associated with raising chickens from our local library – I decided we should get:
4 Rhode Island Red chicks
4 White Leghorn chicks
Availability is something that sometimes precludes these kinds of decisions, however!
Yesterday the boys and I went out and got all of the supplies we needed to set up a brooder – with the hope of coming home with chicks on the morrow. We visited many stores that one would assume would have supplies – whether or not they were originally designated as a potential brooder, would at least have options that would be converted into an acceptable brooder. I think I was maybe most surprised at the amazing amount of money one could lay out on such a pursuit. I’m thankful for all of the great web sites and brooder designs I was able to peruse online – the creativity and ingenuity that people have shown is great!
After considering many options – we decided on a pretty bare bones approach with as little cash outlay as possible. Here’s the link that helped us settle upon our design: http://www.poultryhelp.com/brooders.html We ended up going to Fred Meyer and finding the largest clear storage bin they had and purchasing it – grand total: $19.99. And sure enough, by the time we went to sleep last night, our brooder was in place.
As the night wore on, though, I decided I should take one more peek at the different breeds and decide on some options that I would be willing to substitute. I came up with:
Barred Plymouth Rock
Both are brown egg layers (I found it hard to find a lot of information about white egg layer alternatives), and the more I read, the more I thought that maybe it was Dominiques that I wanted – maybe even more than the Rhode Island Reds! I figured availability would play into that though.
So our big aim for the day was to make a circuit of all of the places that were advertising that they had chicks in stock, check them out, determine if we felt the chicks were healthy, thriving, and met the breed requirements that we were looking for. We also decided that if we had no luck, then we’d end up ordering online from one of the several hatcheries that make that service available.
I’m not 100% sure how many miles we put on the car today, but we did manage to take a pretty decent tour of a good chunk of the greater Portland metropolitan area. We learned a lot! And we found out that our favorite place was actually a place we went yesterday – Ag West in Hillsboro. After hours of getting a tour of all of the other places, we decided to go back to Ag West.
We spoke with the staff there and learned that they had Dark Red Island Red’s, but none of the other breeds that I’d decided on. The gentleman at the counter did mention that he was able to make a special order, however. That would preclude me ordering 5 of a particular breed, though. As the day had been progressing I’d been thinking how much I really wanted the Dominiques, though. So I asked about them. He confirmed they were an excellent choice. So I said, “Okay, order 5 of those for me.” It was then that I realized I didn’t have any white egg layers yet. I asked about White Leghorns. He said he doesn’t like to order them, and asked if there were another white egg layer I was interested in. I asked what he recommended, and he and the gentleman farmer at the counter next to me said nearly in unison, “California Whites.” So, I said, “Okay, give me 5 of those, too.”
The boys looked at me and said, “We should get some Rhode Island Reds.” And I told the man, “And I’ll take 4 of the Dark Rhode Island Reds.”
I just couldn’t imagine going home with NO chicks after all of the work we’d put in thus far!
So, we picked out our four chicks, put them in a cardboard box – which the boys “debated” should be the one to hold in the car on the way home, told the man I’d take a 50 pound bag of chick starter, and a 50 pound bag of rice hulls (for litter).
The trip home was uneventful. We got in the door, we got the flooring all put together, and gently introduced our babies to the waterer by dipping their beaks in, and set them in.
We’re pretty much already in love.
THEY’RE SO STINKING CUTE!
I can hardly wait until they’re a little bit bigger and we can get them out into the yard.
I’m wondering, however, how this will alter my coop building agenda!