always wanted to keep chickens so it was perfect when our three-year
old got a pair of Easter chicks this year from his grandmother.
was amazed to watch these two tiny chicks grow into Nerf football-sized
hens in a matter of two months. Their rate of growth was nothing short
of remarkable; every day they looked bigger and had developed new
feathers. Their feet are now the size that they were when they first
species are black sex link and New Hampshire red. The black sex link
is ideal for an "Easter chick" because you can tell the
sex immediately upon hatching as the male will have a very clear white
dot directly atop his head. This is interesting as you'll note in
the video below our little black sex link has white around his head
and as you can see above that he is clearly a her! (7/19/10
Editor's note: turns out our chickens are not the species they were
said to be, and they are also roosters! See the updated picture at
the bottom of the article)
kept the chicks first in a cardboard box and then graduated them into
a 5' x 2.5' Rubbermaid bin. We used a simple lamp with a 60 watt incandescent
bulb for heating and pine shavings as a substrate. The lamp supplied
enough heat because the bulb was only a foot and a half away from
the brooder floor. Every day I cleaned off the top layer of shavings
and replaced food and water, and every five days I fully cleaned out
the chicks remained indoors longer than necessary as I was unsure
of what sort of coop I'd make for them.
coops, or smaller chicken "tractors" which can be wheeled
around the yard, are ridiculously expensive, even for a miniature
unit housing only two hens. I wasn't about to spend up to $400 and
then have our two chicks swooped off by the neighboring hawk that
lives behind us.
discovered via youtube an affordable and innovative design for a chicken
tractor made out of PVC piping and chicken wire, embedded below:
we experience strong winds on occasion and I didn't feel this setup
would stand up to the force. However, I was still attracted to the
idea of a chicken tractor as we only have two hens and tractors are
much easier to maintain and clean than coops. I searched the house
until I found a collapsible, steel dog crate under our bed.
solid bottom is a removable pan which I relocated to the top of the
crate so it can hold down the tarp which shades and cools the coop.
The two bins are currently wind refuges but will ultimately be nesting
boxes once I bolt a couple 1x4s to the base in order to hold the pine
shaving substrate. A 1/2" wooden rod serves as a perch and easily
slides through the crate.
use a rabbit waterer and a simple plastic pan for supplemental feed.
Note both the waterer and the feeder are outside the coop, not taking
up valuable interior real estate.
I provide commercial food, the bulk of the chicken's sustenance and
nutrition comes from insects and anything else they can peck throughout
our fenced front yard. They are let out in the morning and return
to their coop at nightfall.
dog crate is perfect for our situation. It's easy to break down and
clean and it's a simple matter of dragging it to a new location in
the yard, which I do every two weeks.
the black sex link and New Hampshire red are good layers and have
a docile temperament, making them good for children and pets. It's
fun to walk out into the front yard and watch two chickens dashing
at you and then following you over the lawn.
crates and kennels can be readily found at yard sales and other secondhand
venues, often for under $20. As it will be outside it doesn't have
to be in perfect shape, although you'll want to be sure the bottom
is not a solid surface as this would inhibit scratching and make cleaning
you've ever wanted to keep a couple yard hens, there's no reason to
spend hundreds of dollars or devote hours of your time to a clunky
DIY coop project. Dog crates provide ventilation, shade, and a safe,
fully enclosed environment for your little cluckers.
it turns out our darker chicken Tuck is not a black sex-link but a
barred rock chicken, and Tuck is actually a he. The New Hampshire
Red, which also is not a pure New Hampshire Red, also happens to be
the names? Ming-Ming and Tuck are characters from the children's show
Wonder Pets and were picked by our son James.
apparently impossible to tell the sex with certain breeds until the
signs start to show. In the picture above you can see the deep red,
pronounced comb (atop the head) and waddle (under the chin) on Ming-Ming.
Tuck also has a developed comb and waddle in addition to his curved
and tall tail feathers.
there's crowing, which Tuck is also doing. All three are telltale
signs of a rooster, although some hens do rarely crow.
they still very much get along with each other and there have been
no aggression issues, among the birds or to humans.
Throughout this entire website, statements are made pertaining to
the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration
and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat,
cure or prevent any disease.