Take the Plunge with a Clutch

Our own chickens! The idea has been simmering since we arrived at the Queendom – or perhaps more precisely, FM has been keen since day one and I have been slowly and cautiously considering the concept.

My key hesitation is that, although I am a fan of birds and bird-watching, I can’t stand bird feet (in fact, I kind of gagged as I wrote those two words). Also, if we are going to go the chicken route, I think that we should be completely ready with coop, feeders, waterers, etc. before we put any living thing at risk under our care.  But I digress…

With very little fanfare (or fore-thought), we headed to a little farm yesterday and bought 2-day old chicks. The chain of events was that FM happened to be perusing (?!) the usedcomoxvalley farm forum (our town’s answer to craigslist) and saw that a local poultry farmer had some heritage breeds ready for the Sunday Poultry Swap. In all of our discussions, we had decided that heritage breeds were the way to go and we (he?) seemed especially keen on the “Chantecler” variety, which is a cold-hardy Canadian breed from Quebec (pronounced SHAN-te-clay). This farmer also had “Welsummers” and “Orpingtons”.

So, when FM arrived home from work on Friday, he relayed this news to me and, immediately, I felt some pressure to get these particular chicks before they were bought by some less-appreciative farmer at the swap. FM reassured me that all we needed was a box, some wood shaving and some starter feed. This was the pressure we needed to start constructing our backyard coop!

With all that starter feed, I think we might do this again some day!

With all that starter feed, I think we might be doing this again some day!

The bathroom floor is heated and we have been carting around that Motorola for about 10 years.

The bathroom floor is heated.  That Motorola monitor box has been shuffled around with us for about 10 years, waiting for this exact purpose!

Gavin, the Holiday Farm heritage poultry farmer, brought us into his little chicken hatchery – aka his laundry room. He had about 30 2-day old chicks and about 18 week-old chicks in separate brooders. He showed us a wall of incubators, full of multi-coloured eggs.

With 2 day old chicks, you buy a straight-run, or unsexed chicks, since their sex is unknown until the tail feathers and combs start to show. We decided ahead of time that we would like to end up with 3 laying hens – who would lay approximately three eggs/week. At $3/chick, we bought 6 chicks – 4 Chanteclers and 2 Welsummers, thinking that 50% would be roosters. Both breeds are considered ‘dual-purpose’, meaning that they lay well but they also grow to a decent eating size.  We are not yet sure if we want a rooster around.

We placed our brood into a lasportiva cardboard box with a hot water bottle and headed for home. FM had set up a large Motorola monitor box in our spare bathroom, which has heating coils in the floor. We cranked up the floor heat, put a gooseneck desk lamp on the box edge as another heat supply, spread some shavings around the box bottom and placed a waterer and a feeder inside.

The 4 pale yellows are the Chanteclers and the 2 chipmunks are Welsummers

The 4 pale yellows are the Chanteclers and the 2 chipmunks are Welsummers

All six chicks

All six chicks

These 2 figured out how to drink at the same time and were involved in synchronized drinking.

These 2 figured out how to drink at the same time and were involved in synchronized drinking.

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon watching them, holding them and reading about them.

Chicken Farmer #1

Chicken Farmer #1

Chicken Farmer #2

Chicken Farmer #2

Here are some photos of adult Welsumers and White Chanteclers:

Welsummer roosters are the Corn Flakes box rooster!

welsumerRoo

White Chanteclers have small combs which won’t get frostbite in the cold Canadian winters.

White2010ChanteclerRooSm

89713678chantecler_hen

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    christiok said,

    Hi! Congratulations on your new brood, and wonderful pictures! Good luck. 🙂 Also, fyi, when I click on the title link to the blog, it takes me to a “This page could not be found” page. I read it as the email. I have no idea why or how to fix it, but my reading it won’t show up on your number of views.


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