So we got our second batch of chicks this Wednesday. We bought them from the local Orsheln’s Farm Supply. The farm supply gets their chicks from Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri. Checking the Estes website, the hatch date was August 31st. Currently they are showing hatch dates of each Wednesday. I’m not certain they don’t have other hatch dates for chicks sent to the farm supply stores, showing only hatch dates for chicks sent to the general public. Orsheln’s says they were hatched on Thursday, September 1st. Only a days difference, so not really an important issue.
For this round, we purchased a dozen chicks, purported to be all pullets. A third of our first batch of 15 turned out to be cockerels so we don’t expect to see drastically different results this time, but maybe. Of the first batch, 4 of the 5 Easter Egger Ameraucanas were cockerels. We got four more of them this time, along with two Rhode Island Reds, and six Buff Orpingtons. Our guess is we’ll likely get some Ameraucana roosters in this batch.
So part of the goal here is to get some broody hens for the next year, hoping to get the hens to hatch and raise the next batch of chicks. From our research, it seems Buff Orpingtons are pretty good for going broody. Plus the Buff Orpingtons were available locally, saving on shipping expenses. We still may purchase a couple more breeds. Thinking perhaps some Welsummers next.
While this batch of chicks is in the brooder box in the barn where we can keep them more secure and under the heat lamps, I’ll be working on a new chicken coop, and perhaps a small chicken tractor. Most of the garden is done for the summer season so about time to concentrate the hens in the garden to scratch and fertilize the ground, perhaps nab a few pesky bugs too. This batch of chickens will occupy the new coop which will be situated near the existing coop. A fence will separate the pens so the hens can get familiar with the new additions to the flock.
I’ve not decided if both groups should free range together, or to allow one group on one day, the other group the next day and alternate for a while. I am thinking of the alternating days at this point to start them out. Our first group though has been free range every day, all day, since just a few days after they moved from the brooder to the coop. As soon as they knew where home was and started roosting in the coop on their own, I started letting them free range. When they are free ranging, there are no constraints on them. They sometimes wander into the surrounding woods, sometimes out near the gravel road along the grass strip, but most of the time they stay in the cleared area of the yard. They have not wandered more than about 100 yards from the coop – – so far.