If you have chickens of your own, you’ll understand this… Five chickens was just not enough. Have you ever heard people joke about chicken math? It is the idea that once you have chickens, you keep adding to your flock while trying to convince yourself that you don’t have as many chickens as you actually do. Though this does not exactly describe us, I can definitely see how it could be an issue if your chickens are completely free range. We, on the other hand, have a limited amount of space, so we planned exactly how many chickens we wanted to complete the flock and built our chicken coop and run to accommodate that number of chickens.
For us, twenty-one was the magic number. We came up with that number by determining the appropriate amount of square footage needed for a single chicken and looking at the materials we had on hand for construction. Taking those two numbers together, we determined that we could accommodate twenty-one chickens. We started out with four hens and one rooster – not necessarily by choice. See my earlier post to hear the story of how we got started with chickens. We have two red hens (I think they are New Hampshire Reds, but I am not certain), a Black Australorp hen, a Leghorn hen, and a Leghorn rooster.
Here’s a photo of my adult chickens (from left to right – Myrtle, Snow, Pecky, Coalie, Clarabelle):
When I started looking into expanding the flock, I began to research different breeds. I looked at their temperament, their weather tolerance, their egg laying averages and colors, and their appearance. I started making a wish list of breeds that I liked. I immediately decided that Silver Laced Wyandottes had to be on my list. Their black and white feathers are just beautiful to me! For the same reason, I added Plymouth Barred Rocks. Next up was the Easter Egger. I love the beautiful egg colors that they lay. Ameraucanas were on my list, too. I had to do quite a bit of research here because I kept getting conflicting information about whether these two were actually the same or not. I finally found that they are not the same and that Ameraucanas are a little more difficult to find than Easter Eggers since the Easter Eggers are actually a hybrid. Ameraucanas are still on my wish list, but I was unable to find them when I got ready to order, so I decided the Easter Eggers would have to suffice for now.
My six-year-old holding one of the baby chicks:
I liked the idea of the heritage breeds, so I added some Buff Orpingtons to the mix. I like supporting heritage breeds because I feel like we are preserving a bit of history by doing so. Finally, since we have just one Black Austraulorp, I decided to get her a flockmate so that she would not be alone. In the end, after a good bit of number crunching, my list consisted of four Silver Laced Wyandottes, two Plymouth Barred Rocks, four Easter Eggers, five Buff Orpingtons, and one Black Australorp. Next, since I am not very patient, I began to search for a way to get these chicks in a hurry. I was excited to find out that you can order chicks online from hatcheries and have them sent directly to you by way of the U.S. Postal Service. Yes, you read that correctly – they will ship live chicks to you in the mail!
This is how they looked the moment we opened the package:
I found great reviews for two hatcheries, and ended up deciding on Meyer Hatchery since they had what I wanted available for delivery the following week. I placed my order, read the information provided, and began gathering supplies. The following week (the week of the expected delivery), I contacted my local post office to tell them that I was expecting a delivery of live chicks sometime that week. They called me on the morning that the chicks arrived, and I went down to pick up my peeping box.
This is a photo moments after we put them all into their new home:
We followed the directions and dipped each of their beaks into the vitamin water that we had mixed for them, placed them in a container with water, food, and a 125-watt heat lamp, and we were off and running. We are in the third week now, and they are all growing like crazy, so we must be doing something right! Follow my blog for more updates. I will share all the lessons we learn as we continue this adventure. You can also follow me on Instagram @backyardfarmproject for photos.
Chicks happily eating: