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Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Additions

I am very sore from three days gardening at my daughter's house in Hobart but have a real sense of accomplishment. I took my mother with me and boy can she put in a hard day of yakka, she is so inspiring, hope I am as good at her age.

There were some new members of the flock when I got home. Craig has ordered some Australorp day olds from Wynyard on the north-west coast and 21 of them arrived on the bus. The photo shows our last batch and I will have new photos soon but it is primarily to show how we set up for the chickens. The chickens in the photo were Austalorp cross and the very black one is indicative of how this flock of pure breds look. The group is not sexed so we expect roughly half to be male. These will be raised to about 14 weeks and then culled for meat (well before they start crowing)and the hens will be kept to booster the stock and we will also sell others on at point of lay stage.

We raise them in our very large garage. Craig has a sheet of flexible metal sheet about 2 metres long and about 75cm high with one end attached to a length of timber for stability. This is formed into a small round to accommodate the flock with holes drilled at intervals allowing the circle to be enlarged as the chicks grow. A light is suspended for warmth and newspaper, then sawdust is layered in the bottom. Old plastic milk containers are cut for feeders and water supply. These are cut in such a way so the chicks can feed but limit them from walking all over their food and fouling with poop etc. It is also important that their water is plentiful but stable and prevents them from getting wet. A wet chicken is a cold chicken! The lighting is raised or lowered to get the right temperature for the chickens. If they are clustered thickly under the light, they are probably too cold. If they are all round the edge of the enclosure, then they are probably too hot....somewhere in between is the ideal.

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