Back in February, we ordered 20 chicks of various laying breeds through the mail. They were all guaranteed to be hens, but if you have watched my latest episode of "Small Talk With Smockity Frocks", you've heard evidence that they are definitely NOT all hens.
And Johnny Cash. (Get it? The Man in Black?)
By the way, when you see a panicked look on my face in my webisodes, it is because there is little person carrying a chicken in between me and the camera. It is all I can do not to yell, "CUT! I can not work under these conditions! SECURITY!!!"
And then I realize I have no security team, and my production team is a bunch of barefoot little girls carrying chickens under their arms and I continue on with the interview, but that explains the nervous twitch.
So, now that our 19 hens (one extra came in the shipment) are giving us these beauties, I thought I would share some of the things we have learned about caring for laying hens.
- Lock them up at night in a safe place with hardware cloth over the windows to prevent varmints from breaking in. We haven't lost any to predators so far.
- They will go inside at sunset once they figure out this is where they are supposed to spend the night. We had to keep ours locked up for a couple of days until they figured it out.
- Make sure they have plenty of cross ventilation. We keep the windows open on all 4 sides of the hen house.
- Let them free range during the day, but give them all the water and laying rations they will eat. Laying rations will keep them healthy and keep the shells from being too fragile.
- We use the "deep litter" method in the hen house and have never had a problem with flies or odor. We plan to use the litter for our garden compost next spring.
- Look for eggs every day when they approach 5 months old. So far we haven't persuaded ours to lay in their nest boxes, but we are working on it!
- We have the nest boxes nailed to the wall about 2 ft. off the ground, and they are filled with hay and each has a golf ball in it to give the ladies the idea of what we are going for. There is a ramp leading up to the boxes and a roof over the top to provide some privacy, but they insist on laying on the hard floor entry way! If you have any tips for getting them to lay in the boxes, I would love it if you let me know in the comments.