Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Babies are in the Coop, Now What?

4-week old chick before the move
The chickie babies are happily moved into their coop.  Next week, we'll allow them to check out outside. It should be interesting watching them explore their new territory. We wanted to teach them where home is first. They are still small so we don't expect them to explore their full 25' run this week, but we've got several independent, adventurous chicken that may. As we've learned, the rest will follow in the coming weeks. The days are still short and cold so it will deter them a bit from ranging too far from the coop. So the plan is to open the coop in the early afternoon when it's warmer.

In blue, 4 county area with us in the middle
So now what? The next step is to order one more 15 lot of Assorted Rainbow Hens from Myers Hatchery. That should give Mel enough eggs, starting this summer, to start selling fresh chicken eggs in a four county area. After that, she'll start her regular chicken farm business with birds and hatching eggs to sell. I might mention that none of the driving distance to the farthest edges of each county is more than 30-45 minute driving distance from home. That's also added into the egg price. She's picked a central location in each county to deliver the eggs to. The customers will meet her on specific days and times to purchase the eggs. Yes, she even went so far to get permission to use the spot from the owners of the property. It's only common courtesy, right?

Off the hand and onto the perch.
She is also going to set up a tent at the county's chemical-free farmers market each Saturday from 8-12. She'll be selling eggs and homestead crafts. We don't yet have a tent, but we do have a patio umbrella and chairs. We have a small, fold up table for crafts and plenty of scrap material to make a table covering with for this season. The coolers with the eggs can be house inside the vehicle to maintain the required coolness of the eggs. Yes, Mel has taken the required egg selling course and is certified to sell eggs. This is required and regulated by the state of Georgia. Although the farmers market is only open until September, she should be able to garner more customers for year around delivery of her products. That's the plan anyhow.

Meanwhile, we'll hit Tractor Supply up during their Chick Days for her breed specialty large pens in lots of 25 chicks each. The shipping is too much from the hatchery. Of course, these are sold in only straight run birds.  All extra roosters will be culled for homestead use this year. It will be quite noisy around here with all those chicks in brooder boxes for four weeks. But we can handle it, we're pros at raising chicks.

Choosing breeds and training chicks...
from Meyers  Hatchery site
Of course, genetics play a part in training chicks. We usually choose breeds for friendliness, fairly docile, and great producers.  Even so, we tend to stay away from the white egg layers preferring brown eggs. It's not that white eggs have less nutritional values, but our customers want nonwhite eggs. To them, standard white eggs can be bought at any grocery store. Customers are willing to pay a premium for colored eggs. We want that market! Our eggs aren't cheap, but they have bright, orange yolks, our chickens are raised in luxury compared to large scale egg producers, and each one (no small task) is lavished with the best food and care. Happy chickens lay healthier, better eggs.

Into the coop you go.
We start training our chicks from the first day they enter our homestead. After the initial water, warmth, and food training, we handle each chick daily. At first, it's just putting our hand in the brooder box and talk to them to get them used to our voices. Over the next few days, each will be handled and brought to our eye level. We talk to them constantly at this point. We check for any illness, poopy butts, pasty butts, and their general health. Any health issues are attended to. We'll do this several times a day until every chick is done at least once. Believe me, it goes faster with less stress to the birds with two people doing this.

Each day, the chicks' tension and fear dissipates. The more adventurous chicks will even run up to your hand when it's introduced into the brooder box. Within a week, they will try to perch on your fingers. It's a lot less stressful for you and them when they do this. Eventually, the whole brood will be fighting for position as soon as the lid
Moving day for you my dear!
comes up to be the first. At this point, you have them trained for life to be people friendly. They trust you not to hurt them so they are more relaxed about being handled. Within a matter of a few weeks, you are firmly imprinted on their minds as care givers to them. It's sort of like raising children, only much quicker.

We'll do the same for any chick or critter on the homestead even adopted ones. And yes, quail are still in the mix too.  Somewhere between the second purchase of hens and the TSC Chick Days we'll have quail eggs in the incubator. Being how small quail are, they can brood in a large tote. So that's the now "what's next" for Mel's chicken farm operation. Hopefully by 2021, she'll have her business producing its own self sustainable, steady income with room to expand farther.

Y'all have a blessed day!
Cockeyed Jo

2 comments:

  1. It sounds like you have an excellent plan in place. I sold eggs for awhile, not many, but it didn't take long to get regular customers who came to me. Extra fun for them when the eggs are different colors. Will it work out that way with your breeds too?

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    1. We wouldn't mind customers coming to us, but our 1/4 mile driveway is a nightmare. The first 200 ft is not our property so when we graveled ours, we couldn't do the top part. Now if they have 4 wheel drive, I say come and get 'em. All the breeds we get for the farm will be layers and roos. We'll sell the babies we incubate at various ages. The same will go for the quail.

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