The girls have been at home in the backyard now for about 3 weeks, and everyone seems to be loving it! We completed the coop extension and additional run space over the course of about 2 weeks. This probably would have been completed a lot sooner had it not been around the holidays. The last tasks we took on completing were staining the extensions and adding the metal roofing. All in all Kevin has been such a good sport! He definitely had to tackle way more construction and modifications than either of us originally anticipated. The original coop was big enough for a few small hens, and we initially planned on selling the extra chicks we ordered. After deciding to keep them we knew we would need the extra space.
Most of our hens transitioned well to being outdoors. The first 3 days they were kept in the coop with fresh food, water, and bedding in hopes of establishing the fact that this was where they would come each night. Their first night out in the run they had a bit of trouble making their way back into the coop, and all huddled up under the small ramp leading to the run. I put each chick back in to the coop that night, but thankfully they had it figured out by their second evening out in the run. I’m glad they caught on fairly quickly -I was a bit worried I’d be stuck loading up hens each night!
One of our Black Australorps began showing signs of declining health shortly after being moved into the outside coop from the brooder. She was very unsteady when standing, would often fall over, was missing feathers under both wings, and was noticeably smaller and more dull in appearance than the other hens. I started treating her with VetRx both in her water and under her wings, and stated to see a very quick turn around for the better. Its been about a week now and not only is she more steady on her feet, she’s gaining more feathers and the existing feathers seems to have a much better luster. As a huge believer in essential oils and plant medicine this was such a joy to see such a speedy recovery only using a product that consist primarily of plant oils!
We had a hawk to spot the hens very quickly; before they were even let out into the run for the first time. Because of this we have only allowed the hens to free range when we are out and about in the yard as well (which is quite often). If we are not out with them, they will stay in the run until they are a bit bigger and have gained a little more weight. We have a few hawks that live in the greenway just behind our home, so this is something we will probably always have to keep an eye out for.
The girls are still eating organic started grower pellets, but they have also figured out that the really good stuff is in the garden! They have helped themselves to leftover kale, Swiss chard, and spinach growing the raised beds over the last few weeks.
A bit of hard work here and there aside, having these hens is becoming more and more of a pleasure and less of a chore. I find myself looking forward to times spent in the yard with them as they become familiar with our family and their surroundings. Our Blue Splash Marans definitely seem to be the most interested in sticking close to me and checking out whatever I’m busy with at the moment. We are so glad to be done with the construction now, and ready to enjoy these hens -and eventually some fresh eggs laid with love!