Saturday, January 5, 2013

Happy 2013 - the year of the egg! (hopefully...)

The turn of the year brought the chickens' three-month birthday.  This is one of their biggest milestones, only to be upstaged by their first lay.  Three months marks the transition to developer feed, and also the point when chickens are supposed to be close to adult-sized.  They no longer require medicated feed because at this point they should have developed immunity to coccidia.  Their new feed is lower in protein than their starter feed, which slams the brakes on their rampant growth.  But they are not quite ready for the calcium-enriched layer feed that can be toxic to birds of their age. In other words, they are all grown up! (almost).

In coop management news, the half coffee chaff/half pine shavings deep litter method is working great, and the odor is de minimis.  We had a minor incident where one of the roosts came off of the holder, but nothing a quick screw and drill can't fix.  However, December rains in Los Angeles have brought with them muddy floors that wash away the straw and cause it to pile at the bottom of the sloped run.  After doing some quick research, we have decided to add a layer of gravel to the run floor for drainage and friction, topped with a fresh layer of straw to help soak up the droppings.  This project is in the works so stayed tuned. 

The rains also revealed another problem:  keeping the food dry and mold free.  We have temporarily used a tent tarp to cover the run (and food) during the rain, but are working on a shelter for the food.  This morning, we walked down to Michletorena Elementary School's community garden.  They have an open house every Saturday morning, and welcome the community to work on the garden and enjoy each other's company.  We were able to go inside the coop and inspect their design.  It is a beautiful coop and a well thought-out design with superb execution, and we intend to replicate their food shelter design in the coming weeks. 

And alas, here is the chickens' three month glamour shots! (Excused the lettuce and beet greens they were snacking on!)

Duchess drinking water

Woodstock being her gorgeous self

Vivian as adventurous as ever

Charlotte keeping it classy in her black and white

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