Tag Archive: backyard hens

How To Raise Chickens and Introduce New Chicks

My book “Just a Couple of Chickens” is about learning how to raise chickens the hard way… and these Cuckoo Maran chicks are riveted.

It’s true that chicken raising is easy, kind of,  – and it’s also true that chickens have a pecking order. And it can kill.

Once chicks are fully feathered and growing out of their brooder box, it’s time to figure out how to add them to the existing flock.

In the olden days, (and one modern day on our old farm) the hens would lay the eggs and hatch the chicks. The chicks would shelter in the hen’s body feathers for warmth and protection. She would show them good things to eat and protect them from the other chickens.

When we buy chicks, or hatch them in an incubator, we become the mother hen, and so the flock introduction falls to us.

No amount of counseling can change this aspect of chicken behavior and no chickens are exempt.
Not even ones that are really really sweet and kind.

In larger flocks, we chicken farmers fence off part of the coop with chicken wire and put the new kids behind the wire, with their own food and water. The flock can see and smell them, but not beat them up. We take advantage of the quiet and drowsy nights by putting the new hens in with the whole flock once everyone is roosting, but make sure we are up early enough to separate them before sunrise.

But there’s another possibility with very small flocks…

If the new hens are going into a flock with only a couple of other hens…
and IF the new hens are the same kind as the others (like not bantams with regulars)
and IF you aren’t trying to introduce some bizillion-dollar-rare-breed chick that you can’t afford to lose…

Then it may be possible to just chuck them in, if you start the introduction at night…
and can give the flock plenty of room in the day…
and you can be present to dab wounds with vasoline through out the day…
and can give all the birds tasty and interesting things to distract them…

I know two backyard chicken farmers who have successfully done this, and one of them describes her method in her blog about frugal living – of which I am a big fan.

Managing the introduction carefully will pay off with happy, healthy, not-pecked-to-death chickens.


Pacific Northwest Poultry Association Winter Show 2012

The PNPA Winter Show is VERY worth the visit. Only an hour from Portland, Oregon, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. It’s a great show!

The Pacific Northwest Poultry Association (PNPA) is holding their annual Winter Show this year in Salem, Oregon at the Oregon State Fairgrounds and that means…

Fairy Chickens!

also known as Modern Game Bantams….

Gorgeously, seriously, far-out weird chickens that I have fallen in love with.

We joined the PNPA when we first came to Portland in this way:  Andrew visited Pistils Nursery to see if they wanted to stock my book, Just a Couple of Chickens, in 2010. There he met Michelle Koppe, who is a chicken-networker-raiser-expert-healer of extraordinary skill. Michelle invited me to give a presentation at the PNPA monthly meeting, which I did – about the small business, called www.TheFeatheredEgg.com, that I started in Santa Fe, New Mexico to sell blown eggs and natural feathers from my chickens, which I had ordered in the mail… a bookworthy adventure. That’s what my book was about, and the PNPA gifted us with a membership and we were hooked. We attended their spring show, out in Stevenson, WA, and now their show is down in Salem, in the much larger venue offered by the state fairgrounds.

By attending these shows, masterfully presented by the PNPA, I learned what a good chicken show can offer.
First, surprisingly, is chickens.
Just kidding.
It’s not a surprise, but the range of breeds and their colors and shapes and sizes and glamor is surprising. It’s a great place to learn more about the breeds. Second, it’s a great place to meet people who are doing interesting things in the chicken world, and network, learn, source, discover.

There are ususally birds for sale at these shows, and if not the breed you want, there are people’s phone numbers to collect. There are vendors, selling chicken-related gifts, crafts, equipment. There’s a lovely social scene with family-friendly food, and a raffle that is hard to resist. The breeders auction is a place to buy chicks and older poultry that are not usually available for sale.

This winter show, on October 13 – 14th, 2012, is special because it hosts multiple breed associations as well. A chance to see so much variety under one roof (literally) that it’s a must-see.  For backyard chicken farmers, poultry shows are the very best place to go see what backyard poultry can be. A great place to get a chicken, a great place to learn about chickens without getting a chicken. Or duck. Or Turkey. Or Goose. I love poultry shows, but I especially love THIS poultry show.

(Headsup, if there’s a live rabbit in the raffle… the cage is usually not included…)


Just a couple of chickens wonder where is tour de coops 2012

Tour de Coops 2012? Where is it? Where? It’s on break for 2012? What? What?

Tour de Coops in Portland Oregon is a fantastic self guided tour of backyard chicken coops throughout the city organized by www.growing-gardens.org. The urban chicken movement is strong in Portland, and urban homesteaders and chicken raising masters in the neighborhoods East of the Willamette River have some of the best backyard coops in the business.

The coops are home made, or manufactured, or customized, or pulled together with frugal ingenuity. They are a parade of homes for backyard hens. Anyone wanting to know how to raise chickens in the city would love this tour. I should have taken a tour like this when I was building coops for my chickens, but instead, I re-invented the concept. The results are some of the ruefunniest parts of “Just a Couple of Chickens”, my book on raising chickens the hard way.

I was all ready to go! The Tour de Coops usually takes place in July, and tickets go on sale a couple of weeks before the event and sell out fast. But then I discovered that the organizers of the fun event decided to take a haitus for 2012 and get their ducks in a row regarding how to do next year’s tour.  So I’ve marked my calendar for 2013 and took a little time to look into the details and history of the event.

Growing-gardens.org is an award winning organization that mobilizes voluteers to build local organic raised bed vegetable gardens in low income neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon. They run several outreach programs centered around sustainable food gardens in city environments. They host workshops that help urban homesteaders get started farming in the city.

The 2011 Tour de Coops was the 8th annual and it’s a well-known Portland event. I was particularly looking forward to seeing how people matched their coops to their house architecture. I noticed some very creative coops last year during my walks around town.

I’ll keep watch for the Tour 2013, and maybe by then I’ll have my own coop stashed in my urban farm backyard… not that I’m counting my chicks before they hatch or nuttin’.



Copyright 2012 Corinne Tippett & The Westchester Press
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