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raising happy, healthy chickens

Getting Started on Having and Raising Chickens

I live in a small town southwest of Oklahoma City, but originally I’m from Dallas, so I’m more familiar with fashion and makeup trends than I am with a farm and chickens. My first experience with chickens was several years ago on my mother-in-law’s ranch in East Texas, unless you count eating chicken. She ordered some Rhode Island Reds, which at the time I had no idea what that meant. I certainly wasn’t aware

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I live in a small town southwest of Oklahoma City, but originally I’m from Dallas, so I’m more familiar with fashion and makeup trends than I am with a farm and chickens. My first experience with chickens was several years ago on my mother-in-law’s ranch in East Texas, unless you count eating chicken. She ordered some Rhode Island Reds, which at the time I had no idea what that meant. I certainly wasn’t aware of all the breeds out there or that I would end up having my very own flock.

OUR FIRST BIRDS: NOT WHAT WE WERE EXPECTING

We inherited our first birds when we moved into our home on an acre. We were told they were Leghorns, were supposed to be good layers, so we were excited, however they didn’t do very much, just laid around most of the day.

We didn’t have a coop either, just more of a temporary shelter which kept critters from getting them since we just recently moved into our home.

We didn’t so much as inherit the eight chickens as someone my husband worked with gifted them to us. The local feed store where he lived, 12 miles from us, told him the birds were Leghorns.

Well, shortly thereafter we did some reading and educated ourselves and soon discovered that what we had were not, in fact, Leghorns at all, but broilers!

Natalie, broiler
Our first hen Natalie was actually a broiler.

After the kids recovered from their disappointment of having named the birds, we changed their diet to what they were supposed to eat, and three months later might have signaled the end of that adventure, but in course of time my daughters and I learned some things about chickens in our time with our lazy, fat broilers.

We soon realized that most of them were cockerels, who I might add, wouldn’t live to see adulthood, although there was one pullet in the mix that we were determined to save from her fate. We called her Natalie.

Our chickens, such as they were, liked to sit or lie in the shade at the fence-line that separates our neighbor’s property from ours. Our neighbor has a couple of dogs, cats, goats, etc. Well, one day when all but Natalie and one cockerel were gone, one of my neighbor’s dogs was busy digging under the fence to get at the broilers.

Natalie was smart for a broiler, smart and different. She didn’t stay in the shade at the fence. She would walk around the property and stop sometimes to look at the chickens on the other side of our property. I often wondered what she would think. Well, when the neighbor’s dog attacked, she got up and ran for cover while her brother got snatched under the fence and perished.

rooster Casanova
This is our first official rooster Casanova, a cream Legbar.

Our neighbor felt very bad about it and vowed to repay us for our loss. With another rooster.

Natalie and her first egg.

Natalie laid her very first egg during the few months that we waited for our new rooster. He was a short little thing, but very colorful with beautiful tail feathers. Being a broiler, Natalie was a lot bigger than Casanova, so it was interesting to watch them together, especially at first.

Casanova and Natalie in their coop at night.

They seemed to get along, and our first experience with a rooster overall was not a bad one, although that started to change when we got chicks.

I’d love to hear your stories about your first chickens or your experiences with them, so please leave comments or feel free to ask questions.

By KS

I breed pure Black Ameraucana chickens and Easter Eggers that are Black Ameraucana mixed with either Cuckoo Maran or Barred Rock. And I donate eggs to people or organizations in need.

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