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Bonus Entry: Rhode Island Reds - Posted March 8, 2021

This bonus entry will discuss the Rhode Island Red chicks I purchased on Friday, March 13, 2020 from the local Tractor Supply Company. I purchased 6 straight-run chicks, which means they were unsexed. Theoretically, I should have gotten 50% male and 50% female chicks (cockerals and pullets). So when I got them, I put them in a large box, in which I'd already put a brooder plate (think hot plate but for baby chickens to keep them warm, much safer than a heat lamp), a chick waterer, and a chick feeder. The 6 chicks were cheepy and happy in there, and they were protected from the elements in my laundry room, and were snug and warm with their brooder. My dog, Max, and cat, Maggie, were fascinated with them, although I of course wouldn't let them anywhere near the chicks. When I'd have to change out the bedding in the box, Max would try his best to get ahold of the new "toys" that I'd bought. Maggie was interested, but not overly so.

The chicks grew, and grew, and grew, and soon outgrew the box. Before they fully outgrew it, they'd gotten large enough to start jumping up and roosting on the top edge of the box, which of course I couldn't allow since they might fall down and become a toy for the eager Max. At the time, I was still working away from home, so they were unmonitored for 9-10 hours a day. I improved a cover out of a sheet of hardware cloth, folded it down along the edges to fit over the box, and this worked perfectly. The chicks stayed inside the box, out of harm's way, and all was well. At least until they were too big to stay in the box. Around this time, my next-door neighbor volunteered to let me borrow a chick cage he had that was about five feet long and about two feet wide (not exact measurements, so could have been larger). It was made from PVC pipe and chicken wire. It was truly a God-send, as I was able to keep them outside in the yard in this, they days were pleasant and mild (end of March/beginning of April by now), and they of course had their brooder to keep them warm. At night, I covered them with a tarp to keep them warm, out of the dew fall, and out of the eyes of possible predators.

My plans had been to build a chicken coop, complete with a run and a house, but my carpentry skills aren't as good as they could be and my time was also at a premium, what with work during the week and my weekends devoted to the hubby. So the hubby and I discussed my options and we decided the best course of action at that time was to puchase an 8 foot x 8 foot enclosure, made specifically for chickens, from Tractor Supply. It cost several hundred dollars, but it was easy to put together, it was sturdy, made of steel, and had optional openings for adding a chicken house onto it. So I purchased it, we picked it up once it was delivered to Tractor Supply, and we put it together. The chicks then moved into it, still in their smaller PVC pipe cage inside the bigger enclosure, but I'd let them run around in the bigger one during the day. Then one weekend, when a tropical storm was being forecast and the hubby didn't come down for one reason or another, I ended up building them a house. It took me literally all day, but I got it done, and they had protection from the storm.

They slowly grew up and got into their ugly adolescent stage. Once they passed that and started turning into the beautiful adults Rhode Island Reds become, it became obvious to me that my "50/50" ratio of male to female was more like "85/15". I somehow ended up with 5 roosters and 1 hen! Only one of the roosters ended up being mean to me - and he also became the flock bully, attacking all four of the other roosters and the single hen. He ended up going into Max's old kennel outside that I never used for him anymore. One of the roosters had a black saddle on his upper back. I ended up calling him Onyx due to that patch. He was a sweetheart. He loved for me to rub his chest when I went into the coop, and he and the sole hen, whom I named Sadie, became bonded. I had it in my mind that I'd kill 4 of the roosters for meat, keep Onyx and Sadie as my breeding pair. Now, although I grew up on a farm, and we raised chickens for meat and eggs, I'd never actually killed a chicken before, let alone butchered one. So while I had these grandiose ideas of how to handle the excess roosters, I knew I'd probably never be able to do that. And sure enough, when the roosters started becoming a problem (the meanest one was separated, but the other roosters were now attacking each other), I was unable to bring myself to put them in the freezer. My neighbor across the street actually knew someone from up around Jackson who raised chickens, and she contacted him. He agreed to drive down on a Saturday and take them off my hands. I'd still planned to keep Onyx and Sadie as my breeding pair. By now, we're into early to mid July. When the guy was on his way down, I got to thinking about it and I decided to say goodbye to Onyx and Sadie as well. While the idea of a breeding pair was nice, I decided I would just start over another time, so with the exception of one rooster who went to the next-door neighbor's sister (also in the Jackson area), Onyx, Sadie, and 3 of the roosters, including the mean one, went with this guy. As far as I know, they're still happily part of his flock, although he could very well have put some or all into his freezer by this point.

On July 31, I ended up going back to Tractor Supply and purchased 6 Golden Comet pullets. Golden Comets are a hybrid breed that lay just about every day and lay large brown eggs, just like the Rhode Island Reds. I've always preferred the taste of brown eggs over white, so I started my flock again that day and fortunately all of the pullets were indeed pullets. I now collect 4-6 large brown eggs daily from my flock. I'll tell their story another day, but for now enjoy the many, many pictures below of the Rhode Island Reds, from day-old chick to four months of age. This is by far the most pictures I've put on this blog so far, so here's hoping it doesn't bog down too much for you, gentle reader! I bid you adieu!

George

































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