Sunday, March 10, 2013

More Projects

I bought some more chickens last weekend, two breeding pairs of Seramas, originating out of Malaysia, and a White Cochin rooster, of Chinese origin. I really wasn't planning on buying any chickens until later this spring, but I just happened upon these on the way out of Atwoods parking lot here in town. They had the Seramas out with them, and Emily asked if they had anymore for sale beside the two pair they had there, and the lady said she only had a White Cochin at home for sale at the moment, and that's when I really got interested because she was only asking about half of what those normally go for around here. That, and momma had been wanting one since we went to Newcastle, Oklahoma to buy some barbwire from this guy. They had a Black Cochin, that basically lived inside their house, and she fell in love with their feathered legs. And, I have been on the hunt for a nice looking one ever since. Also, the lady had been showing the Cochin at livestock shows, and he was bread to be a show chicken. So, that raises his worth almost four fold.
I've been building coops for them nearly all week, there were a couple of days I didn't get to work on them all day, because of family obligations and job interviews, which I officially have a job now. But, I have two of the coops done, and another about a third done, and I will build one more like this one I'm working on, because I like this design better than the first A-frame coop I built. Same basic design and concept, just wider and lower with easier access to everything. Learn from your mistakes I say. The two A-frame coops I'm working on now will be about the same size as the yard portion of the big coop with the external hut, but with the hut built in the top like the narrow A-frame I build first. I love the A-frame design, it allows for maximum ground space for them for forage through the grass, provides adequate nesting space that is raised like the chickens need to feel safe, and yet it is still compact and easy to move around. Although I don't have wheels on any of these, I can easily pick up and move them around where ever I want, which would be made easier if I added some hardcloth to the bottoms so I wouldn't have to remove the chickens when I move the coops. But, I would just as soon go through the trouble of gathering up the chickens rather than have them walking on the hardcloth wires, this gives them a more natural grazing area.
The chickens weren't in bad health, but they did show signs of neglect and over population for the area they had been kept in. The Cochin looked the best of the three, and he looks ten times better now than he did a week ago when we got him, I suppose he got the better treatment since they had been showing him. The other four were missing a few feathers and the vanes were gone from the feather shafts on their wing tips. So, I've been giving them heavy supplements of calcium in their food. Plus giving them treats high in protein and calcium, which has helped tremendously. But, they're still recovering. If they had been in real bad shape, I wouldn't have bothered with them, but they showed good energy and nice muscle structure. And, the didn't have signs of any other aliments or disease. As with any animal, you have to know what to look for when buying them. Some things can be a simple fix, like the calcium deficiency, others can almost be a lost cause and end up costing more time and money that if you had just passed and spent more on a better looking animal. With chickens, pay special attention to their combs and wattles, feet and legs, beak, eyes and their vents/cloaca. Those are the areas where you can find signs of sickness or disease. If you have any doubts, walk away from the purchase without a second thought. It's better to spend double on a good health animal, than to spend thrice on a sick one. Personally, I'm still learning what to look for; what's good, what's bad, and what's acceptable. So, I'm not an authority in any way. But, do your research and learn everything you can about the animal you plan to buying.
Now for the pictures.

The larger A-frame with external hut for the Cochin
Cochin hut with my free range rooster Roger on top
Strut & Rosie, Seramas
Pretty Boy, White Cochin

Kenmore & Maytag, Seramas
Small A-frame with built in roost

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