The weather lately has been abnormally warm for April in Wisconsin. It gets cool at night - sometimes even with a hard frost, so the chicken tractor has heat lamps to make sure the chicks stay nice and warm.
The tractor is completely covered in OSB and chicken wire – including the bottom so no predators can get in (hopefully). I didn’t think it looked very big – but it’s big enough to fit one large adult man :)
Dave also built a “run” for them where they could be outside but protected during the day. The sides have chicken wire; the top has a tarp for shade and flying predator protection.
The chickens seem VERY happy to be outside. There’s more room to run around, fresh air, and the occasionally flying insect or worm to munch on.
Here’s our tally so far on the breeds:
3 Cornish Cross – The only one we named in this group was “Dizzy” (Gillespie) – because he got so big so fast that his cheeks would puff out when he breathed. They were separated from the rest of the chickens for a week so we could monitor their feed, but that’s not practical now that they are outside. I’m hoping they’ll get more exercise! (like we all could use!)
Crip (‘cripple’) – our runt Cornish Cross. He is the only one that is still indoors. He’s grown in the last week, but he’s still about 3 weeks behind in development from the rest. He has a few feathers but enough fluff left that I don’t think he could tolerate the cold temps (40-60ºF). We’re going to keep him in the basement for a while yet and see if it helps him to thrive if he’s alone – with plenty of food and water and no one stepping on him, or pecking at him, or bumping him constantly. (update 4/17- Crip is now gone. He wasn’t thriving so Dave “dispatched” him)
3 unknowns. They all have black and brown feathers – and white breasts. I guess I missed getting a good picture of them – it’s tough to remember when they keep moving around!!
3 Dark Cornish? They have black feathers with brown stripes – and tan faces. One of these was Freckles, but I can’t tell which he is anymore.
6 Buff Orpingtons. The friendliest of the breeds. At least three are pullets (hens). There’s Henrietta /Etta and Henry (in picture?) Hey, I didn’t name them!… they’re the two that always greeted us. They’re more skittish now that we’re no longer at eye level with them. You can really tell the difference between the sexes in this breed – females are much softer and have lighter colored feet and smaller combs.
3 White Rocks. Dave tamed one that ended up as Snowball. Another is Snowflake (because a flake is smaller than a ball).
I’m not sure who this is. We decided we need three colors of leg bands to help us keep it straight.
I love this picture! He is not shy. This guy got into a stare-down with Charlie the other day… and won! That is after he pecked at Charlie’s nose!
3 Silver Laced Wyandotte (all pullets). It’s uncanny how much these look like the Brahmas – but they are a bit darker and don’t have furry feet. This was the breed of hen that Dave really wanted.
Red Star? (3?) In some ways these are a plain looking bird – as they are solid brown with cream-colored faces. It wasn’t until we got them outside that we noticed the reddish tint in their feathers. Very pretty.
Ludwig (was Fauntleroy) – our White-crested Black Polish. He went through a rather ugly adolescent stage, but he’s looking good again with that big white puff on his head. We’re still contemplating having him as our rooster… because he’s just small enough he might not make much of a meal. Plus he’s just so darn cute! :)
Charlie is a tortured soul. He keeps trying to chase, attack or otherwise fluster the birds … and then he gets yelled at by his parents. “But Mom! I’m just doing my job!” (in the picture he’s listening for them inside the tractor)