The first week with my rescue chickens

the egg
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It has been an eventful week here at the backyard farm, it has all been positive though which is great! From Giblets and Apollo taking their first steps outside and seeing the sky to Apollo laying her first egg, things are starting to look better for the chooks!

Weather is also improving, The next week of March will see the planting of a few seeds in my propagator, starting with radish. I have found a source of pre-grown rhubarb to get things started I that department. I will not be growing rhubarb from seed due to the length of time it takes to get them started.

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Seeing the sky for the first time

Apollo and Giblets are rescue chickens, they were destined for chicken soup having spent their prime egg laying days cooped up in tight and often stressful environments, usually warehouses. Having spent their days in these buildings, they will not have seen the sky, at least not properly.

Apollo is a little more brave and had been out for a few minutes before I had time to get the camera. Luckily I captured Giblets first tentative steps out into the big wide world. I believe that when she tilts her head to the side she is looking directly up at the sky.

She appears to be a little taken aback at first before getting back to eating the tasty corn and grain mix. After this Both chickens have been exploring a little further each time, digging out some bugs and other tasty morsels from around the stone flags.

Feathers are now regrowing

Not only are the chickens settling into their backyard abode, the patches of featherless chicken are starting to grow back! The feathers are also growing quickly, showing me again that they are becoming much more relaxed and settled.

As you can see below, the difference is quite substantial for only a few days of being settled in properly. Maybe the extra treats and talking chicken to them has helped them relax! Good fresh water topped with a splash of apple cider vinegar may have also helped stimulate some growth as this is a good all-round substance for most animals, including chickens.

chicken feather compare

What does apple cider vinegar do for chickens

ACV is a great and useful product. It is cheap and widely available from most supermarkets or even pet stores. Like its cousin white vinegar, ACV can be used for cleaning. However, if you can find ACV with its ‘mother’ source it can also be a great source of nutrition for your chickens.

Apple cider vinegar can be used for chickens in:

  • Reducing internal worms
  • Acts as a mild antibiotic
  • Helps maintain a healthy digestive system
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Treats and prevents mites
apple cider vinegar
apple cider vinegar

As you can see ACV can be used to help with a multitude of things when keeping chickens. Well worth keeping a bottle or 2 in the chicken cupboard! Whilst normal ACV is a good and useful supplement unpasteurised ACV is the best, especially for oral uses.

Unpasteurised apple cider vinegar still contains its ‘mother’ which is a source of raw enzymes, gut-friendly bacteria and natural acids that help a multitude of aspects of the chickens life. Such as boosting their immune system and flush out unwanted toxins.

How much apple cider vinegar should I give my chickens?

You should put around 5ml per litre of water into your chickens water. Do this up to 5 times per month to maintain a healthy balance. Although ACV is good for chickens, you can have too much of a good thing.

Cleaning out the chickens

To clean out the chicken coop I use a strong mix of white vinegar and hot water, around 3/10 parts vinegar to water. After clearing out any debris on the floor with a brush and spade, I’ll wash the wooden floor down with this solution.

This cleans out the coop and kills most of the bacteria and ammonia that will have started to build. Although vinegary at first, after some aeration the coop smells clean and sharp, ready for fresh bedding, food and water.

I aim to do this at least once, but preferably twice per week, keeping the coop fresh and clean. Chickens are not filthy animals and will respond better in a well maintained and clean environment.

White Distilled vinegar

White distilled vinegar can be used for chickens in:

  • Cleaning the coop
  • Scrubbing down stone or concrete areas
  • Removing ammonia
  • Killing bacteria, even e.coli and salmonella

First egg from the now free range chickens!

She’s a beauty

Apollo laid her first egg here at the Backyard farm! Needless to say it was great to see as it is further confirmation that they are settling in well.

The egg is on the small side but this is to be expected for the first ones, they will start to develop into slightly larger eggs with harder shells as they get into a good routine.

the egg
The egg!

After giving the chooks some treats including worms 2 days previous I was hoping to have won them over into laying. After cleaning the coop out and putting on a feast of treats including some rocket and spinach, Apollo began to settle into one of the nesting areas.

She was making some noises I had not heard and making an effort to nest. This had me interested. Not wanting to disturb her I went about my chores, checking in on them every now and then.

Once Apollo had jumped down for breakfast, I took the opportunity to check her nest..

Finally, an egg!

Cooking my first egg

Feeling chuffed with the first egg the original plan was to have soldiers and eggs. However, the egg was not very big, so I decided to add it to my meal of home made baked beans & chips. There was not much egg white, but a very good sized yolk. Again, I’m putting this down to it being the first one and they will get better over the next few weeks.

How did it taste

Awesome, the egg yolk was a golden yellow and was very tasty indeed. Rich with flavor and smooth consistency. I am looking forward to the next ones already. These ladies should be pumping out as much as 2 each per day!

Escaped chicken, I thought one had been eaten by a fox!

A near miss, I was worried for a short while though. As the sun went down and the chickens went to roost I had not seen them in around 1 hour. Their usual routine is to roost early on. As it was dark, I decided to get my torch to check they were both in the chicken coop.

Upon shining the light in, I could only see one chicken… After searching the garden, chicken coop and front garden I came to the conclusion she had either been stolen by a fox or wondered into a neighbours garden.

Hoping for the best I decided to let my dog out and get ready to settle down myself.

Found by my dog

I currently have some freshly felled pine logs drying by my back door. As my dog went to go into the back garden she stopped by these logs. At first I though she was just smelling them, after she didn’t move for a minute or so I began to realise that it could be Giblets!

Ushering the pooch away from the logs I looked into the back of the logs I could see my good friend Giblets the elusive chicken! Baring in mind this chicken had barley set foot outside the shed, I was not expecting to find her settling in for the night in the logs around the corner from the coop!

Back in the chicken coop

Needless to say, I picked her up and got Giblets back into the coop. Apollo was had set up nest in one side already, hopefully sitting on another egg so Giblets was set to roost on the other side, again, hopefully she’s feeling like laying some time soon.

Foods they have been eating

I want to give Giblets and Apollo a good mix of foods, once they have their confidence up, im sure they will have majority of their fill on the bugs, larvae and leaves out there. Until then I am introducing them to the finer things in life.

Do chickens like worms

The best thing about living where I do for chickens is that its wet, and muddy! Perfect conditions for what seems to be one of their preferred treats, worms. During some gardening work I unearthed some worms, they did not last 2 seconds in the presence of Apollo and Giblets.

Needless to say they will be filling up on fresh worms from the garden very soon!

Do chickens like salads?

I had some left over salad that was about to turn. This would usually go into my compost bin but with my new chicken friends around, I figured I’d see if they like a but of salad (research had showed me they do).

After some confused pecks and figuring out, they were soon on the way to picking the salad leaves apart.

Do chickens like banana’s?

Banana’s are a great source of vitamins for chickens, they seem to prefer ones that are just going out of date or turning brown. Throwing a few slices in with my chickens feed proved to be an appreciated move and were soon gobbled up!

Even more nutritious and preferred by chickens are the skins according to my research. Boiled or steamed skins, then chopped up will apparently win over any chicken. I’ll be giving this a go and covering it in an article very soon

Did you know?

Everyone loves chicken! There’s nothing better than eating fried chicken with your bare hands like a true meat eater! Eating fried chicken in Gainesville, Florida, you have to eat fried chicken with your bare hands, eating it by any other way is illegal!

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