Due to some clever predators, our flock of 26 is now down to just 11. Some of those hens are 3-4 yrs old, so they're not laying as many eggs, either. So we placed an order from Murray McMurray Hatchery a few weeks back for more chicks.
To counter the predators, we've had to keep the hens in their fenced yard (30 by 30 feet on either side of the coop, plus they get another 18 by maybe 15 feet that's under the coop, nice and shady, great place for dust baths) instead of letting them out into the rest of our property, so now I have a lot less to look at outside my office window:
The minimum order is 25 chicks, but we really didn't want that many, so I asked around and found a friend who was interested in ordering just 5 chicks (Rhode Island reds), to add to our order.
We wanted 15 female chicks: five barred rocks, five black australorps and five light brahmas. Since we needed another 5 to meet the minimum, I decided to have some fun. :) I ordered a white crested black polish, a golden polish, a partridge cochin (straight run, so we may have a rooster), a mottled houdans, and an Egyptian fayoumis. I dare you to click to enlarge the pictures of the baby chicks on those pages.
I also added an extra Rhode Island red in case one of my friend's died during shipping or soon after arrival. If hers all survive, we'll keep the extra. And McMurray throws in a straight run "rare and unusual" chick for free. It will be fun trying to figure out what it is as it's growing. Last time it turned out to be a golden laced wyandotte rooster. At least, we're pretty sure that's what he was.
We expect the chicks to arrive on Monday or possibly Tuesday at the Earlysville post office. It's always fun to get the call around 7am from them because we can hear the chicks peeping in the background. We needed to get things ready for the chicks, so last week I repaired the brooder cage and put it inside one of the coops. It has a lid so the hens can't get near them. They will have a heat lamp above them to keep them nice and warm till their real feathers start coming in.
This cage-within-a-cage is about 40 inches square and 14 inches deep. The frame is covered in 1/4 inch hardware cloth, and we have particle board around all four sides to keep out the draft. We'll remove those later on. The bottom will have cardboard covered with wood shavings, so we can clean it easily. You can see the feeder for the hens just below the brooder in this picture.