Live Life Farm

Enjoying the simple things everyday

Category: Farm Animals

It’s Chick Time!

They are finally here, our spring crop of chicks! Always an enjoyment to watch them grow but the cuteness lasts about a week. Especially, the “Franken chickens,” I swear they go thru their ugly “chickie” phase earlier. Every year we get a batch of about 25 meat chicks and 2-6 egg layers. My kids love to pick the breeds of egg layers, and they have SO many available now!

eating....again

This year we picked up our usual 25 Franken-chickens, sorry, Cornish X. I don’t love this breed but they grow fast and do taste VERY tender. I have some secrets in their care to keep them active and healthy. Last year we could not process them until 12 weeks, they were TINY and VERY mobile and healthy.

We also purchased some leghorns, brahmas, and wyandottes. Those are the gals for egg laying. We’ve had a horrible fox problem this year and my poor chickens are now confined to their run. The fox comes around the minute we let them out and is bold enough now to take them under from us. It’s no secret what our plan is for our fox as it’s because a problem for our farm.

Before arrival, Mia helped me prepare the horse stall. We stripped the horse stall, let it air out for a few days, then add in bedding. And while our cats are great with the hens, I’m afraid they would hunt the chicks…..so I had to wire the stall front to keep the cats (and any other animals) from getting in.  We “might” be a bit over zealous in this department.

little helper

We also mix in “Braggs” Apple cider vinegar like the below to their water. It’s a great product and has helped us to raise healthy and active chicks. When we get our chicks in the mail we often will add in 1 tablet of electrolytes for the first few days.

These are great eletrolytes

We do not use “medicated” feed for our chicks are we plan on consuming them once they grow big, fat, and juicy.  We also do not keep them in the stall their entire life. They will go out once they feather in and we rotate the grazing grounds yearly to avoid disease.  More on that in a few weeks.

Heat lamps are very important. Because they don’t have the protective feathering yet they either need a broody hen or a heat lamp. The first week it needs to be quite low and at 95 F. Every week it can be raised but depends on outside temps. For now, I have them low and our stall is large enough that they can move away from the heat. They DO self-regulate. You will notice the heat is not strong enough if they are huddled and piled on-top of one another. If spread out you can raise the heat a bit. I have some that are 4 days younger so I’m letting them move to and away from the heat as they would like.

Once they arrive we dip their beaks into the ACV water and put the under the lights. Mia LOVE to help with this, and she’s done a great job the past few years. Yes, she is only 3 but a natural animal handler.

chick helper

Everyone enjoys chick time! It’s so much fun watching them grow. A huge labor of love and my kids all take part in the help.

checking out the flock

I mean, really, how can you get too much of this?

golden wyandotte

Or this!

running around

 

The Herd Has Spring Fever | Horse pasture

We run a small horse boarding farm that has proven to be a lot of work but a great payoff. We have met some great friends and learned a lot along the way. I have been involved with horses for the past 25 years and even started a farm sitting business when in college. Having my horses at home has been fun, but more work than riding!

People think that the big grazers are cattle, but a horse is the TRUE hay burner. They will eat more than any animal I have met. Our farm has a unique structure. We have 2 small herds of horses that we rotate between pastures. Each herd has 2 pastures. They eat on 1 pasture for a week and then we rotate to the other. This helps keep worm loads down and grass levels up. Our pastures rarely are eaten down. We do mow to keep the weeds down. Horses are finicky and prefer limited forages.

The biggest problem that we have is spring grass introduction. Some horses can handle immediate forage for 24 hours, but we limit them for many reasons. Overload of spring grass can cause grass founder and colic and other issues. We have “dry lots” that contain little to no grass that they stay in once the snow has melted, letting our pastures rest and grow. Once the grass is a few inches tall we start at 1 hour per day and increase in 1/2 to hourly increments per day. During this period, we are checking to be sure we do not see evidence of overeating. Loose stool is a common indicator of overeating!

Here is a picture of “Breezy” in our pasture during our first turnout on spring grass. They are always so happy to get out in the pasture for the first time and act like a kid in a candy store.

Spring fever

Later in the spring our grass grows FAST! So fast they bury their heads in the grass.
Lucy enjoying a nice spring day.

DSC_0004

Fall is a time to load up for winter. We had a pretty morning last fall and I had to run out and take some pictures.

Fall follies

The big guy

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