The Crazy Experiment, Week 4

I didn’t really manage to get as much work done on the homestead as I planned (I am pretty sure that is a problem with ALL homesteaders…), but good things did happen nonetheless.

Chickens

So, crazy things happen when you put new birds out on the “free range” for the first time. They look at you like you are CRAZY.

The broiler chicks have definitely proved that they can put on crazy amounts of weight, doubling in size in both week two and week three. Though this is an impressive feat, I don’t want my chicks miserable, and breaking their legs because they get too fat too fast. So, they all go out in dry weather, with plenty of fresh water, so they can get some exercise and act like a chicken (and yes, it IS a guinea pig cage). It took them about three days to figure out “hey, this isn’t so bad”. After a few hours, some food is brought to them, so they can eat. At night, they are brought back in, mostly because the cage isn’t secured from wily night predators.

Meat birds are fully fledged out. so they get to spend their days free ranging.

Meat birds are fully fledged out. so they get to spend their days free ranging.

This is also the first week that they didn’t double in size. In the case of the monster chicken, that would meat putting him at slaughter weight, which would be NUTS. He did manage to gain over a pound, putting him at 3.62 lbs in the time that I have had him. The others also gained about a pound on average, up to 2.22 lbs from 1.28. Because they grew so much, I actually have to separate them into two cages at night. I can’t believe they need to get to double the size to harvest, as they are total beasts already!

Quails

On to my quails. Even though their new cage hasn’t been built yet, I wanted to pamper them. I had an old dog food dish that I filled with sand, and it was amazing to watch them jump in. I only got one egg this last week. I am pretty sure it has to do with their new environment, all of the changes in the cage, and the fact that they are only getting 20% protein (in the flock raiser instead of their 25-30% that they need). Today I took Poco to tractor supply and picked up some game bird starter. Hopefully the 30% protein gets the job done. I also noticed that my favorite male has a large gash on his chest. This is not typical of quail damage, so I really need to get this situation sorted out with their cage.

Quails love their new sand bath.

Quails love their new sand bath.

Guinea Pigs

Given that I got that 5 foot long cage from my Easter pickup, I set it up in the carport so my breeding groups can get acclimated to being outdoors. It is also a multilevel cage, which allows them to scamper and jump around. As a result of being out in the “cold” (nightly lows in the upper 40’s F), and their newfound exercise, most of the pigs outside experienced some weight loss. I am worried about Charcoal, the black one I got from Petsmart, as she is down 0.12 lbs from last week. I think she is being picked on (by Brownie, mostly). I see her eat and drink, so once I get these guys out the outdoor pen, I will separate her.

The guineas inside are quite happy, all the fresh greens they want, and I catch them scampering back and forth. The cat, Dax, is also a HUGE fan of the fresh greens too, and spends several hours a day trying to get grasses out (never bothering the pigs though).

I want fresh greens, I want fresh greens, must get them away from Guinea Pigs

I want fresh greens, I want fresh greens, must get them away from Guinea Pigs

And yes, the outdoor pen has made a TON of progress. It is painted (to seal the wood) and construction has been finished. All that remains is attaching the hardware cloth (which I am doing now, when I stopped to blog and get water), and finding a new cover for the hutch roof. I also got the linoleum for the bottom of the hutch (on top of plywood for easy cleaning) today. I am also using it for the chickens to stand on inside.

So much work, so little time!

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