Our Ameraucana Chickens
From Pullets to Hens... Did One Just Crow?
When I was a child, one of my favorite chores was to collect the eggs from the hen house on our farm. When we retired and moved to the country, some of the first animals that I wanted to get were chickens. I wanted to be able to go out each day and gather those healthy eggs from our own free range hens. Every time we would visit the local feed store, I would go and drool over the cute baby chicks.
Unfortunately, several things stood in the way of my little dream and we had to put it on hold for several years. About the time when it looked like we were finally ready to build our movable chicken coop and get some chicks, Hurricane Katrina hit and our whole world was shattered. Now finally, thanks to a gift from a good friend things were put in motion.
Giant Squid Community Fair Winner
Our Ameraucana Chickens won First Prize at the Virtual Giant Squid Community Fair. They thank you for voting for them.
How We Obtained Our Little Flock
We now are proud owners of a small flock of Ameraucana chickens. Many years ago, we raised some chicks that were hatched by the Kindergarten class when we lived in Baton Rouge, but we couldn't keep them in the city so those were given to our friend Margaret, who lived in Covington.
It's funny how things come full circle, because our most recent attempt at keeping chickens began with a plea from Margaret, the same dear friend, who took our Baton Rouge chicks off of our hands so many years ago. She had purchased six baby chicks which had been sexed as pullets (hens) and her husband (a city boy) would not let her keep them. When she tried to give them to her daughter, who already had some chickens, she struck out there, too. So, knowing what nature lovers we were, and also knowing that we had said that some day, we would like to have a few chickens, she asked us to take them.
Baby Chicks First Few Weeks
Here are the 2 1/2 - 3 week old chicks the day after we got them. We kept them on the front porch so that they would be warm and safe. Can you say, "COUN-try"?
At first, we would only fill the bottom part of the feeder, twice a day, but by the time they were 5 weeks old, we had to fill the bottle part up to the top. The bottom of the box was lined with a piece of burlap and newspaper that was covered with a layer of wood chips. They need that kind of surface so that their feet will grow correctly.
Keeping Chickens: The Essential Guide
We really enjoyed reading this book. The full color photos are beautiful and it's filled with good information about raising and keeping chickens.
The two with the white faces now have red feathers.
The cute, fluffy little Ameraucana chicks spent their first 2 months in a giant cardboard box which was covered with large, bottomless cage that had once been a flight cage for Cockatiels. According to our calculations, the chicks hatched out around May 16 (so they may start laying in November). Up until they were about 5 weeks old when they began to get feathers, we kept a lamp clamped to the cage and turned it on when the temperatures were cool. Baby chicks under 3 weeks old should be kept from 85 to 95 degrees F.
Special medicated chick start food is given twice a day and their water bottle is also cleaned and changed at the same time. When the chicks have more feathers than fuzz (at around 6 weeks), they can be moved into an outside coop.
It is recommended that the medicated food be given to the chicks until they are about 4 months old. We were told that there are many diseases that the little ones can perish from if they are not given the medication in the food.
Out in the Chicken Coop
The 8 week old chicks out in the run of their movable coop. In no time, they had eaten all of the weeds and grass.
It took a day or so before they started to use the perches, but once they did, they would go into the "house" at dusk and sleep there until morning. When they were still small, we would close the door to the "house" each night.
Chicken Coop with Outdoor Run
If you aren't handy with a hammer, you may like this ready-made coop.
Why Keep Chickens?
Do you keep chickens? If so why?
And They've Got... Personality!
The two youngest chicks.
As the little ones grew, they started showing individual personalities. The two youngest ones, regularly sparred with each other and when their feathers started coming in, they were more red than the other four. These two are also much larger birds. They are very bossy and are always throwing their weight around. We were always afraid that they were roosters and then when they were about 14 weeks old, one of them crowed. We did not see that it is the larger of the two red ones, until about ten days later.
We really didn't want roosters because we are worried that the crowing will wake us up too early. We already have a Cocker Spaniel that goes off at from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. and we don't need another alarm clock. So far, the little rooster hasn't awakened us, but if he does, having him for Sunday dinner is not an option.
I saw the one in the back crowing, so I'm certain that he is a rooster. The one in the front is shaped like a rooster, but its tail doesn't stand up as much as the one that crowed, but they both have such brilliant colors compared to the hens. We were told that there is a 10% chance of getting a rooster when you buy pullet chicks, but 2 out of 6 figures out to be 33 1/3%. I wonder if they take returns.
Good news, the feed store owner says that he can find a good home for the roosters. We heard both of them crowing. One is quite good at it, but the other is still learning. Both are loud and start crowing at dawn. Al's only stipulation is that they not end up in the stew pot.
We took one rooster to the feed store on a Friday and by Saturday afternoon, he had found a good home with his own flock of pretty hens. Things have quieted down in our flock since he left and the remaining rooster is tending and protecting his hens. We've decided to keep him unless he gets too attentive to the hens and starts harassing them.
No More Roosters
A few months later...
The rooster crows no more in our movable chicken coop. It seems that our remaining rooster was too vigilant in his duties with the hens. The four hens were missing many feathers on their backs and poor Goldie, his favorite, had claw marks and scratches on her back.
The rooster is in a good home and will has his own harim of hens. Hopefully they are free range, so the hens have room to run.
An informative book for the those who want to keep a small flock in the backyard.
The Hens - Goldie and the Girls
The four hens all have similar coloring, but each one has her own special markings and mannerisms. One has a gold head and neck, so I call her Goldie. Goldie is a little smaller than the other hens, but she doesn't let that bother her. One hen is very dark and a little skittish (Gertie), like a wild bird. The other two hens are very similar, except one has a black beard (Henny) and the other has dark ear muffs (Penny).
Sixth Months Old - First Egg
Here are three of the four hens. From left to right you see Henny, Goldie and Penny. Gertie is a little shy so she's not in the picture.
At six months old, Ameraucana hens can start laying eggs. The most common colors are green and blue, but sometimes the eggs will be light peach or pinkish.
Like clock work, at almost exactly 6 months of age Henny, the hen with the black beard, laid a small light peachy-pink egg in the water bowl. Poor baby, she obviously didn't have any idea what was coming out of her. She skipped the next day, but on day three there was another, slightly larger light pink egg on the floor, near where the water bowl used to be. She skipped day four, then on day five, we found the third egg and it was in the box we had mounted for that purpose. After that she started laying every day in the nesting box.
Easter Egg Chicken Eggs Poster on Zazzle
Easter Egg Chickens
Easter Egg Chicken Eggs by naturegirl7
Seven beautiful and healthy Ameraucana (Easter Egg chicken) eggs. Only one of the four hens is laying and we are getting an egg each day. Hopefully in a couple of weeks as the other three hens mature, they'll start laying as well. We are hoping that one or two of them will lay blue or green eggs since we already have one laying peachy-pink ones.
We are so pleased to announce that 2 of our hens lay green-blue eggs. They were the last to begin laying, but you know what they say about saving the best for last. We love the pink eggs, but now, with all four hens laying we get an assortment of colored eggs. Recently they have been providing us with 3-4 eggs a day. Some of them are still in the small category, but since I am on a low cholesterol diet, that's not such a bad thing.
Henny and Penny lay pink eggs and Goldie and Gertie lay the bluish-green ones. At 10 months the hens are all full size and lay almost every day. The eggs are usually in the medium to large range.
We enjoy soft boiled eggs and have found that they are much easier to eat when you use an egg cup like the ones below.
Hot Weather and Laying
The summer has been hot and the hens that lay the blue and green eggs stopped laying for a couple of weeks. Goldie was trying to set. It's normal for hens to stop laying for a few weeks, but it's so odd to see only pink eggs in the egg carton.
Introducing Our 3 New Ameraucana Pullets
The color variations of Ameraucanas never ceases to delight me.
These beautiful girls just began to lay blue and green eggs. The white and gold one in the front is Buffy. The one with the mostly gold head is Cinnamon and the one that you can only see her tail is Brandy. Brandy has a black beard. All are gentle hens.
Their eggs are on the small side compared to the adult hens, but each week, they get a little larger. They are still young, after all, and I wouldn't want them to strain themselves.
Cinnamon, Brandy and Buffy the New Ameraucana Pullets
Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plans
Good plans for both static and movable chicken coops of all sizes can be found here.
Chicken "Tractor" Movable Coop
We were a little late in completing our coop because of weather conditions and a family emergency. We recycled some 16 gauge welded wire flight cages that we had when we used to raise Cockatiels. By cannibalizing the cages we came up with an 8' X 3' X 3' covered run and a 4' X 2' X 3' summer roosting area.
We read that each chicken should be allowed 3 square feet of area in the coop and the run. This current set up has 32 square feet of space for 6 chickens. We put movable pieces of 3/4" plywood around the roosting area and the roof is a piece of sheet metal (which used to be the bottom of the Cockatiel cage), with a large piece of plywood on top.
The whole thing is movable and the bottom of the run is open so the chickens can scratch around for bugs and grass. It doesn't look like much, but it serves the purpose until we can build a larger wooden roosting and nesting area that we'll attach the 8' X 3' X 3' run to, before they are 5 months old and cold weather sets in. There are many predators where we live, so we must keep their coop secure from both air and from digging creatures.
We have drawn up plans for our more permanent wooden nesting and roosting house. It will have a slanted hinged roof so that we can clean it our easily and check for eggs. The dimensions will be 3 feet by 4 feet and about 5 feet tall with 2 foot legs. Two of the legs will have wheels so that we can pick up the attached run and move the whole thing like a wheelbarrow. This way the chickens will have the food of free range hens, but the safety of a cage.
I feel so bad, that now, over a year later, because of an illness in the family, we still have not been able to get the larger, coop built. I've decided to either hire our friend, who is a carpenter, to build it or look into some other modular type structures that I can put together easily. I want my hens to be happy.
Until we can get the new coop built, I am letting the hens out into the garden for a couple of hours each afternoon. Their vitality has improved and they are doing a fabulous job of weeding, tilling (scratching) the soil and ridding the garden of insect pests. As they work through the dormant garden, they also leave fertilizer. As the sun goes down, they go back into the portable coop to roost and I close the door to secure them.
New Hen House
We finally built a new chicken house for our 3 hens. It is a beautiful hen house and greenhouse duplex that makes the old one look like a broken down trailer. Stay tuned for more information!
New Hen House - Greenhouse Duplex - Hens move from trailer to mansion.
Goldie, one of the older hens laying a pink egg in a new nest box
Portable Chicken Coop Vid
Ameraucana's have ear tufts and beards and pea combs. They are also called Easter Egg chickens because they lay green and blue eggs. They are medium sized birds and are said to be good layers. They can begin laying when they are from 5 to 6 months old. The first eggs are small, but will increase in size as they get older. Ours started laying at 6 months and now we can enjoy fresh, home grown organic eggs for omelets, deviled eggs and cakes.
Vintage Green Tail Feathers on Zazzle
Vintage Green Tail Feathers Rooster Cockerel Canvas Print by Biblioartgifts
Links to More Chickens
- Chicken Coop and Greenhouse Construction
The three Ameraucana hens needed a new, larger coop and I wanted a greenhouse with a sink, so my neighbor, Shawn Thompson, who is an excellent carpenter and all around handyman, designed and built my chicken chateau and greenhouse duplex. Now the...
© 2009 Yvonne L. B.