Upon arrival I put them right under the heat lamp. Its important to get the heat lamp on right away and to make sure they all start to eat and drink. I carefully dipped each one of their beaks into water and feed to get them started. They had no trouble eating and drinking and were quite lively very fast. The weather was nice when I ordered them so I would take them outside to range in my yard for a few hours every day. They quickly started to outgrow their little home. My friend Bryon told me he knew of an ice shack that was going to be thrown out and asked if I wanted it. I gladly took it as this meant no work constructing a coop.
I put the shack at the very back of our property as I did not want to be sitting out on our back deck eating dinner and smelling chicken poop. I also tried to keep it far away for my neighbors sake of smell. The shack was delivered to my house and I was psyched that it had windows, a door and was on skids so I could move it around very easily. I cut out a small section of wall to give the birds a way in and out and build a little "stairway" for them to come and go as they pleased. I bought some metal posts and some chicken wire for fencing. I did not bury the fence in the ground as was suggested by many . I lay the fence on top and secured it to the metal posts. I did put fencing over the top of the "yard" area so the hawks did not eat them. I had some metal legs from a pop up tent hanging around so I put them together in their yard for an outdoor roost. I waited til about 12 weeks before building an indoor roost. My first indoor roost was built using 2 metal hangers and a piece of bamboo that was hanging around the house. It worked like a charm until I read somewhere to make the roost a flat surface so the birds would stay warmer. So when it started getting cold I took a scrap piece of 2x3 and gave them a nice flat roost for warmth.
During the day I started leaving the gate open so they would get out and free range. I should say that there was not a single tree on our property for them to hide under so they quickly found shelter in my neighbors tree. I would let them out in the morning and they always returned back home at night to their coop. Eventually this got old and I had to build a bigger pen area and keep them there until I got home from work and could ensure they were staying in our yard. I remember the first egg layed. I was very excited to bring it to the house and show my kids. One would think it was the first egg ever laid!
Our small flock of 12 has since grown into 50 hens. And we just received another 36 chicks last week. Our birds have outgrown our small coop and I have set up greenhouse hoops with a reflective tarp to give them more open space, fresh air, plenty of sunshine and green pasture to roam around in. Thanks to our friends at Sunnybrook Farm who loaned us some greenhouse hoops, our total cost for a 12x18 chicken house was $60 for the reflective tarp.
Our eggs are very popular as they are farm fresh from our pastured raised hens. Crack one open and see what a beautiful orange color the yolks are. We sell our eggs right from the farm and they are available for sale at the Atlas Farm Store in S. Deerfield.