Thursday, June 12, 2008

instructions for the chicken sitter

We're getting ready to go out of town for five days, so I thought I'd post our instructions for the chicken sitter here on the web instead of writing them on a piece of paper that might get lost on the counter.

Taking care of Sophia and ZsuZsu is really easy... should take no more than five minutes each day (and you get to keep the eggs). If it takes more than five minutes, you're making things too hard on yourself. Here are the things to pay attention to:

TIMING: On busy days, we usually tend to the chickens around supper time as it gives the girls plenty of time to lay their eggs during the rest of the day and we can collect them so they don't sit in the nest overnight.

WATER: Make sure the girls have fresh water daily (especially in this heat). I usually fill up the bowls once a day with fresh water. This is the most critical need of all, as lack of water will kill chickens really quick. Use water from the hose at the spigot along the fence separating our yards. Unhook the bowl by lifting it off the run's wire cage to dump it on the plants nearby, then rehang once it's filled.

FOOD: I've filled their food bowl with enough crumble to last two days, simply make sure it's topped off each day while we're gone. The crumble is in the big 50-lb. bag in the big grey plastic trash can outside the run. The scoop's inside the bag. I generally unhook the bowl from the side of the run and take it to the food bag (less spillage), then rehang the bowl so that it's about chest-high on the birds (same as the water bowl).

EGGS: Collect the eggs daily! You should expect to get two eggs each day, one per hen, but you may only get one, depending on their cycles (one egg per 25 hours). The eggs are generally clean, but we bring the eggs inside and wash them off under running water anyway. If you manage not to eat them right away, refrigerate them within the first 24 hours of collection.

POOP: Simply slide out the bottom tray from underneath the Eglu (there's a little catch at the centerpoint that you lift up to disengage it), then empty the contents in the compost bin tucked over under the cherry tree. I'll turn the compost once I get home, so just dump the poop on top and return the tray to the Eglu. Yes, it's that easy.

IF THE CHICKENS GET OUT DURING THE ABOVE: It's easy to lure them back in using some chicken scratch (in the small brown paper bag with the crumble food). The girls are addicted to the stuff and when they see you reaching for it, they'll come running. Simply take a handful of it and lure them to the front of the run and when they get right up to you, toss the scratch inside the run and close the door behind them.

QUESTIONS? don't hesitate to give us a call on my cell number (you have it).
Thanks for tending to the girls, Lisa. Enjoy the eggs, and I'll take over chicken-tending duties after I get home late late Tuesday night!


Steven Walling said...

Obviously you may not be able to answer for now, being out of town, but I have one question. I've always fed pellets to my trio of hens, not crumbles. This was what most of the books I could find recommended, and the most stores carry (at least here in Oregon). Why do you use crumbles?

Granny Annie said...

It is interesting that you wash the eggs. I have read that washing eggs drives the bacteria into the egg. If the egg is dirty you are supposed to wipe it lightly with a damp paper towel. The egg shell is part of what makes an egg nature's perfect food. The shell is a perfect wrapper. said...

Great list! I can imagine that most pet sitters wouldn't know about your average chicken, so it's important to make sure they visit before you leave and ask any questions they might think of. We have raised chickens for some time, and I recently started offering chicken sitting services in my own's amazing how many people actually have chickens in their back yards!


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