Our Backyard Chicken Timeline: The First 6 Months

We’ve passed the first 6 months and all five of our chickens now laying eggs, so it seemed a good time to share some of the major chicken milestones at the Wolske Urban Farm. Perhaps this timeline and the associated picture slideshow will be of value to those thinking about, or just getting started with, backyard chickens. Enjoy!

  • December 3, 2013: The Champaign City Council votes to approve the new chicken ordinance 8 to 1
  • January 1, 2014: The backyard chicken ordinance goes into effect in Champaign, IL
  • February 25, 2014: Angie brings home six 3-day old chicks from Rural King. 1 Buff Orpington (37 grams), 1 Ameraucana (40 grams), 2 Rhode Island Reds (36 & 38 grams), 1 Barred Rock (37 grams), 1 Plymouth Rock (32 grams).
  • March 11, 2014: We add a 1/2″ x 3/4″ stick of wood into the brooder to allow the chicks to start roosting. Buff (163 grams), Ameraucana (127 grams), Reds (116 & 142 grams), Barred Rock (123 grams), Plymouth Rock (137 grams)
  • March 23, 2014: Mayor Don Gerard visits Wolske Urban Farm to meet the pullets.
  • April 7, 2014: Our chickens make the front page of the News Gazette
  • April 13, 2014: Pullets are moved from the indoor brooder  to the new coop in our reconverted shed. Chick food additives (boiled egg, roasted soybeans, flax seed — plus occasional broccoli and beets) is slowly decreased over the next two weeks.
  • April 23, 2014: Pullets start going from the outdoor run to the coop at dusk on their own. Buff (1247 grams), Ameraucana (714 grams), Reds (703 & 830 grams), Barred Rock (774 grams), Plymouth Rock (752 grams)
  • April 26, 2014: We began suspecting the Plymouth Rock, now called Big Bertha, might really be Big Burt — tries to mount other pullets and makes different sounds. By April 30 we’re pretty sure.
  • May 9, 2014: The pullets now have names: Buff (Ginger, 2 lb 7 oz), Ameraucana (Elizabeth Taylor, 2 lb 8 3/8 oz), Reds (Twinny 1, 2 lb 5 3/8 oz; Twinny 2, 2 lb 10 3/8 oz), Barred Rock (Violet, 2 lb 8 3/4 oz), Plymouth Rock (Big Bertha/Burt, 3 lb 14 1/8 oz)
  • May 12, 2014: Chickens free range in the backyard for the first time.
  • May 13, 2014: We hear the first full-on rooster crow
  • May 16, 2014: Big Burt is slaughtered.
  • June 5, 2014: Have a fox standing right outside the door to the annex hutch. Chickens are going crazy. In hindsight, Violet probably had her eyes damaged in the excitement.
  • June 29, 2014: Ginger (3 lb 7 oz), Elizabeth Taylor (3 lb 9 oz), Twinny 1 (3 lb 7 oz), Twinny 2 (3 lb 12 oz), Violet (3 lb 5 oz)
  • July 16, 2014: At 20 1/2 weeks of age, Ginger laid first egg. She lays her second egg July 17th and her third on July 19th.
  • July 20, 2014: Ginger, Twinny 1, and Elizabeth Taylor all lay eggs. Elizabeth Taylor’s eggs are blue, while the others lay different shades of brown.
  • July 22, 2014: Lock chickens into coop for most of the day to encourage chickens to use the nest box to lay eggs instead of scattered around the run and rabbit dorm. Repeat on July 23 & 24.
  • July 24, 2014: Our first 4 egg day as Violet joins the other three layers. Only Twinny 2 is not laying now.
  • August 1, 2014: We move Twinny 2 to our isolation hutch when she draws blood from Violet. Some detective work and reflection lead us to realize: 1) Violet’s klutziness is actually because she is partly blind, making it difficult for her to get on roost, go after and find treats, gracefully get off the deck; and 2) Twinny 2 has reached the top of the pecking order, and although others try to protect Violet from Twinny 2, her partial blindness doesn’t allow her to respond quickly enough to Twinny 2’s attacks.
  • August 9, 2014: Our first 5 egg day!
  • August 12, 2014: We reintroduce Twinny 2, now renamed Jezebel, to the rest of the flock. Twinny 1 and Elizabeth Taylor work to stay between Jezebel and Violet. For her part, Violet is much more skittish, similar to how she had been just before the attack August 1.

About mwolske

I'm a Senior Research Scientist in Community Informatics at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois.
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