Barn Transformation

Barn Transformation

Hey Friends!!

When we moved to our property the red barn was already there! We were so grateful to have a barn we could use and keep animals in. We build out home and the only location for it was basically right in from of the barn. This kind of makes both building be very close to each other. Don’t get me wrong, i love a red barn, but this one in particular did not have a ton of character so we decided to paint it!!

It’s now white and matches out house and i LOVE it!! It’s so pretty!! Below are a few pointers of the process and what we did! Hope it helps!!

Step 1- Color

Decide on color! We wanted to match our home color which is Sherwin Williams Pure White. It’s quite white but does have a hint of cream so it’s a more warm white than cool white if that makes sense.

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Step 2- Paint

We actually used a primer called Bulls Eye 123. It was recommended by our friend who helped us paint the barn. It sticks SO well. Does not scratch or mold etc. It goes on super smooth and has great coverage. Our barn was bright red and I was concerned about it being white and not pink, ha! but this worked like a charm. I do feel it’s best to use it on metal and not wood, but we did paint our chicken coop with it and it worked well there too. See the manufacturer description below.

This premium, whole-house primer-sealer provides outstanding results, with low odor, as well as great flow and leveling. Water-based, acrylic primer delivers flexible use to stick to all surfaces without sanding whether you're working indoors or outdoors. The durable formula resists mold and mildew and inhibits rust for results that last. Quick-drying design dries in just one hour to apply additional layers with a minimal wait time.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer, 1 Each (Quantity) 

  • Multi-surface design sticks to all surfaces without sanding

  • Acrylic formula offers great flow and leveling for consistent application

  • Durable formula resists mold/mildew and inhibits rust for lasting results

  • Quick-drying to let you quickly apply additional layers

  • Perfect for glossy surfaces, chalky siding, metal and more

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Here’s the tricky part. It IS tintable which means you can match it to the color you like. HOWEVER!!! They don’t have this labeled as “paint” so when you have them add color to it they get all confused. This is what you must do.

  1. Have them in their system pretend this primer is just a standard gallon of paint. Could be any brand.

  2. Then ( this part is VERY IMPORTANT) have them match the color you want by only 50% to start. This is because the primer grabs onto paint quite well. If you match the color 100% it might be too strong. I would reccoment you take a swatch of the color you want, have them match this primer by 50% and have them actually glob the color onto something and let it dry so you can compare. If the color is still to light have them do 75% of the formula and so on until you decide it’s the color you want.

  3. Coats- we did 3 coats on the front and 2 coats everywhere else. It definitely requires more than 1 coat for full coverage. Only do a thin but even layer at a time. It does tend to drip it you lay it on too thick so just do it evenly.

  4. Amount of paint. Our barn is approximately 40x50 and we used about 9 gallons total to paint it. 3 Coats on the front and 2 everywhere else!

  5. It dries quick, within 1 hour. So I suggest starting where the sun is not hitting it directly so it doesn’t dry super fast as you paint.

Step 3- Application

Before painting you must pressure wash. We pressure washed about a day before we knew we were painting so the barn was as clean as possible!

Our friend used a paint sprayer. He used an older one which is now discontinued. The one linked below is similar to the one he used. CLICK HERE I think this ensures the best and most even application.




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Step 4 Cost- Estimated cost if buying all the supplies.

Paint- Around $200

Paint Sprayer $450

Labor 8 hours.

CONCLUSION: We LOVE IT!! We still have to add lights and some accents but overall we are very happy! We’ll add some greenery and such to also break up all the white, but it looks like a brand new building now! Let me know if you have questions!!

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a few winters ago before we had the retaining wall, greenhouse, and before it was white!!

a few winters ago before we had the retaining wall, greenhouse, and before it was white!!

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Duckling Care 101

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Hey Friends! This post is a long time coming!! This is the second spring I raised baby ducks and although I am still 100% learning and NO expert I figured I should share with you what I’ve learned and hopefully help you on your duckling journey!

First let me start by saying that ducklings are one of the cutest most precious creations there is! However, they are VERY messy. I had NO idea how messy. They also grow very quickly and those cute little babies will be loud teenagers in no time. Keep in mind that getting ducklings is a commitment but if you stick with it and have a little patience they will be one of your most cherished animals for years to come!


BROODER

First things first! You need a brooder. Same idea as with chickens. I like to use some sort of plastic container. Most of the supplies other than the plastic container come from Tractor Supply

Large Storage Bin from Amazon CLICK HERE ( I always have 2, will explain why later)

Heat Lamp such as this one CLICK HERE ( Always have an extra pack of bulbs in case one goes out)

Click HERE for bulbs

Food Container like this CLICK HERE

Water Container like this CLICK HERE

All my ducklings have loved having some sort of stuffed animal they can sleep against. So I used a little stuffed alpaca. Be warned it will get very messy and dirty and you’ll have to wash it but they do love it and I think it’s comforting to them.

I will say however that we also have a traditional chicken brooder made out of wood ( see below) and I just raised our goslings in it. I actually think I prefer this best for ducklings in the future. It has airflow on the bottom and allows the whole coop to “breathe” which in turn makes it less messy and stinky. So if you happen to have one of them or can make one that would be a great option too! Pictured below on the left is the duck brooder and on the right the chicken one. However, If you have one like the one on the right I’d say that would work well for ducks as well!

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When you get your ducklings they will be just a few days to a week old! In a short 8 weeks they will look like full size ducks and be HUGE! Be prepared.

Below is the brooder set up I had inside our home the first time we got ducks.

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NUTRITION

There are feeds out there which are specific to ducks you can buy such as below. They are however more expensive and harder to find sometimes.

Duckling Started feed

For that reason you can absolutely use chick starter feed with a few tweaks.

Use ONLY NON-MEDICATED chick started feed. I use an organic one such as the one below.

Organic Chick Starter

Ducklings should be fed 21%-22% protein chick starter with a niacin supplement until 2 weeks of age.  From 2 weeks till they are around 6 months (or until the first egg is laid) they should eat 16% – 18% chick starter crumbles with a niacin supplement.  If you can’t find a low enough protein blend then add , a little uncooked rolled oats (breakfast-type oatmeal) to lower the protein content. The chick started listed above is 19% so it’s a good middle ground. If you start noticing their wings falling down and inability to move properly ( a condition called Angel Wing) Immediately give them a lower protein food. Or mix in uncooked oats and allow them to free range more.

To all your feed you MUST add brewers yeast in order for them to get enough niacin in their diet. If they don’t have enough of this they will develop complications with their legs. Their muscles don’t develop well and they end up crippled or worse. The easiest way is to mix some of the brewers yeast into their feed. You cannot overdose them on this. If you’ve got chickens in with your ducks it will not affect the chickens negatively so essentially they ca eat the same thing.

Grit- If in a brooder and not on grass or free ranging ducklings will need some grits to digest their food. I usually just add some in to their feed mixture.

Something like this works well. Chick Grit

At about 2 weeks of age you can start giving some greens and treats. My ducklings have all LOVED peas. Frozen peas as adults and when they are still little I just blend them up. Lots of fruit can give them diarrhea so stick with greens stuff and just the occasional fruit treats.

Do treats at around the same time each day so they associate you with something yummy. They will learn to come up to you and even eat from your hand if you do this.

Once they are 6 months of age they can eat the regular chicken layer pellets.

CLEANLINESS/WATER

Ok friends, I cannot emphasize this enough. You MUST keep their brooder and water areas clean. That is super HARD to do! What has worked best for me is to do the following.

Line the brooder ( Unless you are using one that has chicken wire on the bottom and can “breathe”) with a couple puppy pads. Yes, the ones you potty train puppies on. This will allow them to soak up the water and poop the ducklings spill and makes it less messy if you will.

On top of that I put either straw or fresh pine shavings. I have used both, either works.

They must have fresh water at all times. For their water it has worked for me to place a round cookie sheet under the waterer. Use one that is bigger than the waterer and it will catch some of the spills. You can also use a plastic houseplant tray to catch all the spills. I have used MANY methods of waterers and such. I have found a simple one to be the best. Anything deeper and they will try to swim in it and make a bigger mess.

Some people use chicken wire over a paint tray and then place the water on that. It can help catch the water. I have not found this to work particularly well and it takes up more room. It’s an option however!

For 5 or fewer ducklings, a quart-size chick fount will work till they are about 2 weeks of age; for more ducklings or older birds, a gallon fount will be a more appropriate size.  You’ll know if you need a larger waterer if you need to fill more than once per day. They need to be able to dip their beak fully under water to clear their nostrils.

As they get bigger you can elevate their water on a brick or such so they don’t step in it and get shavings and poop in their waster.

You must clean the brooder and change water AT LEAST once a day. I’d say I do it usually twice a day to make sure it’s clean and they have fresh water. This might sound excessive but trust me it’s not.



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Swimming

Ducks are of course great swimmers and love to have water nearby. You do not need to have a pond or fresh water source in order to have ducks. A simple kid pool from the store will do. They love love love to swing and play in it. Of course a pond is nice as well but anyone can have ducks even if you don’t have one! Please do have a source for them however so they can bathe and do duck things. You will have such happier ducks if you do so!

Wait one week until you place the ducklings to swim. When you do you must ensure they can touch the bottom as they will tire out quickly and could drown. Do not let them swim unsupervised. Once they are 5-6 weeks old and the oil in their feathers had developed they can swim unsupervised. I have let them swim in my bathtub and it s hilarious.

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Heat

Ducks are MUCH more resilient than chickens when it comes to weather. They grow so quick they can tolerate cold and high heat much better. With that in mind however they will need some sort of heat lamp the first few weeks. After 2 weeks they will be much better anad unless it’s super cold they are albe to do well. General rule of thumb is a temperature of 90-92 degrees for the first 3 days, then 85-90 degrees for days 4 to 7. Thereafter, drop the temperature by approximately 5 degrees per week until they are fully feathered.Place the heat lamp to one side of the brooder so they can move away from the heat if they are too hot. Do not let them overheat. They do not like it when it’s too hot and they will pant and drop their wings when they are overheated.


Playtime

Ducks are some of the sweetest animals. They are funny and have big personalities. When ducklings they will literally snuggle with you every night! With our first set of ducklings I held them every night. Once they reach about 4 weeks old they will no longer be interested in snuggles and will be loud and running around. Enjoy the snuggles as much as possible!

Once they start eating treats give them some around the same time each day. They will associate you with the treats and come running! :)

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It will take about 8 weeks for your ducklings to look full grown. Remember to offer them a safe place to sleep at night with lots of straw to lay on. Give them plenty of fresh water and if you let them free range they will love eating up all your bugs and slugs! They are wonderful animals and I say everyone should own a duck at least once in their life.

If you have specific questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me!!

xoxo:

Annette




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Pearl's Story

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Originally Written September 11, 2017

Many of you have asked about Pearl and her story, so I figured it was time to post about it! 

When we purchased our Alpacas back in April I knew Queen Elizabeth was pregnant. Her due date was set for around September 15 or so. An alpaca's gestation is typically about 355 days. 

On Wednesday August 16, 2017 I had scheduled the vet to come out to our farm and just do a general checkup on our animals. Since I knew QE ( short for Queen Elizabeth) was due in a month I wanted to make sure all was well. We have never had alpacas or any farm animals for that matter, so being prepared was on the top of my list. I had watched several alpaca birthing videos on youtube and I had spoken to a few people but that's about it. It is said that 90% of alpaca births require no intervention, I was hoping that would be the case. 

The vet was scheduled to come at 10am. At around 9am I decided to go out to the alpaca. Usually by that time I see them grazing in the pasture but on that day they were not. I found that odd and for that reason also went down to look at them. When I approached I saw they were all gathered around each other and QE was on the ground. I found that odd. At this point I did not have my contacts in yet so my vision was definitely not 20/20. Upon approaching closer I saw what looked like a white pouf on the ground. I thought to myself " no way, that can't be a baby, it's not due for a month!" Well, it sure was! A tiny baby alpaca who appeared to have JUST been born! She still had stuff all in her mouth and nose and my nurse instincts kicked in! I cleaned her nose and mouth with my hands, she was breathing but appeared very weak. I immediately called the vet to ensure she was coming. She said yes, and to keep her warm and stay with her. I ran to the house, grabbed a towel, and came back. Dried the baby off and then waited. 

See pics below of when I first walked up to the baby. 

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I couldn't believe it!! I had all these plans for September and all of a sudden the baby was here. I was NOT ready. I have realized though that God's plans are never our plans and we must always trust Him. What an amazing coincidence that the vet had been scheduled to come out the same day the baby was born. It's like God had that all planned out for me. The vet arrived. She was amazing and SO helpful.  She immediately told me the baby was definitely a premie. No teeth, little hooves were not fully developed and ears were fallen down ( all signs of being premature) Concerns that would come along with that are a weakened immune system, undeveloped lungs, and being underweight. Baby weighed a whopping 7.5lbs!! SO TINY!! Alpakita, our little 5 month old Alpaca weighed 17lbs when she was born! Normal birth weight is 12-20lbs. Sweet baby was way underweight. On a happy note though it was a GIRL! yay! First baby born on the farm and a little girl. I was so thrilled but yet so worried. 

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QE seemed to be in a lot of pain. Unable to really move and was panting and appeared so uncomfortable. The vet gave her antibiotics and pain medicine. A huge concern was the fact that baby must drink milk from mom within a couple hours after being born. Same as human babies the colostrum is super important to help them survive and give them the adequate immune boosting benefits. However since the baby was a premie and mom was SO uncomfortable there was no milk yet. My sweet dad ran to the tractor supply store to buy some cow colostrum. He brought it back to me and we mixed up a tiny bottle for the baby. 

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The vet mentioned I must feed the baby about 2 ounces every 2-3 hours round the clock in order for her to survive. I would also have to ensure mom delivered the placenta within 4-5 hours after the birth. On this particular day my husband was out of town, my mom was out of town, and although my dad was helping as best he could I felt quite overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring of this tiny baby all by myself. By the end of the day she had gotten up walked around, but could barely hold herself up. Mom had no milk, I checked and kept trying to milk mom to get something out. Nothing. I learned more about God and His love for us that day than I did in a long time. I had so many plans for when this little alpaca would be born and she came a whole month early. Baby girl was a fighter. Seeing her try to learn her way around was the cutest thing ever! I was so worried though.  QE and her were having a hard time bonding, I was afraid she'd be cold, what if the other alpacas hurt her, then I realized I was trying to do it all myself and not trusting in His protection and power. I was so humbled. God made this beautiful little creature and He would would care for it. Baby girl was in His care, as are we when we put our trust in Him. 

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Picture above is about 6 hours after she was born. For the next two days until Friday I kept watch on her and fed her every 3 hours. I felt pretty sleep deprived. On Friday QE finally started getting milk! I was so excited. However, baby girl was so weak she could not stand to nurse. So I would hold her up to mom and try to get her to nurse, while supplementing her with bottles of formula. 24 hours after her birth I switched her to regular whole cow's milk. I also mixed it at times with a little bit of yogurt to give her some probiotics. I had never researched and read so much to learn what on earth to do with this baby than I did that week. 

Friday afternoon I came up to her and took her temperature. Baby alpacas cannot regulate their temperature for the first 72 hours so you have to make sure they stay between 100-102 degrees. She was 103.7. She was also very weak and lethargic. Not moving and not wanting to drink from her bottle. This change happened during the course of maybe 3 hours. I immediately called the vet. I was afraid we would loose her. It all literally happened so fast. The vet came and by that point baby girl was not responding and shaking pretty badly. I was so sad. After 2 days of caring for her and feeling she was better I felt we were taking steps back. Vet said it seemed like an infection due to her being a premie. So she gave her antibiotics and left me with 10 days worth of antibiotic shots to give her. 

I felt so overwhelmed again. I continued to pray. For the next 3 days I fed her every 3 hours round the clock. Getting up at 2 am and 5 am was quite crazy. I don't have children of my own but I felt for a moment like a new mom feeding her infant. However, a new mom would at least be in her warm home and not have to walk down the hill to the barn, with bugs and flashlights:) 

Finally by Monday, her and QE were bonding more and more. She was getting strong enough to get up and nurse herself! I would only have to prompt her to eat every so often. Mom seemed great too! Baby Alpacas should gain between 1/4-1/2 a pound a day. By week 1 she was 10.6lbs! Growing and jumping around. I continued the antibiotics for 10 days and supplemented as needed. Now she is a day shy of 4 weeks old! She is almost 17lbs and doing amazing!! What an experience! I am so grateful to God for His protection over these sweet animals. I only hope I can care for them and love them the best I can. We have had such fun watching her grow and run around. The animals are truly a blessing and I look forward to many more moments with them. There is so much more I could say about her birth story, but this blog post is getting super long. I I will end with her name which is Pearl. My sister in law recommended it and I loved it immediately. She is white and fluffy and Pearl just suited her. I then remembered there was a story in the Bible about a pearl. It is found in Matthew 13:45-46. It talks about how the kingdom of heaven is like a Pearl. Something of great value. A man once he found that Pearl sold everything he had and bought it. What a beautiful significance. We should constantly be seeking that Pearl, longing for God and His kingdom. I hope our sweet baby Pearl is a reminder of that to us. 

I leave you with a few more pictures of her:) 

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Write here…

NOTE: Almost a year and a half after I wrote this blog post we found my sweet Pearl had died overnight one morning. She had been healthy up until that point. It was devastating, but the joy she brought us for over a year was worth it even when she was gone. She was a sweet little one and will be forever missed.





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Baby Chicks 101

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Last year we decided to buy some baby chicks and venture into the world of chickens. It has been quite the fun adventure! However, when we first started and had NO clue I wish there had been a guide to help me along the way. I looked up many resources on pinterest and google, but none really included it all. So here we go! This is the most comprehensive guide I could put together! I I'm gonna go ahead and say it's HARD work the first 4 weeks! However, its so fun and you will have beautiful chickens a result. These are of course the things I learned and did. I'm sure there's lots of tricks out there. I will say though that all 17 of our girls survived and are very healthy and friendly! You'll need about $100 or less to to start and It's fun for sure.  Stay tuned for a post later this week on all the how to's of a chicken coop and run! 

1. )Before you get the chicks.

Before you purchase chicks you must have a brooder and food ready. I had NO idea what a brooder actually was, but it's not so hard once you know what to get. 

- Get a big plastic tub from Walmart - like the really big ones ( GET 2, I will explain later ) Some use just a regular box, but this will get wet, dirty, and be hard to clean. I liked the plastic tub the best. I wanted a clear one so they could see out and get light from the outside window into their brooder.T The one I got was a bit bigger than this because we got 17 chicken, so you decide which is best for you.  Click Here

- Heat Lamp like this one from Tractor Supply Click Here

- Bulbs for the heat lamp. Click Here

- Food containers like these from Tractor Supply Click Here

-Water Container- Click Here  and Here   

- Fresh Bedding ( pine shavings work great) However, the first week or so you might want to do n.ewspaper with some paper towel on top. They try to eat the pine shavings at first. Click Here

- Chick starter Feed  Click Here- we chose to do organic and non-gmo feed

- Chick Grit Click Here

-Chicken Coop: You will need a chicken coop. However, you won't need this till like week 4-5 or so. So either have it ready or start working on it and have it ready to transplant the baby chicks to when they are ready.

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2.) Where to order from?

You can purchase chicks directly from Tractor Supply during their chick days!! Click Here for more information. 

There are also many reputable hatcheries out there. We used one a friend recommended called Murray McMurray Hatchery. Click Here

 The chicks will arrive by mail. Yes! The post office mail. They are shipped day after they are born in a tiny little box. We went ahead and ordered the box with chick started and whatever else they offered to go in the box to supplement them till they arrived. Be warned, I have heard many times not all the chickens survive being shipped. So consider this if opening the box around children, etc. Order maybe a couple more chicks than you anticipated in case something happens to one of them. I can say we ordered quite a few more " just in case" and all our girls survived and we are now thrilled to have all 17 of them. 

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3.) When the chicks arrive

When the little babies arrive they will be VERY thirsty. 

- You must immediately take each on of them and dip their beaks into the water bowl so they will drink water. This is most important and can be fatal to the chicks if you don't. 

- I added electrolytes and probiotics to their water for the first couple weeks to help their tummies acclimate and give them proper hydration. Here are the ones I used. 

- Place the baby chicks in the brooder. 

4.) Heat lamp

- Make sure your heat lamp is on to provide warmth. This whole topic confused me because  I didn't know exactly how high to hang it etc. Here's some pointers. I hung the lamp on a ladder next to the brooder. That was my easiest way to clamp it to something and then raise it up and down.

-Keep the lamp on just one end of the brooder. This way if they are too hot, they can move to the opposite side and cool down. I placed their food and water on the right side and the heat lamp on the left. 

- Learn from the chicks. If they are constantly on the warm side of the brooder, they are probably on the colder side and need the warmth. 

- If they are hanging out on the opposite side of the light, they are probably too hot and it's time to raise the heat lamp. 

- Every week for the first 5 weeks they will need this lamp. Each week just raise it higher ( by like 3-5 inches ) until the chicks have their true feathers in and they can regulate their body temperatures. You want the weather outside to be around 70 degrees and definitely not lower than 60 at night

5.) Brooder cleaning

- I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to keep the brooder clean.

-I changed out the pine shavings at least 3 times a week. 

- Change their water out twice daily to ensure it is fresh without food or poop in it. 

-The worst thing for their respiratory system is to have wet bedding. This produces an ammonia like smell which can damage their lungs. Be a neat freak for these first 4-5 weeks. 

-Tip for cleaning the brooder which helped me a TON. Have 2 Brooders!! The chicks will all be in their dirty one. Simple get your second brooder filled with fresh pine shavings and have it ready. Then just move the chicks over to the clean one, and move their water food etc. Now you can easily empty the dirty brooder and really clean it. It's VERY hard, almost impossible to change out pine shavings etc with all the chicks in there. Get 2 plastic tubs, trust me, it will help you a TON. 

This was the alternate tub I used. It was slightly smaller so I ended up putting them all back in the bigger one when done, but it gave me a place to put all 17 of them when cleaning the brooder. In heinseight I would have just had 2 brooders the same size and no need to move them again.

This was the alternate tub I used. It was slightly smaller so I ended up putting them all back in the bigger one when done, but it gave me a place to put all 17 of them when cleaning the brooder. In heinseight I would have just had 2 brooders the same size and no need to move them again.

6.) A note on Pasty Butt- y'all this was the craziest thing! I was like what on earth is it?? It's a condition they might get the first 1-2 weeks. This will probably only happen with chicks that are shipped. With the stress of being shipped they kind of clog up and can't poop properly. Their little behinds will have crusted poop stuck to them. When this happens they can't excrete properly and it's a life threatening condition. ( google it, you'll see plenty of pics) 

What to do? Clean their little bottoms. Just soak their bottoms in warm water and very gently rub it off and clean them. You can even rub a little olive oil on their bottoms to prevent things from sticking again. After about a week they will be developed enough where this is not a problem. I did this for about 2 of our 17 chicks. I don't even know if it was even truly bad enough, but I didn't want to take a chance so on a saturday night my husband and I washed tiny baby chicken butts ( insert laughter here)

 

BREAKDOWN BY WEEK OF WHAT TO DO

*Week 1- They are SO cute!! Just keep things clean and warm and enjoy their cute chirping sounds.

 Heat: Ensure their heat is around 90 degrees. This means the heat lamp will be right about 8-12 inches above the brooder. 

Brooder: You can have newspaper with lots of paper towels on top for this first week. 

Activity- Don't handle them too much the first couple days after they arrive ( except for showing them where the water and food are) They will be very stressed and need to rest. Expect them to sleep a ton this first week. By day 3 you can start to pick them up, etc. 

Food- Ensure they have probiotics and electrolytes in their water. Give plenty of chick feed and ensure their water is fresh. 

Click Here for probiotic

Click Here for electrolyte 

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*Week 2- They are ready to be handled. Touch them as much as possible. This was hard for me because we had 17 of them! Giving each of them quality time was hard. Some of course got held more than others and I will say the ones that were held the most are the most friendly now. I would sing to them every night and have them sleep on my lap:) 

Heat: Raise your heat lamp some so that it's around 85 degrees or so. This means up by 3-5"

Brooder: Add pine shavings to their brooder. Should be about 2" deep. They will love running around and moving it around. I still did newspaper on the lowest layer, then pine shavings on top. Also, at week 2-3 you'll want to start covering the brooder because they are sneaky and will try to fly out. Just cut some chicken wire to sit on top, then put a 2x4 across to hold it down. 

Activity: Give them a little perch to stand on, or a rock to climb on top of. I even put a mirror in their brooder so they could look at themselves. They are very curious and love entertainment. Another thing I did was put a feather duster in there. A few of them really loved going under it. It mimics them laying under their mother's wings and helps them feel safe. 

Food:

- Give them chick grit. This can be either mixed into their food a bit, or I had a very tiny separate bowl and they would pick off of it. This is essential for their digestion, etc. Put feed on your hand so they will start learning how to eat out of your hand. 

- Give lots and lots of fresh clean water. I probably changed their water out twice a day. No need for electrolytes or probiotics anymore. 

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*Week 3- Y'all they grow quick!! You'll see lots and lots of new feathers coming in! 

 Heat: Raise your heat lamp again so it's about 80 degrees.  Raise by 3-5 more inches. 

Brooder: Keep it clean by replacing your pine shavings 2-3 times a week. Clean water and food dishes with diluted vinegar to keep bacteria down, etc. 

Activity: Keep them entertained. Make sure they have pieces of wood to start roosting on, little rocks to peck and move around, plus anything else you can think of for them to play with. 

Food:

-You'll probably want to Raise the chicken water and feeder up higher. Place them up on a piece of wood or something that prevents them from being ground level. If they are not up higher there will be poop all in your water and feed and it's a hot mess. 

- I started giving them lots of fresh treats around 3 weeks of age. Such as berries, and leafy green's etc. They absolutely LOVED this along with their regular chick starter food. 

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*Week 4- Time to see the outside world!! If the weather outside is around 70+ degree's they are ready. 

Heat: Move lamp up to where it's about 75 degree's in their brooder area. 

Brooder: For outside trips I made some sort of pen for them that had wood on the sides and things so they could not get out. Do chicken wire on top. I put their water and food in there and they were happy, happy running around in the grass and eating bugs, etc. 

Activity: Make sure you are still holding them and touching them if you want them to be friendly. Especially at night. That is your bonding time. Grab them and stroke their little heads till they fall asleep on our lap. It is also the CUTEST thing ever.  

Food- Once they are outdoors a bit, they won't need a ton of supplemental grit since they are finding it themselves outdoors. Ensure plenty of clean water and food is available at all times. 

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*Week 5- at the point they are getting HUGE!! So many new feathers are coming in and they are feisty, loud, and chaotic. 

Heat: You should not need the heat lamp anymore as long as it's 70 degree's or higher inside and outside. 

Brooder: At the point you should consider moving them to their outside coop. You can even do this at 4 1/2 weeks or so if the weather is nice outside. 

- Move them to their outside home. You must keep them in that space for at least 5-7 days so they know where home is. I cannot stress this enough. They must learn that the coop is their new home. If they have not established that and you let them out, they might not come back. Some people suggest keeping them in their coop for 2 weeks before letting them out. This is up to you, but watch your chickens. I would say week 5 they should stay in their new outdoor coop and get acclimated. 

Activity:  If you let them out of their coop, only do so for3-4 hours at a time. Preferably towards the end of the day so they can get used to going back in their home at dark. You can use the time you take to clean the coop as their outdoor time. 

Food: Start introducing adult grower feed into their diet. Mix it in with their chick starter. Continue to provide fresh foods like berries and herbs. One of the feeds we give ours is this. Click Here ( You'll see different ones at the store that are recommended for different ages and stages. I pretty much followed that and always bought the organic non-gmo version. 

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*Week 6-8 You'll be a little depressed that they are so big. 

Heat: No more heat lamp since week 5

Brooder: The babies should now be in their outdoor coop. 

Activity: Let them out each day, but do ensure they go back to their coop at night. Also, make sure to have roosting bars in their coop and encourage them to hop up on them at night. Make sure your run and coop areas are safe. 

Food: They should be eating the adult feed and no more chick feed. Also give them lots of treats such as berries and oatmeal, heads of lettuce etc. They love it! 

Hang their food and water feeders from chains and elevate of the ground at just the right height for them to eat and drink. This will prevent a lot of things spilling into their water and food. 

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*Weeks 8-12

Coop: Make sure to always keep the coop clean. We clean ours out once a week and replace with fresh pine shavings etc. DO NOT have chicken nesting boxes open. Keep them covered. I covered ours with some material. You don't want them getting in a habit of sleeping in their nesting boxes. You only want them for egg laying. 

Activity: Daily let them out to free range or be in their run. They love activity so things to stand on and jump around, plus fun treats keep them entertained. 

Food:  Adjust their food and water stations to a height appropriate to their size. 

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*Week 12-16 weeks

Coop: Time to open up the nesting boxes! At this point all the chickens should be used to roosting at night and won't sleep in their boxes. 

Activity &  Food: All is the same, Just keep them happy with treats and great nutrition. Let them free range and explore. They will love it. 

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*Week 16-20

Coop: By week 16 place a golf ball or fake egg in a few of their nesting boxes. This will prompt them to know where to lay their eggs.

Activity: You'll know they are mature enough to lay eggs once their waddles truly come in. The little red things on the side of their mouth or tops other head. They will take on a distinctly brighter color and become more prominent. This will tell you they are ready. Some of our girls started laying at around 16 weeks while others took until about 22 weeks. Just depends. 

We personally do not keep a light in the coop to promote egg laying. In winter there are less daylight hours which means less eggs. We are okay with that. I prefer to let them be healthy and have rest instead of prompting them to lay all the time. 

Food: Switch the girls to a laying formula for food. Just like this one! Click Here

Our first eggs! You can see the golf ball in the background

Our first eggs! You can see the golf ball in the background

I really hope this guide helped you!! Please share it with others! I know I sure needed something like this when I started!! Please comment any questions and I will be happy to answer them:) Happy chick growing!! 

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Percy's birth story

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Percy's Story 

May 13, 2018

WARNING: ( There are some pictures of the actual birth here so don't scroll if you get queasy) 

Jared had been out of town for a few days and he got home around 5pm on Tuesday May 8, and we spent the next 3 hours clearing brush from the back of the property because a new fence was going to be put up on Wednesday morning. 

At around 8:00 I ran down to the animal area and fed everybody. Felicity, who is usually very hungry, was walking around kind of weird. She ate a little but didn't seem to have a great appetite. I found it a bit odd but just finished up and went back up to the house. Before walking in the house I was outside talking to Jared and noticed Felicity laying on the ground out in the middle of the field by herself. I knew something was up. Jared and I were starving so I told him to go inside and start boiling some water or pasta and I'd be in real quick. I was just gonna go check on Felicity. 

Felicity a few hours before Percy was born

Felicity a few hours before Percy was born

Before I continue you have to know that I have been praying for Felicity and for her baby to be born when we were home. I had been waiting since Mid-march for her to have her baby. We did not know exactly when she was bred and it was kind of a guessing game at that point. ( on a side note, we are not sure who the father is?? More on that later) 

 Having animals has taught me a lot but mostly to depend on God more and myself less. I try to have it all under control usually and I've realized it's all in God's timing and not our own. 

So I go down to the field and I see something coming out. And I thought to myself " NO WAY" I've read all sorts of books etc and they all say that alpacas usually have their babies in the morning. Mostly before 1pm. So I thought " Well this is crazy, it's 8:25pm! Almost sundown! Of course my phone had died so I ran up to the house and told Jared Felicity was having her baby. I had prepared a basked with birthing essentials and I asked Jared to bring that along with a phone! I then took the picture below 

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In all my reading  I had read that an alpaca birth should take around 20 minutes, 30 at the most. So I just hung out with her watching. The baby's head was out and covered with the sac covering. I cleared its mouth and nose with my bare hands, eek! At that point I did not care I just wanted to help. The baby was breathing and making a squeaky noise. 1front leg was completely out but the other was halfway out. Felicity had been sick back in February with meningeal worm which caused her back legs to have a form of paralysis. As the minutes went by it looked like Felicity was getting weaker and weaker in her legs. She no longer seemed to be contracting to me. It seemed as though the birth was at a standstill. At this point it was almost dark and I wanted to get Felicity into an enclosed area and more of a controlled setting. So Jared and I lured her into the area we have between the two pastures that has a little enclosure. We lured her with difficulty because she is not want us near her. 

We were 20 minutes in and I started to get concerned. I had Jared go get my alpaca book. This book is quite the recourse when it comes to information about alpacas. I wanted to look at their birthing section to see if the position the baby was in was normal. 

The Book is called Alpaca Field Manual by C. Norman Evan, D.V.M It's quite expensive but I have used it lots and has proven to be a very helpful recourse. Click Here to purchase 

Here's the book! You can tell the book got a bit dirty in the process.

Here's the book! You can tell the book got a bit dirty in the process.

According to the book it said both legs should be of equal length. So if they were not, it was best to try to put the short leg back in and then slowly try to pull it out. So I put gloves on and did that. It did not work. At that moment I realized I was in over my head. So I asked Jared to grab my phone ( which had now charged for about 15 minutes) and had him call James and Rick over at Suki Farms. 

 

They have been great friends and I get our alpaca grain form them. I had actually been at their farm earlier that day to get food. So I called them to see if they thought the birth was going okay or not. They had me try a few different tricks ( pulling the baby straight down, not out. Tryign to insert the leg back in again, etc. After another 5 minutes or so we were at about 40 minutes of birth time. I then knew I had to call the vet. I just didn't trust that the baby was going to come out safely and at that point I was nervous for Felicity. 

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I have to say that our vet is the MOST AMAZING vet ever. If it wasn't for having her this past year I'm not sure where we would be. I called her at around 0915 and it was already dark outside. She answered which was an answer to prayer and said she'd be over asap. What a blessing. At this point I could tell the baby was struggling as Felicity had been in labor for almost an hour. Dr. Wilson arrived about 10 minutes later. She put on some really long gloves. I had just been wearing some regular gloves:) Anyways. Felicity was laying on the ground. Dr. Wilson had me put her on her side and hold her down. Then she proceeded to pull out the baby. It was NOT easy. She has to really, really pull. She got the leg that was stuck out and then had to rotate his hips to get them out. Then all of a sudden he was out!! It was amazing!! I put some towels on the ground  and we dried him off. Dr. Wilson said he was a very big  baby and that it was good I called her. She did not think Felicity would have been able to push him out on her own. Nor could have I pulled him out as I had never done it before and he was quite stuck.

a few minutes after birth

a few minutes after birth

He was just so precious and he looked huge compared to what Pearl looked like when she was born. ( Pearl was born premature. See her story here) A few minutes later we tried to get him to stand. He was already to strong and determined to move around. Fiesty little thing! 

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1030 pm and I’m starving, ha!

1030 pm and I’m starving, ha!

At this point Dr. Wilson left and I decided to hang around and make sure things continued to go well. After delivering the baby there are a couple things to monitor for. Observe that the mom paces the placenta ( by morning, but preferably over the next few hours) Also, ensure that the baby learns to suckle and gets colostrum from the mom. Colostrum is super important those first 24 hours, but especially in the first 6. 

You have to ensure there are no tears and the placenta is intact, If there was tears Felicity would need antibiotics as that would mean a part of it was still inside of her and she could become sick from that.

You have to ensure there are no tears and the placenta is intact, If there was tears Felicity would need antibiotics as that would mean a part of it was still inside of her and she could become sick from that.

About 2 hours later Felicity passed the placenta.I then went to the house to eat some pasta, well at that point it was basically 11pm, but I was SO hungry!You'd think I wouldn't be hungry after seeing all that but being a nurse you pretty much get used to eating no matter what you've seen that day, ha!

 My sweet mom who had come to see the baby once it was born stayed down with the animals watching them. You can see the picture of my mom holding him below. 

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We then just waited down there and I kept moving the little one close to Felicity and placed him under her multiple times so he could try to find milk. He kept going to the area but not latching on. So we waited patiently. 

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Finally around 3:00am he got the hang of it. I then felt I could go to sleep! It was a tad cold that night so I put a little blanket around him and secured it with safety pins just to ensure he did not get too cold. He was still not fully dry although we had towel dried him off. 

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I then went to sleep around 3:30 am Wednesday morning! I really wanted to sleep in but I wanted to go check on him right away and make sure all was okay. At around 6:30 am I went down there and he was so cute, awake, and jumping around. I kept him and Felicity enclosed for that whole first day to ensure they had enough bonding time before introducing him to all the other girls.  I then set up some things for Felicity to ensure she had enough nutrition and energy after a long birth. 

*Fresh Clean water with electolytes

*Some Fresh Alfalfa Hay ( usually they do not eat this, but in this case it's good for her to have extra protein. 

*Chaf Hay which is a fermented hay that has lots of probiotics and essential things. 

*Grain- I gave her a big bowl of grain to munch on as she'd need. 


There are many things I could say about the whole birth experience but heres a few. 

1.) God's timing is perfect and I am so grateful we were home to see the birth and be able to intervene. I need to TRUST more. The whole time I was so nervous the baby and or Felicity would die, but then I kept telling myself "You were home to be able to catch this God has got this, trust Him"

2.) Everyone has told me Alpaca births are easy. They usually have them in the morning, they hardly never need assistance and the baby is out in 20 minutes or less, Well apparently I get all the complex births so I am now more prepared.

3.) I did have a birthing basket ready which did come in handy. It had the following. 

*4-5 Towels to dry off the baby,etc

*Gloves ( It was definitely good I had gloves for most of the birth cause it got messy) 

*Betadine ( to wipe baby's umbilical cord)

*Bulb Suction ( To clear baby's nose if needed) 

*Powder Colostrum replacement + bottle - should I have needed to supplement him.  

All these things proved to come in handy. 

I am so grateful all went okay. He weighed about 16.5lbs at birth and is now almost 20lbs! Growing like a weed and Felicity is the best mom! Felicity had had a rough year battling the illness she got and now birthing a baby, but she is a strong mom and I am so proud of her.  Alpakita is a wonderful big sister and everyone seems to be getting along well and bonding. 

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Thanks everyone for all the love and name suggestions over the past few days! We love having this little guy around ! My nephew loves Thomas the Train so when he was asked what the baby's name should be he said Percy. So Percy is it! We love the name and think it suits him perfectly. Comment if you guys have any questions and be sure to follow @azurfarm on instagram for updates on Percy and the farm. I have videos of the birth and will be posting a video soon! 

xoxo: Annette

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