I posted an ad on Craigslist yesterday for my old wire rabbit cages.  A lady responded, came and purchased my largest one, and, through the course of conversation, it was quickly obvious that she wanted the smaller one as well.  She never said for sure, but I got the impression she was strapped for cash.  Also, through the course of conversation, it came up that she was trying to start improving her purebred chicken flock, but had a lot of cross-bred layer hens that she needed to get rid of first.  She was selling them for $6 a piece, which I knew to be a great price (around here, good layers go for about $10-$15), but with all our little ones lined up in the brooder, I had no interest in paying for more chickens.  She left, mentioned again how much she wanted the cage, and offered to try to come back the next day and get it, assuming no one else had taken it. 

After she left, I got the bright idea to barter for the first time.  I ran the idea by S, and, surprisingly, he thought it was a great idea!  This morning, I called her up and offered my cage in exchange for 6 good, healthy, hardy layers.  She jumped at the chance.  Considering I was only asking $25 for my cage, that comes out to about $4 per bird, and they are all in their prime!  Each of the 6 hens is between 10 and 18 months, give or take.  I even offered to bring the cage to her and pick the hens up, as I wanted to see what type of conditions they were coming from.  Although impressively clean for the number of hens she had (around 40), it was the typical coop-with-dirt-yard-run environment.  You could tell they seemed healthy overall, but they were in bored, overcrowded conditions.   

In any case, I picked up 6 hens, brought them home, and, since we have no formal coop yet, I set up a rugged nest box in the goat shelter, and put the hens in the goat pen.  They immediately started foraging, and loving their new “free-range” life!

Happy hens!


Checking out the nest box.

Our new flock consists of a White Leghorn (the white one), a Barred Plymouth Rock (the black and white striped, just visible in the next box), 2 Rhode Island Reds (the red ones), and 2 Black Sexlinks (the black ones).  I think it’s a pretty good mix.  After foraging around the goat pen for 2 hours, check out the size of those crops!  I would say those are some pretty happy hens!!  In fact, I tossed them some grains, and they weren’t even interested.  I think they were officially stuffed!  Within an hour, they were very relaxed, would approach us easily when we walked in, and one of the Reds even let M reach out and pet her. 

I know we need more than 1 nest box.  For now, though, since I moved Lala and her 3 kits out to the bunny condos today, all I had available was her former nest box.  We hope to build a couple nicer ones into the goat shelter in the next couple of days.  I figure it is highly possible they may not even lay for a couple days due to the stress of a move.  Then again, I may walk out in the morning, and begin my egg-collecting life.  We’ll see.  I don’t even have a clue how many eggs 6 hens will provide every week.  I am just so thrilled at this bargain barter!