Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Baby Chicks

Week One

So week one begins on Monday, March 29 at 5am central time.  This is when they hatched.  They arrived here at my house at 8:30am Tuesday, March 30th.  All healthy and active.  They aren't very noisy.  I haven't had any trouble with them though I had to wash the behind on one just now, noon on Wednesday the 31st.  I'm really tired this afternoon because I stayed awake after 4am today.  Probably the excitement.  I also spoke to a lady about the Buckeye Chicken.  She just hatched some and I would like a few. this basically explains why.  Her farm is not far from here.

3 days old

So far the chicks have been really easy to care for and are a lot of fun to watch.  The water is the biggest thing right now.  Keeping it clean.  They fall asleep in the evening making a circle around the warming lamp and they don't wake up until the sun is well up.  Of course there always seems to be the odd few that get kicks out of running on top of everyone else and waking them up.  But they quickly fall asleep again until all of them are sleeping.  Their wing feathers are growing longer.  I just witnessed a little sparring, chest bumping play.  Kind of like teenage boys.  This picture is what they look like now at 3 days old.  The wing feathers
are getting longer.  I put a couple of old boards in the nest for them and they love to show off on it.  This little chick is doing leg stretches.

4 days old

Yesterday I bought 5 little Buckeye chicks.  They are two days older than the White Plymouth Rock that I have.  So altogether now I have 30 chicks.  They are all doing great.  Every once in a while I have to clean off a pasted butt, but I think that is normal. 
The two extra days seem to make a difference to the amount of wing feathers.  One of them even has a few tail feathers.
It was a warm day yesterday.  It got up to 78 F.  I opened the windows on the front porch in the afternoon.  When it was time to go to Chloe's ballet class the sun was shining in the brooder and the thermometer was up above 100 F so I unplugged the heat lamp. 

Week Two

Chicks are getting bigger now and growing feathers fast.  I have to get larger feeder and waterer for them this week.
This is the new feeder.  It is actually supposed to be hanging but it is working fine for now and holds a lot more feed.  They are also spilling less.  They loved it right away and began eating from it.
This is the new waterer.  They don't have any problem with it but I did have to leave the old one in there overnight since it took longer for them to all begin drinking out of it.  It still gets pretty dirty but I am gradually raising it.  It isn't as dirty as the little one was. 
Some of the chicks are getting pretty tall.  Seems like they aren't all growing at the same rate.  I took some pictures but they aren't very good since the chicks don't stand still for very long.
This shows quite a lot of wing feathers even some at the top of the wing, shoulders.  Tail feather are beginning to fill in.
This picture really shows some shoulder feathers coming in.
This little chick does not seem to be maturing as quickly as the others although there doesn't seem to be any difference in there behavior, which is quite lively.  Maybe this will be a little hen.  Who knows?  Will just wait and see.
I raised the waterer again, hopefully it stays a little cleaner.  I think they will be able to reach it.  I saw one place where the chicks had to reach pretty high to drink and they still did it, so I'm thinking it's not too high but the black container I put under it might alarm them a little to start with.
They can reach it.  Good deal.  They still manage to get wood chips in it.  Silly birds.  Oh well, it's not as bad as finding poop in the water.  I better not be finding poop.
So this is how poop gets into the food.  Clever.
Scratching for spilled food.  A natural talent.  I really should take a video of this.  It is pretty cool to watch.
This is what the feathering on the Buckeyes are looking like.  They are a couple days older than the White Plymouth Rocks and it shows in the amount of feathers coming in.  Notice the rich brown and the black.
This one has much less black than the others.  It is lighter overall and a little smaller.  Maybe this will be my hen.  Just guessing.

Two weeks old into the third week
This is how poop gets into the feeder.  The top of the feeder is 12 inches from the floor.  That includes the box under it.  I was getting a little bit worried so I measured to the top of the chicken wire surrounding the whole brooder and it was about 17 inches.  I was sure they couldn't jump that high.  Then one of them flew to the top of the chicken wire and perched there.  I was right there so I picked it up and put it back in the brooder.  So now what?  I gave them a handful of grass to distract them and give them something else to think about.  It did work for awhile.  There was a gap between the cardboard and the chicken wire so we used tape to close the gap.  I don't want them getting caught between.  Now I'm checking the whole room for stray chickens when I go out there.  I keep trying to count them but always come up with more than 30 because they are so hard to count.  So how am I going to know if one is missing?  I really can't have chicks running loose in this room, to start with it's a storage room and my studio, not to mention completely unsafe to the chicks and they would starve and die of thirst and get chilled away from the heat.  At first I told Mark that he would have until the end of April to build a coop, but now I just upped the date to next weekend.  Really hard on him since this is his busiest time of year at work.  He was making plans to build a chicken palace, but now I think he's convinced himself to just build a suitable and safe but inexpensive quickly built coop.  With electricity of course.  They do still need the heat lamp.
They love the sunlight shining into the brooder.  I seriously thought they were broilers, and I was reading up about broilers and what to expect.  I think that's because most of them will end up being broiled, or baked or roasted or stewed.  Silly me.  These aren't broilers.  These are heritage chickens hatched with the call of the range beating in their breasts.  They know there has to be more than this.  They know there is grass and bugs and herbs outside somewhere and they want it.  They simply can't wait.  They fly.  They run for cover when you lift your arm up, already watching out for hawks.  They scratch and bury themselves in the shavings.  They are definitely not broilers.  They are HERITAGE CHICKENS.

Motley  looking bunch.

But oh, so beautiful and full of life.

Here is Shelby keeping watch.

I just found one of my chicks had fallen into the feeder.  I took the cover off and let them have the food exposed for them to walk around on while I made a cardboard flap for the feeder.
I did make a cardboard flap but I ended up completely removing the top part of the feeder.  It didn't work properly, probably because I put it together wrong and it was awkward and irritating.
This is what they do.  They sit on the wire and look around.  So far nobody has actually left the brooder.
 They look like they are going to fall out but so far they haven't .  They just turn around and jump down.  Pretty clever.  Today is Chicken Coop building day.  I will have to get new supplies for it.  I'm excited.  I will start a new page because it will be a new era in the chicks lives and on our tiny farm.

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