New Digs for the Chicks

The chicks are still all very well and are growing quickly. Most of them have grown in a nice set of primary flight feathers.

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They are looking more like little chickens now than balls of fluff.

resting-chick

Since they are now at least twice the size they were when we got them, it was time to give them some new digs since the box was getting crowded. They had started pecking and fighting with each other a bit. Once when startled we saw one of the chicks fly over the level of the top of the box.

2-week-chicks

For the middle of February, Friday was a wonderfully warm  day. So set up the leftover roll of 1″ wire mesh as a temporary run for the chicks. I covered it with the blue tarp because we have crows in the area and they would love to fly over and snatch up a few of our little chicks

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They were a bit afraid and huddled together at first, but they enjoyed getting out on the grass and scratching around.

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Matthew (David and Grace’s dad) and I blocked off the bottom of the inner wire door of the coop with a thin sheet of plywood, put new linoleum on the floor and added wood chips. I then dumped the wood chips from the chick’s box into the coop as well. The old manure will start a deep bedding composting system that will help warm keep the chicks warm.

coop-prep

I added their feed, water and a brooder heating plate. The heating plate allows the chicks to get up underneath, like they would with a mama hen and it keeps them at the temp that the hen would keep them. On the first night, the chicks had no idea what to do. They all huddled in a lump up against the wall of the coop to keep each other warm. I had to go into the coop and insert them each under the brooder. The first time I did this, they all popped right back out and back into the pile. I went out later and they were all back against the wall. So I put them underneath the brooder again. This time only a few popped back out.

brooder-day-time

I went out to check them well after dark and they had all clustered up next to, and under the brooder. I grabbed a couple chicks who were on the outside, towards the edges and put them under the plate.

brooder-night-time

The next morning, I checked on them, and a few of the chicks were up and moving. I move the brooder and they were all alive. They now all automatically go under the brooder at night to keep warm.

brooder-morning

I am moving them from the coop to a an updated pen in the yard every nice day we have. This past weekend and so far this week have been beautiful. The only day they were kept in the entire day was Sunday as it was cooler and raining on and off. Moving the chicks every day also helps ensure that they are used to being handled.  With my system, each chick gets handled at least 4 times each day they are moved. They are moved from the coop into a box, from the box into the pen in the yard, from the pen to a box, from the box back into the coop for the night. I updated their pen in the yard by driving 5 t-posts into the ground and setting the wire up around the post. This helped me make the wire circle a little bigger for the chicks. After I removed the chicks from the wire pen on the first day, the wind came up and blew the wire over, not something I want to have happen when the chicks are inside. When our order for 2 ft high 1 inch wire mesh comes in, we will make a PVC run for them, that can be moved more easily.

new-run

It is lovely seeing them now acting more like little chickens. They love being outside, scratching the grass, and exploring. Some of the chicks have even started play fighting with each other. I think those ones are roosters. I gave them a treat of old potato flakes and a mashed up hard boiled egg. They went crazy for it.

chick-feed

I was happy that we were able to keep them in the house during that cold spell and while we were dealing with pasty butt. However, I am happy to have no more chickens in my house. However, there is always the next batch of chicks.

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