Spring Chickens

I got a call a week ago today from the breeder from whom I had ordered Delaware chicks for June (as discussed in the this post). Well, he had a larger hatch percentage than he anticipated so our smaller order of 16 chicks jumped the line and they are ready now. *AAAHHHHH* We were not ready at all. I thought we had another month AT LEAST to get ready for them. So we had to do some rushing. I told the breeder that we would pick them up on Saturday. We wanted to order New Hampshire chicks to raise with the Delawares. Even though this means more chicks at once, it is a WHOLE lot less work than raising two separate batches of chicks and trying to introduce them later. So, Cackle hatchery has what they call their Free Range New Hampshires. These birds are kept on pasture and fed only Organic, non-GMO grain. So I ordered a straight run of 16 of these chicks to be delivered ASAP. I got a call from Cackle the next morning and they said they could send the chicks that day and they would arrive on Friday. PERFECT! So they sent them. The post office called Friday morning and said the chicks had arrived in town. Our postman offered to bring them to us. Because it wasn’t cold, David had already left for the chiropractor, and I had to work that morning. I took the postman up on his offer. When I got a break from work and the baby was asleep I scrounged up a box and lined it with trash bags. I then realized that I didn’t have wood chips or starter feed for the chicks. So I had David run to the nearest Tractor Supply for Organic starter feed and wood chips. I don’t normally like giving the chicks this feed as it has soy in it (soy is a cheap way to up the protein content of feed but it ads little other nutritional value), but we can only get a supply of the whole grain feed once a month from our Azure Standard order. So, the best we can get (for now) will just have to do. So, the New Hampshires arrived and they were much more lively and very willing to be held. They seem to be more people friendly than the buffs were at this age. We ordered 16 of them, but received 18. Yay for free chickens!

New Hampshire - Parcel

I wing sexed the New Hampshires and they all looked like they were pullets (females) which is fine by us, though I would like at least one rooster so I can keep the pure bred New Hampshire strain going.

New Hampshire - box

On Saturday, we went to the breeder farm to pick up the Delaware chicks. It was a 4 hour drive each way, but well worth it. These chicks were 5 days at this point and VERY lively. Since we were the last people to come and pick up Delawares, the breeder threw the extras for free. Again we ordered 16 and received 18 birds. Yay! Because of concerns of crowding, we moved the chicks out of the box and into our bath tub which doesn’t work properly at the moment. The two batches of chicks integrated seamlessly, no fighting, no fussing, despite the cramped quarters.

Chicks - tub

I was worried when I first saw the Delaware chicks that we wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from the New Hampshires until they feathered out (Delawares will be white with black neck, tail and wing markings and the New Hampshires will be red with roosters having a green tail). However, the New Hamshires are a red-ish yellow, and the Delawares are a lemon yellow.

(NH on the left, Delaware on the right)

The Delawares also can have spots on their heads, which the New Hampshires do not have.

(NH on the left, Delaware on the right)

We also have had no problems except for one chick. Sunday night, I was refilling their feed and water before going to bed and I found a New Hampshire chick on it’s back breathing in a labored manner. I picked it up, put water into my palm and dipped it’s beak in. The chick immediately perked up and started drinking. When the chick seemed more steady, I put it back in the box near the food and water, expecting to find it dead the next morning. Yesterday morning, I didn’t find any chick bodies and all the chicks seemed alert and perky. I was only able to tell which chick I had revived the night before because of where it had been pooped on  while lying on it’s back. It had a mild case of pasty butt, so it got a bath and a blow dry and was put back. I now cannot tell which chick it was and none of the other chicks have gotten ill or died either.

I was not able to wing sex the Delawares because they were too old and their wing feathers had grown too much to tell. I’ll try sexing them by tail feathers later this week.

We know the temporary tub brooder will not work for long. In reality, they are too cramped already. We are working to get the Buffs out of the broody house and into a grow-out pen. We purchased the electric poultry netting and it should be arriving within a week. Yesterday, I had a slow day at work and Grace had off. So we worked on constructing a mobile coop with the materials we had on hand. For the bottom frame of the coop, we used some 2x4s that my dad had salvaged when he dismantled the gas shack. For the roosting bars, we used the slats from a busted full sized bed frame. We already had the 1 inch galvanized wire on hand for the bottom and sides. and we used scrap wood from the siding job and more bed slats for the top and the feet to keep it off the ground. We are planning on using left over vinyl siding to keep out the wind, and some leftover green roofing to keep out the rain. We may turn this into a “chickshaw” later, but for now, we are hoping not to spend any extra money on this coop.

Grow out coop

I was hoping to get further into building the coop yesterday, but I stood up from a crouch and “grayed out” and fell over. I believe I may have even lost consciousness for a moment because I had no idea why I was falling. In the past, if my knees gave out because of a “gray out” I have always been aware in the moment that it happened because of the “gray out”. I also went over like a tree and landed flat on my back rather than having my knees buckle. Luckily, the ground was soft and wet and I didn’t land on a stone or concrete. Still, it was not a fun experience. I feel like I was in a car accident. The consensus is that, the heat, dehydration, and nursing a baby (which can contribute to dehydration) were all working against me. Hopefully we can finish the project before the fencing comes, without any more mishaps.

I also came to the realization yesterday that we have 78 chickens on the farm. We will definitely be eating a good number of them. But until we start breeding the buffs and the chicks, no more chickens!


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