May 13, 2011

Our Chick Diary - Week 4

IMG_1762We’ve taken the chicks outside a few times this week.  They’ve chased ants and other crawling things and pecked at grass and clover.  They enjoy being outside, except when there is a sudden loud noise, then they are well…. chicken.  They either freeze in place instantly or run for cover and then freeze.

Early in the week, we took our chicks out walking around our yard.  We tried to keep the number down to around 5.  There was no way we can keep up with 23 curious chicks at once. That changed later in the week though.

As you can probably imagine, if the chicks are out, Hanklin is somewhere nearby. He tried to preen one so I really have to watch him.  He preens me and our other dog, but I just don’t think the chicks will like it much.

IMG_1753With this taste of the great outdoors, our birds are even more eager to escape their brooder.  When we remove the hardware cloth from the top of their box to feed and water them, it’s just a matter of seconds it seems, before one or several are out of the box.

Each week we raise our heat lamp a few inches and watch our chicks to make sure they are still comfortable.  We have not had any problems keeping their temperature comfortable for them.  My oldest son and I have both burned ourselves on the heat lamp though. OUCH! 

We have also added grit to their menu.  Grit helps the chicks digest their food better. We put some in a small feeder and let them have at it. We don’t keep grit 9548available all the time but do offer it every couple of days or so.

Towards the end of the week, we divided our group into two and took half at a time outside in the yard for some free roaming time.  One found a wild strawberry and after pecking at it a bit, gobbled it right up.  She quickly spied another and ate that one as well.

While Mattie was holding one on her lap, another jumped and flapped her way to join the other.  As we were laughing about it, another did the same thing and then she had three of our girls on her lap. They like Mattie.  Can you tell?

We are all getting expe9531rienced at catching chickens, but I suspect it gets much harder when they get bigger. Some of our speedy ones take some maneuvering and strategy to catch as it is.

As you can see from the pictures, our girls are sporting their new feathers quite nicely.  They will be that lovely rust color once all their feathers are in.  Even now, there is variation.  Some of our chicks have feathers that are a darker rust than others and some have very blond feathers mixed in.  I don’t know if the blond ones will fall out and be replaced with the rust colored feathers or not.  Some of the girls are very feathered while others are still working on the process.  The later group seem to have 9530some bald areas between their wings along their back.  The chicks that feathered earlier didn’t have bald spots.

In additional developmental news, we are hearing some clucking sounds more often now and it is lovely. There are still no signs of waddles, but we have noticed their beaks are getting darker.

Some friends of ours just picked up some baby Guineas.  They are smaller than baby chickens and very fast. Of course my children want some.  This is something I didn’t realize would happen; we would love raising birds so much that we want to raise every kind!

As we start on week 5 with our girls, we are surprised at how fast the time has gone by. We are now down to crunch time for our chicken coop.  I knew it would happen this way, we have so many projects going on right now.  The pressure of a deadline is what propels us to get on top of things.

Here are past Chick Diary Entries:

2 comments:

  1. I want ducks. Can you raise some so I know what to expect?! :)

    I am enjoying these posts, keep them coming.

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  2. We want ducks too. And quail and guineas and peacocks and on and on. :) GRIN!

    We are having so much fun with these chicks! I am planning a "How to make a top notch brooder box the simple way" post soon for those interested.

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