Monday, March 4, 2013

The Baby Chicks Are Here!

We picked up our baby chicks today. Some years I order them, but this year I decided to see what the feedstores might bring in, and also see if it's less expensive to buy them locally.

I was well pleased with the variety of chicks available today. White Rhode Islands, Buff Orpingtons, Americaunas (these lay the blue and green eggs), partridge rocks, and a few other kinds were available. I picked an assortment of kinds, 15 babies in all. They are a quiet lot, and seem to be happy in their new home.

Larry originally put a big heat lamp on them which is why the photos look red. I thought we were going to end up with chicken nuggets because it was just too hot, so changed it out for a 60-watt bulb and that seems to provide sufficient heat.

We learned a trick a few years ago: we make a box for them without a bottom, and put down a plastic dropcloth under the box. Then when their bedding needs to be changed, we just pick up the plastic and take it to the woods or the garden to dump. So much neater and easier than trying to clean the bottom of a box.

These little ones are supposedly all pullets. Our old girls will be given away when the young ones start to lay. I find it not at all worth the trouble to dress them out, and usually someone takes them and keeps them to lay for a few more years, which is fine by me. After five years, though, their production is really poor and it's not cost-effective to keep them in my book.

The cats are intensely interested, so we've got the babies under a good security system. The cats usually lose interest in a couple days, which is a relief. I, however, will probably spend a lot of time every day just watching the chicks peck around and sleep. There is something restful about it, and I can dream of them being big girls out in the coop and tending to the business of providing our breakfast.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


A Primitive Homestead said...

They are such sweet little creatures. We have 3 hens & a rooster. This spring will be our 2 year raising. They were meant for eggs then meat. However while tiny my children started naming them. So we are starting to get eggs again these past two weeks. They are eating more than they provide. Do you free range or cage your flock? I just think of you watching over your little flock while creating a story. Blessings! Lara

Quinn said...

That's a great idea about the bottomless box!!
A few years ago I started using a clear plastic box instead of the solid one I used earlier. I think it has made a big difference in how relatively calm the birds are as they grow, and later as hens. Makes sense, really...from the first day, they become comfortable with seeing motion all around themselves. Otherwise, all they see is solid walls with light and motion only coming from overhead, which is where, for chickens of all ages, danger (in the form of hawks, etc.) comes from.
I'm going to cut the bottom out of the clear plastic box for the next batch of chicks - thanks for that excellent idea!

Linda Miller said...

I miss farm fresh eggs. Living in town does not allow us to raise any. Lucky you!
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Reuzeit Emporium

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

When I was a child, a late winter/early spring snow storm cut off access to the brooder house and we were hosts to 2,000 baby chicks in our dining room for more than a week. Now, that's what I always think of when someone says "baby chicks."

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