Chickens, Farm Life

Signs of Life

Spring is just around the corner! The signs are everywhere from the tulip bulbs poking through the mulch to the increased egg production from the ladies! Kevin and Noodle are preparing to nest as well, taking long walks into the woods to find the perfect spot for a turkey gal to lay.

Spring also means it’s time for chicks! The local Tractor Supply has some in and I succumbed and added several water chickens to the nursery. But here at Owlcatraz we have grown accustomed to hatching a few of our own. This year there are barnevelders, marans, and Easter egger x polish crosses patiently growing. Children (and adults) enjoy the candling process to view the development of the chicks. This evening we candled our blue eggs and were pleased with the result.

At six days old this chick has a heart beat and if you watching closely, you can see it moving ever so slightly. This website has some wonderful insight into embryo development inside the egg. Only fifteen more days to go until hatch day!

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Chickens

Growing Up

The chicks continue to grow – fast. As evident by their voracious appetites and mobile abilities. Routinely there will be a chick on the top edge of the brooder, attempting to look innocent as we walk into the garage.

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As the chicks mature, they also become less willing to pose for photos.

 

These adorable feathery friends are also dust machines. A result of their constant movement and the shavings we use for bedding, no doubt. In the future, I’ve researched some varying bedding materials, including using dirt from outside in lieu of shavings. (Put that on the list for the next batch…)

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It has been such a unique experience to watch these birds lose their fluffy down and develop mature feathers. Their markings and personalities are also becoming more distinct. There is Dee Dee (the trouble maker); Bruce (the Polish with attitude); and Shirley (the runt of the flock).

Gradually, we’ve been introducing several “treats” including strawberries, alfafa sprouts and bread crumbs. Flock members devour these delicacies! The heating lamp is gradually being raised as ladies require less heat too. We’ve learned in the process how important it is to maintain a raised height for the feeder and waterer – or else these rascals will have the contents everywhere!

The countdown is on for the big move into the main coop outside!

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Brace yourself Isabelle, the chicks are coming.
Chickens

Warning: Fluffy Feathers

The big batch of chicks arrived yesterday after several days of constantly checking the USPS tracking log! All of them arrived alert and oriented and they have been drinking and eating. Upon arrival to Owlcatraz, each chick had her (hoping they’re all ladies) beak dipped in water to encourage intake.) We added just a little sugar to their water to give them a boost after their journey from Iowa (Murray McMurray Hatchery) to Pennsylvania. These chicks have already had a busy first couple of days, take a look at this video giving a tour of the hatchery where they were born.

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Looking good gals!

 

There are 27 chicks total in this order; with breeds ranging from brahma to polish chicks to Jersey giants and more! Our friend, BigFootFarmer, took home a couple of chicks to add to his flock too. The family is thrilled to be able to watch these gals grow! Hopefully our matriachs (Isabelle, Pearl, Nugget and Truck) will welcome them into the flock in the coming months.

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Check out the stoic stare on this Polish chick!

 

The temperature in the brooder will stay between 90-95 degrees for the first week and drop 5 degrees each week afterwards. The larger bantams we have (brought home a week ago) are in a different brooder for the time being. The chicks are eating a commercial chick starter and we will sprinkle some chick grit on their food after the first week or so.

Chickens

Brooder Expansion

Does this sound familiar to my fellow chicken hoarders keepers, “We need a bigger brooder (or run, coop, farm, etc)”?

Over the weekend, the kids and I took it upon ourselves to take over a wood bin, made of pallets in the garage. Since we won’t be storing wood in it during the spring and summer months, it will make a perfect brooder for the chicks when they are a few weeks old.

We purchased some hardboard tempered panels from Home Depot, lucky for me, the measurements were close to the inside of the wood bin, making the need for cutting minimal.

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The hardboard has a smooth side and a rough side, we used the rough side for the inside of the brooder to give chicks a better chance at developing their sea legs. Aka, avoiding spraddle leg. When we first welcomed the chicks home, we gave them a solid base of bedding, wood shavings. Underneath the shavings, we’ve occasionally put newspaper down as this makes changing out the old bedding easier. (Just roll up and toss.)

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So far, our first batch acclimated nicely to their brooder box and have been doing well in the bigger brooder since being switched over. Another batch of chicks will be arriving tomorrow or Wednesday and we wanted to start them in the smaller brooder.

Yes, that is a “jungle gym” for the chicks. They seem to enjoy hopping up and down on it so far, gives them practice for roosting. (Pardon the fuzzy, red images.) Who can resist these adorable bantams?

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Our next batch is a special order from Murray MCMurray Hatchery and will include some polish chicks, brahmas, and Jersey giants – with a few extras thrown in. Since part of our order was a mix, we won’t know until the chicks are a few weeks old what we have. Stay tuned for more chick pics!

Chickens

The Chicks are Coming!

You may have heard (or felt) that spring is just around the corner (thank goodness). That means chick season! We were fortunate to receive an incubator and brooder from our friend at Anthracite Pavement Markings. A pre-made brooder just perfect for newly hatched chicks! Did I mention Tyler gave us a couple waterers and a feeder? #blessed. Our dream of Owlcatraz Farm is made possible by our truly amazing family and friends.

Back to chick fever.

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks gathering our supplies that include, but not limited to:
– Thermometer for measuring heat in brooder
– Starter chick feed (20% protein)
– Appropriate heat source (we are starting with a lamp)
– Pine shavings

Then you’ll want to spend hours reviewing chicken breeds online and in your chicken catalogs until settling on the perfect mix. Next, wait impatiently for several weeks until they arrive.

In the midst of waiting several weeks for your chicks to arrive, don’t go to Tractor Supply. For once there, you will get pulled into “Chick Days” and end up leaving with six bantam chicks.

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