Chickens

The Usual Suspects…

The youngest flock of chicks are now four weeks old. Time flies when you’re watching over these gals! Actually, they fly…In just a few short weeks, some of the bigger ones have started to take some pretty brave flights in and out of the brooder. More so than the older bantam chicks (white silkies) we have.) The bantams see perfectly content in their brooder box.

20160325_184750.jpg
Silkie Bantams are about 6 weeks old.

However we refurbished a run for them outside and when the weather is nice (ie, about 60 degrees) we put them outside for the day. The pen is also covered so there isn’t the open invitation to hawks.

20160402_114332.jpg
Golden Polish Chick

Since the bantams have some time outside, we have moved all the younger chicks into the big brooder (converted firewood holder). They are loving the new found space! The feathers growing in on the younger birds are gorgeous and a rainbow of colors and patterns. Slowly their fluffy feathers are disappearing!

20160402_113953.jpg
Jersey White Giants (I think.)

We have quite the gang growing up here and have only lost one chick to date! There is a runt that seems to remain unchanged since arrival, but we’re keeping a close eye on her. Key points we have learned in this chick raising endeavor:

  • Chicks will constantly kick shavings into their waterer. Prepare to clean it out often.
  • They eat. A lot. If you plan on having more than 4-6 chicks, don’t waste time with one of those little mason jar feeders, just get a big one.
  • Move slowly around them, or else there could be a stampede into the corner and the tiniest of the flock will end up on the bottom of the dog chick pile.
  • Build them a little perch/roost. They will thank you for it. Also helps alleviate chick boredom.
20160402_114020.jpg
Silver Polish
Advertisements
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.

image
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.

image
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.

20160313_120200.jpg

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.)

20160314_190010-1.jpg

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?

20160314_190021-1.jpg

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

Day 4. The First Batch.

Captain’s Log…Day 4.

That awesome photo you see with the two chicks? Credit of Ms. Samantha who isn’t afraid to get down on their level and go 1:1 with these peep soldiers. She caught their serious expressions rather well on camera!

The “Tricky Six” are still chirping in their brooder. Our human family is amazed at how fast they grow! There is already at least one personality showing through as one little (probably a guy) is a bit feistier than the others. By feisty, let’s be honest, he’s acting like a little asshole sometimes. (Earmuffs kids.) If we’re able to catch his “flying hops” as we call them on video, we will share; he can make it about a quarter of a way across the brooder before crashing. Impressive given his short stature.

For the most part, all peeps seem to have adjusted well to their new surroundings and they are under the watchful eye of General Lee the basset hound. Of course the kids adore them as well, so the most repeated phrase of late has been “wash your hands” to keep both kids and animals healthy.

20160308_192457.jpg

Another batch of peeps arrive next week which means this weekend we will be expanding the brooder. Pictures and project plans to come!

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.

image