3 Fuzzy bums!
I’ve been wanting chickens since last summer, and on May 4th we finally picked up our chicks! We drove about 5.5 hours each way to get them, and it was a long and tiring day, the wonderful husband did all the driving. We ended up getting 25 chicks of various ages from day-olds to maybe 2-3 week-olds. A little white chick died a bit after we got home, it was very weak and couldn’t lift its head, and it was bent backwards. Then a speckled sussex died sometime overnight. The next morning we noticed a black australorp with droopy wings, not eating and drinking, so we quarantined it with a warm oatbag, some water and food, but it died that afternoon. Three deaths in less than 24 hours had us really worried, but we now have 22 very healthy and active chicks.
In total, we have 3 black Australorps, 3 speckled Sussex, and 16 others that are a combination of white Plymouth Rock, Columbian Plymouth Rock, and I think white Phoenix. I can tell which ones are the Phoenix since they have slate coloured legs, and I’m beginning to be able to see which ones are Columbians since their black feathering is starting to show a little. As much as I like baby chicks for their adorableness, I’m really looking forward to when they’re fully grown and their individual personality really shows. Plus taking care of baby chicks is a lot of work! They’re awake from 5am to 8:30pm and other than a couple of short quiet times, they’re constantly on the go, eating, drinking, digging, scratching, fluttering, perching, playing, all the while chattering non-stop.
Here they are eating. We give them non-medicated chick feed which we lacto-ferment. For more on lacto-fermentation of chicken feed, see here. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it doesn’t smell bad. It smells just like sauerkraut, the real kind that’s made with just cabbage, salt and water. I find using the traditional chicken waterer to give them fermented feed is better than using a big dish, otherwise they like to hop right in and get all wet.
Here they are basking in the sun and playing with a piece of sod. I also dig up whole dandelions for them and they love to scratch and peck at them too.
You can see the chicken nipple waterer we use in this picture. It keeps the water clean and the bedding dry. We also add a bit of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the mother in their water. For the first week, I also put some organic, unpasteurized honey in the water as well.
Here’s a little video of the chicks scratching at the sod and bedding. We use the deep litter method and with 22 chicks in the house, it doesn’t stink! Once in a while you get a whiff of something, but then I just go and aerate the bedding with a garden trowel and add more pine shavings. Plus the chicks are really good at digging and fluffing up the bedding themselves. Now the brooder may not smell like poop, but there is a slight sweet musty smell that’s not unpleasant. The bedding is probably about 5-6 inches deep now.
And here’s a video of them taking a short afternoon siesta. I have come to treasure these short quiet times. We use Brinsea’s EcoGlow 50 instead of a lightbulb to warm the chicks. It’s like a mother hen. If they need warmth they huddle underneath it, but I have to say, the chicks spend the majority of the day running around eating and scratching. The room temperature averages around 21C or 70F and they seem very comfortable and active. It also provides a more natural day/night rhythm instead of having a light on them 24/7. The only downside to the EcoGlow is that the chicks love to perch on top of it and make a poopy mess.
As for naming them, I simply call them all “Chickie Pie”. Except for one Columbian who likes to hop onto my hand and roost on my arm. I call him/her “my darlin”, I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat that one.
I’ll end with this little speckled Sussex, all tuckered out from a very busy morning.