About two weeks ago, we brought home fourteen one-day-old baby chicks! They currently live in a brooder box (aka a cardboard box with wood shavings) under a heat lamp in our garage.
Eight of them are pullets (females) and six are straight run (may be male or female…we will find out as they grow). I’m excited to be adding to our flock, which is currently three years old and not laying eggs as frequently as they used to. We used to get one egg per chicken per day, but now a days we are only getting one egg per day from the flock. I told Barry each morning the chickens draw straws to see who has to lay that day. 🙂
Speaking of the old flock, we are sadly down from six chickens to four. We lost two recently to illness and injury. We had a necropsy done on the first bird to make sure it wasn’t anything that would affect the rest of the flock and it wasn’t (she died from air saculitis and salpingitis – an infection in the air sacs in the chest cavity that spread to the oviducts). The second chicken passed away after she hurt her leg and basically failed to thrive. So our flock was getting pretty small. Chickens do well in larger groups, so it was definitely time to bring in some new blood.
I’m not going to go into all of the nitty gritty details of raising chicks, because I did that last time in my Chick Days series. Check that out if you’re interested in that stuff! I’ve already referred to it a few times to see how we handled certain things the last go around.
I forgot how much fun it is to raise baby chicks. They’re a lot of work, but they grow and change so quickly. In only just two weeks most of them have gone from being fuzz-covered to having nearly fully-feathered wings and a few tail feathers. By five weeks they will be fully feathered.
The last time we raised chicks, we were able to move them into them into the chicken coop once they had all of their feathers, right around five weeks old. They were so awkward and funny looking back then!
This time we are going to have to wait a little longer to introduce the new chicks to the existing flock. They have to be large enough to defend themselves and fit in with the big girls. I have read several articles about how to successfully introduce new birds to a flock, and I have a game plan that I hope will work out. As the chicks grow we are going to allow the new flock to be exposed to them over several weeks in neutral areas (I’ll go into more details when we actually do this).
When it finally comes time to add the new members of the flock, our best bet will be to put them on the roosting poles at night. The idea being that our current flock will wake up in the morning and go “Huh, look at all these new birds. I guess I’ve never noticed them up until this point but they’re clearly part of my group.” Things almost never go as planned with the chickens, but we will see!
Have you ever raised chicks?