Saturday, August 15, 2009

Here a Chick. There a Chick. Everywhere a Chick Chick.

Prior to last week, we had 21 chickens roaming about. These 21 included two roosters, a pullet and cockerel (teenage chickens), two chicks and laying hens. Last week, two chick orders arrived. This meant two trips to the post office at the other end of town to pick them up. Two mornings of excitement and delight for the kids (and, yes, for us grown-ups, too). Two teaching-them-how-to-drink sessions. And, many trips out to the chicken tractor to see how they are fairing (just fine).

The first order (the yellow chicks) was an order we placed with our neighbors. In about 8 weeks, these chicks will no longer be sweet, little chicks. They'll be big, full-grown chickens and they'll be in our freezers. Sixteen of them are ours.

Here I am (first shot of me ever here, I think- I'm getting brave) teaching the chicks how to drink. Sadie is taking them out of the box and handing them to me. Then, I put them in the tractor. This way we know they've all had a drink. Jamey is making sure Sadie doesn't hold them too tightly. Sam is making sure none escape.

Since it's summer, we put them directly outside in the chicken tractor. We put the tractor close to Jamey's shop so he could run the cord out for the heat lamp. Even though it's warm out, chicks require very warm temps their first few weeks. Here they are under the lamp.

The second batch of chicks are Silver-Laced Wyandottes and will be laying hens in about 5 months. A dozen of these will move away to live with friends and the remaining dozen will stay here with us.

Here is Jamey teaching them to drink. This entails dipping their little beaks into water and then letting them tilt their heads back to 'swallow'. They haven't learned this prior to getting to us. As soon as they're born, they are shipped out and arrive at their destination in two days. These two days are a window when no food or drink is needed.

Somersault is checking them out. She has never bothered any of our chicks- and at times she's had plenty of access to them.

Sam and Sadie sticking their fingers in the holes to get pecked by little beaks. Can you tell it was early in the morning? Sam is still in his pajamas and Sadie's hair is all disheveled.

Babies, of all sorts, are simply amazing. Chicken tally? For the next 8 weeks, until 15 are harvested, we have 49.

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  1. Oh my goodness...I forgot how stinkin' cute they are when they're brand new! I love how you say so nonchalantly, "they'll be in our freezers". I guess these are the ones that don't get handled and loved on much, eh? So have you ever figured out how much a whole fryer costs you when you do it this way? Is it cost-effective? Versus buying at the store?

  2. This was helpful.....I was wondering about putting new chicks outside in the summer...I wanted to order 4 Ameracana chickens next year for their eggs and know my husband would not want them this was good to know. I will have to put "chicken tractor" on my list of winter projects. My little monkeys would LOVE baby chicks.....

  3. Michelle, I have not priced free-range, organic whole fryers lately. The chicks themselves cost a couple dollars each. There is also the cost of some feed, but mostly they eat grass, bugs, etc. (once they are big enough to free range). We haven't figured it out exactly, but we love knowing what they are eating and that they are getting exercise and fresh air (at least until it's freezer time). Hope this information helps!:-)

    Mavis, As long as you have a heat lamp available to the chicks, they will regulate their temperature. They'll stay right under the lamp at night and spread out a bit during the warmer days. They are pretty good at showing us what they need. Build a tractor and show us pictures!:-)

  4. Nice pics! I'm never quite sure how cost-effective *our* meat birds are. We buy a local, soy-free organic feed for them and that is just plain expensive. I got some feed once at the farm bureau and it smelled disgusting and looked like crumbles of nothing, so we didn't do that again. The grass and bugs help, but I find the meat breeds aren't nearly as good at foraging as the layers. Meat birds eat. All day. Even sitting down. They are hungry all the time.


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