Look at how big the littles have gotten! This is week 6 and they look like little velociraptors! I call it the ugly teen years. They are not very attractive!
Did you know that birds were the original dinosaurs? Ever wonder why the T-Rex has tiny hands? That’s right.Today’s chickens are descendants from dinosaurs. Possibly even the velociraptor. There is evidence of a dinosaur bird that looked like an emu, ran like an ostrich and super vicious. All birds of today came from that bird. Explains these girls attitude and smarts!
Anyway, just like teenagers I have to keep them from escaping their room. At first there was only one girl flapping her wings and jumping up to the edge. I would pet her for a little bit and then put her back in. Then it was two, then three and now we are in trouble!
Normally at this age we would put them in the coop but we are still having snow storms. It’s too cold out. Plus we still have our big ladies in the coop! We are in the process of putting together a nice new home for the ladies in the barn. We can’t just add 20 new girls the coop. That’s too many chickens for the space. Plus the big ladies are too set in their ways so would not be very accepting of the littles. Mixing could literally be fatal!
So now what do we do? We build a cover for the brooder which finally stops the madness. That’s the solution for now.
Watch one of the littles try to escape the brooder by watching their YouTube Channel:
So it was a week of firsts for the littles! So what have we tried?
We started by putting a tray of dirt down expecting them to start dust bathing. It took 3 days for them to get brave enough to get into the tray! Once they got a hang of getting in the tray they decided to eat the dirt rather than dust bathe! After eating half the tray I pulled it out.
Then I shredded up some dandelion leaves and dropped them in. After getting over the fear they tasted them but weren’t impressed.
The next day I walked into something that looked a little like Fight Club! The littles were puffing up their chests, posturing and bouncing off each other! They must have been establishing their pecking order. They start it young!
They had their first brooder cleaning where I had to climb in with them. I thought I would scare the heck out of them but they were actually pretty excited to take a ride on my shoes!
I mentioned we have a laser gun temperature gauge. You shoot the laser light onto the object you want to take the temperature of. At first the littles were afraid of it but pretty soon it was a game of catch! They also seem fascinated with finger movements. Everywhere your finger goes they follow.
We have to clean out this brooder twice a week. On my second trip in I was wearing a hoodie with strings that the littles went wild for!
Finally, a few of the girls got brave enough to jump up on the perch we put in days earlier. Now they are fighting over who gets to use it!
Yep, a lot of firsts this week and this is just the beginning!
I tried to capture most of these on video just for you and have uploaded them on their YouTube channel!
The girls have graduated with their move into the large brooder. They are now known as “the Littles!” So when me or the hubby say…..I’m going to feed the chickens. We don’t have to ask…..which ones?
Remember how I said the littles were going to be more fun when they moved into the big brooder? We have so much fun with their curious antics. They are like babies and puppies. They put their mouths on everything! Unfortunately their mouths are armed with a pointy beak to they peck when they are investigating. Ouch!
Picking them up is fun too. Some like it better than others. Their objective is to stand higher than all the other girls so lifting them up can be very exciting for them?
See how big the chicks are at 4 weeks on their YouTube channel:
The chicks got their wish today! They moved into their new LARGE brooder! They were so excited that one girl actually flew from the small brooder into the new one!
They certainly love their new space. More room to roam. The cage grid floor is gone and they can finally scratch with their feet! Everything is new. One chick even thought a large pine shaving was food! She picked it up in her beak and the other chicks became jealous and started chasing her to try and steal it away! Too funny!
For the quieter chicks this was a little much for them. They were skiddish and peeped really loud if they became scared. That happens every now and then since the brave girls are taking over the space with their antics.
Over the next week I’ll try to video all their new experience because there are going to be a lot of FIRSTS coming up!
Watch the chick fly and the girl run with her wood chip on their YouTube Channel:
Chicks brains are pretty simple really. But as they get older you can see them getting smarter and smarter! When they’re tiny they are just reacting to things around them. Then one day they start to recognize you. They start looking at you….watching you…..and then start to follow every move you make. Some more than others. Don’t listen to people who say chickens are dumb. They are actually very smart! Okay, there are exceptions, just like there are with people.
If you watch the videos on YouTube you will notice there are a few chicks looking at the lid to the brooder looking for a way to get out. When I open the lid to change out food and water there are 2 girls in particular that have jumped up through the opening! Scared me to death! Could be a nasty fall if they fell on the floor! That was the first sign they are ready to leave the small brooder. They are getting bigger so it’s a little more crowded.
The next step brooder is a larger wood one that we built. Since it’s winter we are going to have to set it up inside in our chicken supply storage area. We cover the cement floor with a tarp, then some absorbent paper for animal cages, and then a light layer of pine shavings. We add a couple ceramic heating panels to keep the temperature around 70 degrees. We have a nifty thermometer gun that we use to test temperature. You shoot a laser pointer at the spot you want to know the temperature of. The temperature is a perfect 70 degrees right by the panels!
I can’t wait to move them in!
See how ready the girls are to move on their YouTube Channel:
We are starting to see the personalities develop in these babies. One chick in particular has a strong instinct to dust bathe like I’ve never seen before. The brooder only has a cage bottom for cleanliness. Poop drops out the bottom and away from the chicks. But the dust bathing instinct is so strong she lays on the floor flopping around even though there is no dirt to bathe in!
First, the chick found the little tray of grit and started flopping around in that. Grit is tiny stones that the chicks eat to help them digest their food. Once the chicks started eating in the outside troughs that little chick decided to drop in front of one of the open windows. The other chicks were not happy that this little girl wanted to take up space by the food to flip flop around on the cage floor! They started to stand on top of her and in some cases even started pecking at her saying “Get Out of My Way!”
She is going to have a ball when I give the girls their first tray of dirt to play with!
You can watch the dust bathing chick on their YouTube Channel:
I can hear them saying “Hey, it’s getting a little crowded in here!!” Unfortunately it’s still cold outside and these little girls need to stay inside for another few weeks. So what can we do to make things better? Let’s let them eat out for a change!
This brooder came with troughs to hang on the outside to save space. There are metal pieces you can adjust to make sure the chicks can stick their heads out but not their entire bodies. We decided to give it a try.
First, we opened up the slides to let them investigate. It took awhile for them to get brave enough to poke their beaks through. Then we added the troughs filled with food. Opening the slides once again, they quickly got to it. They devoured the food like they hadn’t been fed for a week! Little monsters act like we are starving them!
After they filled up they started getting picky about their food. Instead of just eating they started pecking through it and tossing about pieces they didn’t care for. Guess where it landed…..ON THE FLOOR!. What a mess! We are now spending a lot of time vacuuming to avoid attracting mice.
But hey…..they have more room! It won’t last for long. They are growing way too fast. We are going to have to build a bigger brooder soon.
Check out our trough test, feeding the chicks outside the brooder on their YouTube Channel:
The chicks are only a few days old and are devouring food like they are starving to death! But they are too cute to judge. They are growing so fast. You can see changes daily! Look at the feathers they’ve already developed! It all happens too fast.
We did lose one of the chicks to illness which unfortunately seems to happen when they are this young. We introduced 2 new chicks the same age that quickly blended in with everyone.
What else can you say?! They eat a lot and poop a lot. Lots of cleaning up but we love them . They seem to be calmer than the big girls. There was a lot of chaos with our last girls. Could it be because we had 5 roosters? Yep, probably!
Get a closer look at the little monsters eating on their YouTube Channel:
That’s right! I bought some new baby chicks! These cute little balls of downy feathers are 20 Rhode Island Red chickens. They are known for the tons of extra large brown eggs they lay and they are super hardy. But more than that……THEY ARE SO ADORABLE! Gotta enjoy them while they are this small.
So how did this start? The other ladies aren’t laying enough eggs for our customers. So we are bringing in some new girls to help. The older ladies just don’t lay as many eggs as they used to. However, being past their monstrous teenage years has made them sweeter than ever! They don’t run away like they used to and they aren’t pecking at each other as much. Stewart the rooster may have something to do with it but mellowing with age is so nice to see!
I got 2 boxes of 10 chicks each and brought them home. These tender little cuties spend the first 3-4 weeks of their lives gradually getting used to living in 75 degree weather. Then they can move into a coop, opening the door only when the temperature is over 70 degrees. Fresh out of their box I had to quickly put them in the brooder which I needed to heat up to 95 degrees to start. In the meantime I had to find a good place to set them to keep them as warm as possible. The only room I could think of was my tiny bathroom with an electric heater. So that’s where they sat! The boxes rocking and “cheep, cheep!” every now and then.
Once the brooder was hot enough I picked up one chick at a time out of the box. I held them over the waterer and dipped their beaks into the water so they knew where to find it.Then they were off to explore!
Phew! All safe and sound. Poor little girls were so traumatized most of them immediately fell asleep under the heater and took a nap. SO CUTE!
After a number of arguments over favorite nesting boxes including pecking, screeching and broken eggs we decided it was time to give the ladies another small section of nesting boxes on the floor. We closed the upper ones because they kept jumping out of them smacking themselves on the poop desk across the way. They think they can fly…….well, they can, but lets just say they really can’t judge a distance!
Like with everything new, the ladies were scared of the boxes at first but eventually started to use them. Some dried herbs were tossed in to make them a little more attractive. Now they can be lazy and just walk into a box rather than jump up to find one!
Ultimately we plan to rebuild the nesting boxes with something removable and easily washed. They will also be lifted so they aren’t actually sitting on the ground. But that’s for another day. If you hadn’t noticed we are always working on some sort of project for the ladies. As I always say…..a nice coop makes happy chickens and happy chickens make a lot of great eggs!
Watch the ladies checking out the new digs on their YouTube Channel: