Baby chicks are so skittish but put yourself in their shoes! Your tiny and people hands are huge! And the only things you have been exposed to are other baby chicks, food, water and a floor of pine chips. Now one of those people hands is dropping something new into your world. “What is that? What’s going on? Is that going to hurt me?”
One of our training toys we like to give our chicks when they are about 5 to 6 weeks old is a little perch so they can start getting used to roosting.
We weren’t prepared for how scared this batch of chicks would be when we put the perch in. They ran into the farthest corner away from the perch and started climbing all over each other fighting for the farthest spot. We were afraid all the jumping on top of each other was going to injure someone!
After about 15 minutes they finally calmed down but had collected behind their feeder. Leaving a barrier between then and the evil stick! They eventually moved out from behind the food the next morning, probably out of thirst. They completely avoided the area with the perch but that’s okay for now.
Over time our big chick got brave enough to jump up on the perch which fascinated all the others. Now you’ll find up to 3 chicks using the perch. No more fear here!
Hopefully they will translate this perch to a roost when they finally get into the coop.
OK, so our bully chick has gone far enough. We decided it was time to move the chicks into a bigger brooding pen. Give them twice as much space. More space to run away from the bully. Plus, they are growing SOOOO fast! Anyone would get irritable crammed into a small space with a bunch of siblings!
Luckily the hubby is very handy and just whipped up this nice big box and cover! He’s great that way.
We would have moved the girls into the actual coop but the there is still a good 10 days of potential snow in the forecast and the girls are only tolerating temperatures as low as 70 degrees right now. We don’t want to use the heating lamp to keep things warm in the coop because they are known to catch things on fire. Having the brooder inside our heated workshop we have much more control over the lamp, which is why we have a cover with chicken wire to keep the lamp from falling in.
With all the pine shavings and a heating element you can see how something could spark and start a fire!
When we finally move the girls into the coop in a couple weeks their only source of heat will be brooding panels which are made of ceramic. Those are safe touching pine shavings.Next step is getting these girls used to temperature drops so they will be prepared for their final home!
We decided that out of all the chickens we’ve had our favorite was the Black Australorps. They were sweet, quiet, easy to hold and had a different kind of sound to their clucking that seemed more like talking. How sweet is that?!
Cluck Norris is half Black Astralorp and has a great personality so we are hoping one of these 10 babies is a rooster. I’m sure we will find out!
Since this is a smaller batch of chickies than we have done in the past we started with a tub and hung a heat lamp over it. We have a table style brooder panel but it didn’t fit in the tub. Also, the heat lamp was too hot in this small of a space so we bought a water trough instead which gave a good amount of space and the temperature stayed more stable. We need to start at 95 degrees and then decrease 5 degrees per week.
It’s really stressful knowing their little lives are in your hands during this initial time when they are only 2 days old! They are so delicate at this age it’s hard not to worry!
The cuties seem to be doing great on their first day. THEY ARE SOOO ADORABLE! Check out their first drink in their new home and then their first food on their YouTube Channel!
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: