A Bigger Brooder

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!

See their new home:

Chicks Trying to Escape

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:

The Littles at 4 Weeks

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:

A Bigger Brooder

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:

We Want Out!

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:

New Baby Chicks!

Guess what I did yesterday morning!!!

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!

See the new chicks on their YourTube Channel:

Final Chick Dust Bath

It’s the last night before we move the chicks so I want to give them a special treat! I’m going to be dissembling the brooder tomorrow anyway so lets go for broke with a giant dust bath! They loved it! I could have dumped pails of dirt in the pen and it still wouldn’t be enough! They are going to be soooo happy when their first day outside comes!

To see the video of the dust bath, go to their YouTube channel

Chicks Full of Personality

The chicks are really getting personalities now, Behold the Aracauna. They are the ones that lay the blueish green eggs. She looks more like a hawk than a chicken and acts kind of wild too. They are pretty low key but very standoffish. Watch out if they aren’t happy with you. I got a couple big pecks from one that wasn’t happy with me picking her up. They are coming around though.

I think I figured out what the 3 bright yellow chicks that came extra in my box are. They turned fully white with bright red comb and waddles so are most likely Leghorns, which quite frankly I didn’t want. The typical white chicken wasn’t my preference, but I have to tell you, they are curious, strong willed, and the first ones to climb up on me. Oh, and by the way, they are considered very sturdy chickens. Who knows, I might fall in love!

The Buff Orphingtons are the meekest little chicks. They avoid the pecking order arguments and spend their time nesting and bathing.

The Black Australorps seem to suffer from multiple personalities. While the others seem to hang with their own kind, the blacks are all over the place and range from butting chests to claim top of the pecking order, to jumping on top of everyone else, to hiding in the corner. I’m curious how they will change with age.

Mystery Chick

And you?……..I still have no idea who you are. This chick is much smaller than the others, spotted, and is never in the fray or in the corner. Another one I’ll have to wait and see.

The Foul Fowl

Chicks are officially 4 weeks old and boy are they big! They actually look like chickens now with the exception of ugly bare spots where their feathers still need to grow in.

Bigger means eating more, and eating more means pooping more, and it really stinks! I cleaned the brooder every 3 to 4 days and now we are at every other day. It’s taking longer to clean because they want to play with everything I’m working on. It’s really time to get them out of the basement and into the coop. It’s supposed to be good weather this next week so we’ll test the heating lamps the next 2 nights. If all goes well the chicks will be in their new home Friday night!

Maybe it will help them adjust their attitudes a little too. They’ve been literally creating the pecking order and it’s getting loud and obnoxious. Even pecking me every now.

All of us will be much happier once the weekend comes!

The Higher the Better

Chick on Feeder

We’ve had all sorts of antics in the big brooder since the chicks moved in. We have the the morning jog when they wake up, racing in circles, then the testing of the wings causing a lot of squawking as they land on each other. Scratching and kicking up the pine shavings into the food and water dishes is getting real old.

They’ve also been trying to tear apart the pink paper liner under the pine shavings. Every now and then a chick gets a tiny piece in their mouth, the others get jealous, and then there’s a stampede chasing her!

But this is new…….

They are starting to jump up and sit on top of the feeders! okay, so this isn’t good. If one tried to take flight from the feeder, they could probably get out of the pen! It’s only been a week and we have another housing problem we need to solve.
Time to start finishing up all the coop stuff and pray for no more snow!