September Chicks Update

sept-2016_chicks_updateAs usual, time is flying by. The 16 chicks hatched in early September are now 10 weeks old, and they look (and sound) less like chicks than small adults. Here’s an update on them:

  • American Bresse – 3 cockerels and 4 pullets. Large and meaty compared to the other chicks of the same age. Curious and calm. All white feathering with legs turning slate blue.
  • French Black Copper Marans – 3 cockerels and 2 pullets. Medium-sized, pullets are notably smaller than the cockerels. Flighty, difficult to catch. Feathered feet.
  • Barnyard Mix – 3 cockerels and 1 pullet: one AustralorpX, one NH RedX, and one Gold Laced WyandotteX; pullet appears to be NH RedX. Mixes are easy to handle and intrepid.

Until recently, we had been keeping the chicks in the garage, but they were outgrowing the brooder and making quite a mess in there. We’ve traditionally used large flake pine flakes in the brooder, and the flakes break down into a fine dust that gets everywhere. Cleaning the brooder out is a goggles-and-respirator affair. We needed a different bedding medium. Pine straw is used as bedding, and we have pine trees that have been dropping lots of needles. A quick raking filled two large leaf bags with dry pine straw, and it made a nice, thick mat on the brooder floor.

Chickens (and ducks, for that matter) aren’t quick to embrace change. When we placed the chicks on the pine hay for the first time, they skittered around on it like it was alive under their feet. The pine straw worked well – the poop mixed with the needles and created a mat that was easy to remove, nearly in one piece, and the pine straw was naturally fragrant. And it was free for the raking!

The chicks are enjoying their new run and now have more exposure to the adult flock. They haven’t quite grasped the concept of going into their coop at night, so we have to catch them and place them in there. We’re confident that in a few more days, they’ll be going in all by themselves. Soon enough, the pullets will be laying eggs and the chick days will just be a memory.