July 18, 2012

Safe Treats For Young Chicks

When our chicks turned 3 weeks old we started giving them a few treats. I had to really fight the temptation to give them treats before then. I wanted to do everything I could to keep the chicks healthy from the beginning -include a nutritious diet.     Unless there is a health issue which requires special food they should have nothing but their chick starter feed until at least about 3 weeks old. Starter feed is formulated to be easily digested even by newly hatched chicks.

When those cute fluff-balls look up at you with those sweet little eyes you just want to give them anything that would make them happy!  Avoiding that temptation  gives them a much better start in life…and food should not pose a threat to their health.   

Any treats you give the chicks need to have the peel removed (if possible) and be sliced in very small pieces. Ours love hard-boiled egg yolks (yeah, go figure), figs (we had a tree full of ripe ones), blueberries and strawberries. The little ones can also eat cheerios (no sugar added), bits of cantaloupe and sliced up cucumbers.

Since they are still spending most of their time inside in the brooder I have a shallow dish with small grit available for them when they eat something other than the chick starter feed. Do not leave the grit in the brooder for very long. It is possible for them to eat  way to much grit for they age!

Once the chickens are outside in the coop they will naturally pick up grit, in the form of sand and tiny pebbles from the ground, which aids them in digesting grass, bugs, or treats.
You want your chicks to grow into happy healthy chickens!


July 8, 2012

Chicken Coop-et

It’s all about timing… The Chicken coop was started before we got the chicks. The first home for the chicks was a plastic storage container that became their brooder. We soon realized after the second week they were growing as we watched. So I had to put the main chicken coop on hold for a day and build what we called the coop-et (a bigger brooder) to move the chicks into until the chicken coop was ready. I basically built a big crate that was approximately 24” x 24” X 40”. Size was determined by using one sheet of plywood.



I framed the sides with boards I ripped down to 1 5/8” wide. If you use power tools always follow all safety instructions.

Corners were joined using corrugated fasteners, I used ¼” plywood for the panels. I used white glue and number 2 common nails to attach to the frame. Always square up the frame before attaching the panel. White or carpenter glue makes a stronger panel.

I used 1 5/8” zip screws to assemble the ends and sides plus the bottom. I used screws in case I wanted to disassemble. Tip- I drilled small pilot holes to keep the wood from splitting and used a beveled counter sink it in order to keep the screw heads flush.

The topside was an open frame.


I attached chicken wire to the top with heavy-duty stables and added ¼” plywood gussets on the corners to add strength and keep the top square.  

Two recycled hinges were used to attach the top to the base to allow easy opening.

For the perches, I cut out two ¾” plywood boards and notched out a slot for a ¾” wooden dowel. They were attached on both sides of the sides.

The chicks went into the coop-et at around 2 weeks. . We used wood shavings from a local carpenter mill shop for the bottom. Also added was a little log so they could play on it.

As they continued to grow, their poop grew in size. So cleaning out was more frequent.

--> After the chicks made their big move to the chicken coop we put the original chicken brooder and coop-et to work as storage for wood shavings and straw.  

And… keep them covered to protect from the weather.

Harry - 

July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July! Two Weeks Old

Today the had their first session of free-ranging in the backyard (supervised of course)! A small temporarily fenced area to play. They had fun after about 60 sec. of standing frozen, watching each other for some type of cue that it was okay to go crazy. It's very hot here so we limited their play  to as long as it took for photos. They really weren't sure what to do. Instead of scratching and pecking they immediately ran out of the little openings in the fence…in and out in and out...a new game!

First Outing

While our youngest daughter, who lives in AZ, is home for holiday we are going to name them. Our daughter really wants to pick  the name for Welsummer so they're getting names A.S.A.P! They get in trouble so much that it's hard not to call them by a  nickname and I don't want these particular nicknames to stick.

Almost two weeks old I just can not believe how incredibly fast they are growing. As your can see in the photo above the polish crested is already starting to get a little top-know that will soon be her crest of feathers.


Escapee Wanna-be's...

The chicks are in the middle of their second week of life. I had heard they grow astonishingly fast from day one but this is crazy!  Really. Their tail tufts and tiny wings are coming in over the re down. They already look grown up.  I was beginning to think the hatchery had somehow made a mistake and they were really a week older

Planning her big escape
It's really hot here so there is no problem maintaining the 90 degree temp for their second week.  Because I'm so hot I feel so sorry for the chicks and I want to take them to play in the cool part of the house. And that would not be good for 2 week old chicks! Any sudden temp changes for chicks is not good.

Everyone follow me!

Practicing Their Roosting
Harry built a roost for them to practice umping on.  A dowel mounted on a wood block. They loved it! I guess this was there first 'playground equipment'!


You're not going to believe how fast these babies grow...not kidding!

July 2, 2012

Cute Little Fluff-balls Of Trouble!

They're starting to show wing growth and it's amazing how fast these babies are growing. Playing king of the hill on the water bowl has been the favorite game since the second day. They also play 'Attack the Thermometer' since they've gotten a bit taller! They stand around it and take turns running up to it, pecking at it twice then running back to their spot. Eventually one of them knocks it down on top of the others and all you know what breaks out for a while.

Queen of the water bowl

Attack! Attack!

Big Fluff Balls

So Sweet

Wait till you see them at just two weeks!


July 1, 2012

Clean, Dry And Warm Brooder

Big Clean-up Day for Brooder

Wow, little chicks make a big mess...big!!!!! They not only poop a lot but they constantly spill and splash their water everywhere. You will need to do daily cleaning of the brooder such as changing bedding and cleaning any obvious gunk (and chicks produce a lot of gunk).  And then there is the big weekly cleanup of the brooder! This will have to happen weekly till they move permanently to their coop and run (and cleaning the coop is a whole different learning experience)!

We moved chicks into large cardboard box, temporarily, for the brooder cleaning. The box or whatever you choose to put them in, while cleaning the brooder, should be up to the same temp as the brooder before they go in. It's important to maintain the correct temp for the chicks while they are in another temporary area. Sudden change in temp for chicks is another big stressor for them!

Fun for chicks...?

New stuff to peck at!

The Plastic bin brooder is scrubbed very well using a lot of water and a little vinegar or baking soda. Do not use anything toxic to clean ...even if you think you will have no problem rinsing it all out. At this age the chicks are just to susceptible too everything.

The feed and water containers will need to be cleaned and refilled several times a day for the first few weeks. As they get older you will move to bigger containers for food and water and they will need to be still need to be cleaned and refilled daily but the number of times will depend on the chicks themselves, how much food and water they go through and how much 'fun' they have playing in it!

Thoroughly clean the thermometer and any little toys they might already have (I can't stress cleanliness enough)!  Dry everything well with a towel.  If the sun is out and you have time set it all outside. Leave it for as long as you can...sun is a great antibacterial agent.

From chicks to grown up chickens cleanliness of their living area can't be stressed enough!