I finally got chicks just over a week ago! I’d tried to get them the week before, and then as a pleasant surprise, I was able to find the three breeds on my must-have list (Ameraucana, Buff Orpington, and Barred Rock), as well as a fun looking breed for my fourth pick (Silver Laced Wyandotte). I’d wanted three chicks, but it had been suggested multiple times that I get more than three in case not all of the chicks made it. I’d had an appointment at a feed store on Saturday (an hour and a half away), and stopped at a different feed store on my way home from work and got lucky! Unfortunately for the chicks, this meant that the brooder wasn’t pre-heated, so the poor little girls spent most of the evening huddled under the heater, coming out to eat and drink, with lots of peeping. They settled in, and stayed quiet enough through the night.
The chicks discovered pretty fast that scratching at the ground is Great Fun, and bonus points if they get pine shavings into the water dish. Last night there was more pine shavings than water in the dish! The amount of instinct that seems to be hardwired into their brains at hatching astounds me. There is no mama hen to teach these little girls to scratch at the ground for food, or how to preen, but they seem to be figuring it out on their own anyway. Thankfully, I’ve only had to help with their hygiene once – two ladies needed a little help with their behinds. Something called “pasty butt” is dangerous for chicks… it can glue their little backsides shut, and eventually kill them.
I’m surprised at how much they’ve grown in the first week, and how many feathers they have grown! I’ve got two pictures of each chick, the left photo from the day after I got them (at couple days old), and the right photo was taken tonight (a little over a week old) So… meet:
Cleo was named for the coloring around her eyes that reminds me of Ancient Egyptian eyeliner. She’s been working at establishing herself as alpha of the little group. If somebody is in her way, she’ll shove her way under them, or walk clean over them, and she’ll peck at the others a bit, but thankfully she hasn’t caused any injuries. She’s been the first to discover that wings are for flying, though she’s missed the memo that she doesn’t have enough wing feathers to be successful. Ameraucanas are “Easter eggers” – laying colored eggs on the blue/green spectrum. All of my other ladies will lay brown eggs.
Henrietta is the largest of my chicks, although her feathers aren’t quite as developed as Cleo’s. I think the full-grown size of the Buff Orpingtons is larger than the other breeds I got, so I’m hoping that’s the reason that she’s larger – and not that she’s a he! It’s only about a 90% guarantee when they’re a day or two old that you’re getting hens, not roosters. She’ll be light brown when she’s got her adult feathers. Henrietta seems the most skittish when I reach into the 50 gallon tote that I’m using as a brooder box, but she and Penelope are the most settled once they’re in my hand.
Penelope is the smallest of my little flock, and the messiest. When all of the girls are at the feeder eating, Penelope sits there and shovels as much of the feed onto the floor as she can manage… not eating it, just either making a mess or trying to save it for later. Like Henrietta, she’s pretty skittish until she’s picked up… and then she’s interested in looking around (or too terrified to move, one of the two). I’m looking forward to her black and white speckles once her feathers are in.
Athena wasn’t an impulse buy, but she was the only one where I hadn’t decided on a breed prior to getting her. She’ll have beautiful black and white coloring once she’s feathered. She was the friendliest when I first got them, but has gotten a little more standoffish over the last week.
We’ve got the wood cut for the coop, and this week I need to sand it down a bit so that the sealant will take, and get the sealant applied to keep the wood protected. I’d better get moving on that project – these girls will be too big for the guest room soon, and after five to six weeks I’ll be able to move them into their coop – if it’s built! The brooder box has been upgraded from brooder box to chick jail today, by cutting a hole in the plastic lid that came with the box and bolting hardware cloth in the opening. Since the girls are figuring out that wings are for flying, and they’ve already gotten up on top of their heater, I’m sure escape is days away without a lid. As an added bonus, the brooder is now cat-proof, since the silver handles you see latch the lid firmly on the tote!