We have exciting news! We just brought nine new babies into our home! Baby chicks, that is! Naomi has been urging us to get some new baby chicks ever since our last batch of little chickies grew out of their brooder. We had wanted to increase the size and variety of our flock this year anyway, and with the recent loss of some of some of our favorite birds to the appetite of a stray dog, we knew we needed to get some replacements soon. Since we are finally putting the finishing touches on our upper perimeter fence, I figured now is as good a time as any to get our next generation of birds growing.
We stopped by the feed and seed store yesterday on our way home from our weekly Classical Conversations homeschool group to see if they had any chicks for sale. Sure enough, there were two tubs of baby birds in the middle of the store when we got there. Naomi impressed everyone by identifying the Guinea keets all by herself while we were there! We had looked at pictures of baby Guineas a few days earlier, but they look so much like baby chickens, I would not have guessed they were Guineas without reading the sign. We picked out 6
Marans (Naomi will finally have her long desired “zebra chickens”!) and 3 Delawares. They are all pullets (girls) and supposed to lay 3 and 4 eggs per week, respectively.
We also signed up to get some Speckled Sussex chicks, Bronze turkeys, Mallard ducks, and Grey (Toulous) geese as they arrive at the store over the next few weeks. We may try our hands at growing pastured broiler (meat) chickens this year too.
When we got the chicks home and set up in their little brooder box (a rubbermaid tote with a heat lamp, 1 quart waterer, and small container of feed) I noticed that we were given one chick that is about half the size of the others. She also had a condition called “Pasty butt”, which sometimes happens when chicks are under stress- they get a build up of poo on their rear end that can block their poo hole and kill them. It’s not hard to fix- just take a damp cotton ball or paper towel and soak off the poo, then use a clean paper towel to wipe their rear end with a little oil so that future poo will slide off easily. I was a bit annoyed that the guy at the store picked out such a weak chick when I specifically asked him to pick out strong birds for me. I guess I should have picked them out myself. I have affectionately dubbed her Tiny the Tenacious though, because she has been busy eating and drinking nonstop since I cleaned her up- I guess she’s trying to catch up with the rest of the chicks!
I added a little apple cider vinegar to their water because I’ve read that that can help keep their water free of bad bacteria, and I put a little probiotic powder in their food to help build good intestinal bacteria for them. I hope it helps!
They have been eating like crazy since we put feed in for them. At first they were all panting between bites and I thought I had the heat lamp too close, but then I noticed they weren’t drinking their water. I dipped a few of their beaks in the water gently, and then they all started drinking like pros!
Update: I just got finished finished feeding Shoshanna (it’s the middle of the night as I write) and when I checked on the chicks I found Tiny drowned in her water cup I had put in for her when she was having trouble getting water at the big waterer. Poor little thing. I really thought she could make it. I’ll have to break the news to the kids in the morning. Death is part of life, especially life on the farm with little animals, but it’s still hard and sad when any animal dies while in your care. Rest in Peace, Tiny.
Here’s hoping the rest of the chicks grow up to live happy chicken lives here at our Abundant Acres Farm! Now I need to build a new chicken tractor!