We have had the chicks for one week, meaning they are probably 8-9 days old right now. Let me tell you, it feels like we’ve had them a lot longer than one week! Within 4 hours, we lost one, and then about 24 hours later, we lost another, so we are down to just 4 of them. They are definitely healthy and thriving at this point!
I hope this doesn’t offend any of the chicken lovers out there (Linda,) but they really are dumb creatures. Compared to my pigger (to whom I miss so very much,) these things have about 1/1,000th of the brain cells Squiggy had. Then again, they are 1 / 1000th of the size of Squiggy! I may feel this way because we had such a smart pig and the chicks are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Lana is right in the middle.
At any rate, the chicks have about tripled in size over the past 7 days. I thoroughly cleaned out their nesting area (aka a Rubbermaid container) and they are still eating the same food I put in the day we got them. They will need the container (a small sour cream container) refilled any day now, but this 25 lb bag of chick feed may last the full 10 weeks until it is time to put them on laying feed. They love-love-love the oatmeal I give them twice a day. I let them eat that out of my hand so they get used to me feeding them. I have not given them anything else at this point. They definitely make a mess out of their water, so they get fresh water twice a day. We may be investing in a waterer here soon.
I can only tell one of the birds out of the rest at this point, and that is one that I call “Runt.” I thought Runt had a black feather on her be-hind, but I was mistaken. It was caked up poop! She was the smallest the first 3 or 4 days until we realized that the thing on her butt was poop and we (meaning Todd) got it off. Now, she is clean and poops freely. We think things may have been compacted inside of her. She is growing like a weed, catching up to the others!
The other three chicks are at various stages of getting their wing feathers. It is really cool to watch them grow from fluff to feathers! They really don’t have names. I can barely tell them apart. Until I am able to, they are called “the girls.” Natalie (my niece,) chose names for them, but at this point, none of them have stuck because I cant tell them apart.
The first few days, they would teeter on their feet when they got tired, then their beaks would hit the floor, then they would just sprawl out to sleep. Now, they lay like laying hens when they go to sleep. It’s like their natural instincts have kicked in within the first week.
I handle the chicks at least twice a day so they get used to being picked up and loved on. Lana has been in the room with me, but we have never let the cats in the room to see the chicks. We will keep it that way. The chicks are still under a heat lamp. They were supposed to be at 95 degrees the first week, and 90 the second and then 5 degrees less every week after that until it gets to 70 degrees in their nesting area. We are keeping the heat lamp thermostat where it is at this week, and then next week we will turn it down a little. It has been so cold here in Ohio, I want them to stay healthy!
People talk about chicken poop stinking. So far, we have not had an odor at all from the chicks. I know they will be getting a lot bigger, and therefore, their poop will get bigger and smellier, but I think that if we keep their area clean, it wont be a problem. I cleaned the paper shavings out after the 6th day because I was getting worried about it being too dirty in the area. I have provided fresh bedding and turned the bedding nearly every day, but I didn’t want the bedding to get too dirty. There was absolutely no foul odor. I am even wondering if I should put the paper shreddings in garden because I don’t think it has enough chicken poop on it to do anything. I will probably still do it, because it will eventually decompose and make the soil richer and keep the water in the soil.
The feathers on their wings are turning white, which makes me wonder what these little birdies will look like grown up. I kind of had my heart set on brown eggs, but we may end up getting white eggs from these little peepers. Only time will tell.
Todd has a book from the library on chicken coops. He is sketching out what he wants to build, and hopefully that will be done by the time the chicks are a month old.
Raising chicks thus far has been super-simple (except for the first 36 hours)! I would highly recommend it. I think that every child should witness first-hand how fast they grow, how to handle them, and to see where eggs come from! The first few days, the chicks were a little too fragile for the little ones to hold, but now, the chicks seem strong and healthy. Maybe that is because I treated them so delicately because I was afraid of hurting them.
And for your viewing pleasure, here are a few updated pictures of the chicks: