Thought I would show you the chicks: It was a big week for them.
They’re out in the tractor now! Yes, the little darlings are less than three weeks old, yet I have cast them out onto the cruel, cruel world. Am I heartless? Hah. Hardly. I have been watching the nighttime lows and eagerly watching their feather development. The high dew point overnight is what tends to worry me. There’s enough fluff on those babies still and when fluff, unlike feathers, gets damp, they get chilled. But the weather has remained hot, including overnight (not-very) lows. So they’re out.
All 28 babies are doing well in the tractor. This tractor (6’x12′) is fine for all of them now and I need only move it once a day so far. The high grass is fun for them, I think: they stalk bugs and each other. They fly about like fat sparrows, skip-hop-flapping from one end to the other, releasing the bottomless energy that seems to be the province of the young.
They’re growing well on their chick starter feed (20% protein), but since they arrived I have been supplementing their rations with yogurt- or kefir-soaked scratch, crumbled hard-boiled eggs, and worms from the garden. They also get poultry grit thrown in their food (rocks, basically) to help those little gizzards do the tough job of grinding up their food.
Sounds like we’ve got chicks the same age, El. I have few enough (just six) that I can keep them in a tiny pen during the day and then corral them and put them back in the brooder box overnight. Thanks for the reminder about your yogurt feeding. I’ll try mixing some of that with the little dusty detritus that remains in their feeder when all the bigger feed particles have been cleaned out. I’m guessing that stuff is high protein.
You reminded me I needed to respond to your post about yours, Kate. Earlier this spring I stuck 5 CornishX and 1 RIR chick under 2 broody girls who lost their eggs to the cold spring. These two are great moms (one’s a home-grown mutt and one’s a Speckled Sussex) and they did quite well with them out in the tractor and then out/about free-range with their moms. I figured the moms would teach them as well as they could how to be chickens. Eventually the moms abandon them (at around 5-6 wks) when they can fend for themselves so they got thrown in Gen Pop (i.e., the flock) and the RIR is now a layer and the Cornish are now in the freezer. You can’t train the damned Cornish away from the food bowl though. The flock has food 24/7 and that means the Cornish would lie in the food bowl all day if I let them…even during Happy Hour those fat blobs just ateateate. Well. So they got done in at 8 weeks. Tasty, yet not as tasty as these new birds. I think they’ll do fine in your rotation…6 birds esp. those as big as these is PLENTY o meat for 2 folks. Half a chicken lasts us about 5 meals. Anyway, all I am saying is it’s not too arduous, 6 birds, esp. if the moms do the hard work for you first!
I really need to make a tractor like that. I’ve got 3 little feathered out chicks stuck in my shed. I’m just not quite prepared to throw them out into the poultry pen with the big birds yet. Poor little things stuck on cement! Do you mix your own grower? I’m also never sure how to handle the switch from grower to layer mash when I put the young ones in with the layers. So much to think about…
Hi Annette, I always think it’s (the feeding, the integration of the flock) much less complicated than we make it out to be. I hope the chicks do well once they’re introduced. My experience is it always eventually works out…even if there are a few pecks along the way. And I wish I had the time or inclination to make my own mash, but alas! I buy it from a store…luckily the stuff is fairly local.