Saturday, April 14, 2012


Our newest members of the farm arrived this week - 10 adorable, tiny chicks.  I mean, I knew chicks were cute and all, but seriously - I can't get over how precious they are.  My nearly 3 year old daughter is delighted with them, but extremely frustrated that I won't let her hold one.  They feel incredibly fragile.  Perhaps they are tougher than I give them credit for, but at this point I'm not about to risk letting my daughter crush one to death with her overenthusiam. 

My niece came with us to pick up the chicks from our local farm co-op.  The chicks were ready to go, already in their little boxes that reminded me of Happy Meals (chicken nuggets, anyone?).  I let my 5 year old son and niece hold the boxes on their laps on the way home, which was a bit nervewracking for me ("Hold onto your box!  We're turning!  Don't drop the box!"). 

We came home with 5 Barred Rock chicks and 5 Araucanas (Ameraucana-Strain) a.k.a.  "Easter Egg" chickens.  The Araucanas will lay colored eggs - the catalog says the eggs could be blue, green, pink or olive drab.  I believe they are not the best layers (not the most productive compared to other breeds), but I thought it would be fun to have some colored eggs to mix in with our brown eggs.  We're curious to see what they look like when they grow up, as the catalog suggests that they vary in color in size, some chickens having "whiskers" and other having "ear muffs".  The Barred Rocks will have stripes (bars) of black and white on their feathers and lay brown eggs.

As soon as we got the babies home, we quickly put them in the makeshift brooder we set up in the garage.  The "brooder" is simply the name for the place where we will raise the babies until they finally grow feathers and can be moved outdoors.  My husband screwed a few boards together to make a 3'x3' box.  We set the box on a piece of plywood and filled it with pine shavings.  The brooder lamp was lowered to keep them toasty warm.  As I unloaded each chick, I dipped it's beak in water to teach them how to drink (seems like they would figure it out on their own, but all the books said I need to do this).  At first, the chicks just huddled under the light.  They were visibly cold and seemed a bit disoriented.  After a few minutes though, they warmed up and started wandering around, drinking, eating and exploring their new home.  We laid a piece of plywood overtop half the brooder box to give them a place to hide and escape the warmth of the lamp if they got too hot.  Since we have dogs and cats, we were sure to cover the box with sturdy mesh to protect the chicks.

 We are fortunate that our local farm co-op carries organic chicken feeds, which means were were able to purchase feed that contains no medications or GMO's.  I'm not keen on either of those things entering my food supply.  Almost all chick feeds are medicated, which I can see the need for if one was raising chicks in large quantities where disease outbreaks are caused by stress, overcrowding and unsanitatry conditions.  However, for small scale poultry folks like us, it seems unnecessary to medicate animals "just because".

This is our first attempt at raising chicks and we're excited to watch these chicks grow and transform into beautiful birds... and eat those tasty eggs!  Currently, we have 10 laying hens that our step-dad raised for us last year (a mix of Rhode Island Reds and ISA Browns). We had just moved into our home and didn't have the time or space to think about raising our own birds.  He brought them over to us when they were about 2 months old, sturdy enough to be in an outdoor coop.  Those chickens started laying by mid-August, so we'll have to wait quite a while for these new chicks to produce any eggs.  In the meantime, we're having a great time taking care of our "babies"!

1 comment:

  1. How fun! Love the new blog, I'm so glad you decided to go for it!