Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Awkward Chicks

Our chicks are now almost 1 month old.  It's amazing to see how quickly they grow.  The gals (at least we hope they are all gals!) are entering into the awkward stage, where they are mostly feathered out, but still have some baby fluff.  They are looking more and more dinosaur-ish every day. 

The biggest chick.  She's been dubbed "Gigantor".

Last Friday, we were given 2 more chicks to add to our brood.  A friend's mom had ordered a few more chicks than she actually wanted and was looking for homes for 2 chicks.  We eagerly said "Yes!" and were delighted to learn that the chicks were Buff Orpingtons, the breed I had wanted to purchase this year, but couldn't find any at the right time.  Buff Orpingtons have a reputation of being docile, calm and friendly.  Already, I notice that they are much more chill than our Barred Rocks and Araucanas.  I've been doing my best to handle our chicks and get them used to being around people and our dogs, but the poor things freak out when I try to catch them and I wonder if I'm doing more harm than good.  A few of the Barred Rocks are starting to warm up to me, but the Araucanas are quite aloof.  The Buff Orpingtons don't mind being handled at all. 

The Buff Orpington chicks (on the left) - we're open to name suggestions... "Thelma and Louise"?

When the new chicks arrived, we weren't quite sure how to introduce them to the existing flock.  If you didn't know, the term "pecking order" originates from observing chickens.  They have a very complex social status and adding new chickens can upset the order and cause mass chaos.  Things can get ugly.  It's not unheard of for new chickens be pecked to death.  We were a little nervous, but decided to throw the new chicks in with the rest, hoping that they were young enough that the pecking order was not too firmly established yet.  After a few tense moments and a bit of pecking at the strangers, all seemed well.  We kept a close eye of them for about 30 minutes and when I checked on them an hour later, all the chicks were cuddling together, even the new girls. Whew! 

The same day we received the new chicks, I noticed that one of the Araucanas seems to have a problem.  Her beak is crooked and points down too far at the end. She can't close her beak.  I never noticed this before and I'm curious if something happened or if I simply wasn't paying close attention.  We're not sure if this a problem or not - will it affect her eating?  Will she grow properly?  She seems pretty small, especially compared to Gigantor, even though they are the same age (but different breeds, so maybe that is a factor).  Should we be concerned about this?  Time will tell, I suppose.

Poor little "Crooked Beak"

 I just realized now that we need to think about moving these gals outside soon (they are still in the brooder box in the garage).  We're still not sure what we're going to do - if we will build a separate chicken tractor for them or if we will attempt to immediately integrate them with our existing flock (they will be integrated eventually, no matter what we do).  We've got about 2-3 weeks to figure it out.  Better get on it!

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear the new chicks are doing so well, Lori! I hope little "crooked beak" will be ok. It's kind of cute. :)