Chick Prep

I pick up my new chicks this Saturday! This will be my third season with chicks and I’ve learned a few things on the way. The most important, perhaps, is finishing all the prep work early. Doing so allows me to reveal in the joy of new little lives when I bring them home – and blow up my Instagram feed with new levels of cuteness!

I plan to add 20 chicks to my brood this year – 14 Gold Comets (such great layers and incredibly friendly birds), then a variety of others. I’d like to add some blue egg layers so I can surprise my egg clients with them. The trouble is that those types of birds are sex links (Def: Sex Link means you can tell male from female by the color of chick feathers) so I will likely end up with some roosters. Roosters are beautiful but very tough on the gals, so I’m working on how I’ll handle them if (when!) I have them. Anyway. At this point I’m sure I want to add Ameracaunas, but Welsummers and Salmon Faverolles have also caught my eye. I don’t have to decide until I put in my order on Thursday – but at this point I’m leaning toward a pair of each.

I store my brooder boxes in the barn, so the first task was moving them to the laundry room for cleaning and inventory. Last year I attempted to create a tunnel between two large Sterilite containers – it was a total fail! – so I knew I’d be patching those holes.

The patching was pretty straightforward. I cut the plastic that I’d cut out of the lids into small square to fill the hole. I used Gorilla Glue (this stuff is amazing) to attach the patches to the inside of the bin, using bricks to press the two together until the glue set. I used silicone caulk to fill the gaps between the patch and the container (the containers are concave) – inside and outside. All in all the patch is really strong and I’m confident it will hold up to curious chicks and the heat lamp. Just to be certain, though, the patched end will be furthest from the lamp – fingers crossed for no escapee chicks this year!

Once both boxes were cleaned and repaired I inventoried supplies. I have a bag of chick feed in my truck (excellent storage location) but forgot to get a bag of chick grit. They won’t need that for a few weeks. Next I set up one box on my dining table. A table from my bedroom is the perfect height to set the heat lamp to start – it will raise a few inches each week as the babies lose their down and grow feathers. I’ve already filled the box with fresh pine shavings and their feed/water dishes. I’ll turn on the lamp before I go pick up the chicks so their home is nice and warm when they arrive.

I have enough supplies to run a second box if needed – though that’s not my goal. My plan is to move the girls to the portable puppy playpen when they are about 4 weeks old so they can grow just a bit bigger before moving outdoors at 8 weeks. Its nice to have the second box ready, though, in case it turns out we need to separate out some chicks…or come home with an impulse buy of a few chicks!

Finally, I have my pickup box ready. This will be my third year to get chicks from Heartland Hatchery – his birds are wonderful and extremely healthy. I have an old cardboard box filled with pine savings, a small bottle of hand sanitizer (always clean hands after handling chickens!), and a bowl for sugar water. The rocks in the bowl are to prevent drownings in case they trip over one another. The sugar water is to get some electrolytes into their little bodies before they arrive home and get their first feed.

I’m so excited for new chicks! Sure, it’s daunting to think of caring for 60+ birds, but I love providing fresh eggs from healthy, happy birds to my clients. I’ll let you know what my Rent-A-Chicken clients decide to name their girls!


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