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Chick Mom: Part III

Bringing Home the Babies

On May 10th, I picked up my new additions at The Cheshire Horse. Before I left the farm for the store, I turned on the heat lamp in the brooder so that they would be warm and cozy upon their arrival to their new home.

As advised by experienced chicken farmers and the poultry resource books that I poured over before my chicks’ due date, I dipped each of their beaks into the waterer so they would be familiar with its location. The hungry chicks didn’t need any assistance in finding the feeder; they settled in quickly on the first evening, seeming instantly comfortable and alert.

Troubleshooting

In the following days, we observed two birds that were taking a little longer to acclimate.

One of the Lavender Orpingtons had pasty butt, which is when the vent hole of the chick becomes clogged with stiff stool. To remedy this, we added a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to their water, we then gave her a warm bath, and we gently blow dried her tail feathers. After we dislodged the droppings, the pasty butt (also known as pasting up) was remedied.

Our Silver-Laced Wyandotte, whom we named Ophelia, slept much more when compared to the others. We handled her often, and we quickly realized that it seemed like her beak couldn’t open. I gently pried her beak open and gave her water from my hand. It turns out that she was dehydrated and very thirsty. Luckily, this small effort seems to be all the help that she needed! After the incident we reminded her of the waterer’s location, and by the next day she was as active as the rest of the flock. This independent young lady is now is bold and inquiring, and she loves snacks and cuddle time.

Flock Photo Album

Our friendly chicks have quickly wiggled their fuzzy way into our hearts. Because they arrived in the early spring, it was too cold to move them immediately outside. We set up a brooder inside the house which allows us to keep our chicks warm, and it also allows us to keep an eye on them as they develop their personalities.

One of the Lavender Orpingtons has a black feather on top of its head and is larger than the rest of the Orphingtons. We currently think it is a male and may be our future rooster. He is the favorite of Isaiah, my youngest grandson, and he has been named Chirple Gray

The remainder of the Orpingtons are named Summer, Winter, and Layla, but we quickly lost track of which one is which. We hope that as they mature, they develop identifying characteristics that we can use to tell them apart.

The Sussex bird, who we have named Lady Freckles of Sussex, towers above the others. She was first to fly, always explores new toys first, and usually gets the highest perch. However, much to our dismay, she wants little to do with humans.

Rosie, the Rhode Island Red, keeps right up with [Lady] Freckles, but is a bit more sociable with us, and is much more mischievous than the other chicks. One night, at barely a week old, I observed her up and about while the others were sleeping… she pounced on each of them to wake them up!

The Dark Phoenix, our Sapphire Olive Egger, loves cuddle time with my daughter. She is calm, brave, and simply gorgeous with her gold crown of feathers.

Luna, the Midnight Majesty Maran, has sophisticated white eyeliner. My granddaughter always calls her “The Queen.” Although my granddaughter says that she loves Rosie and Ophelia, cuddle time is never complete without special time with Luna.

Shortly after their two week old glamour shots, these chicks began molting their baby fluff and growing their feathers. The process, though awkward, has been amazing to watch. We could see noticeable changes nearly hourly! Because of their new feathers they all began flying and jumping about without regard to where they might land. The screeches of agony from being dive bombed by one another had me worried, so I decided to bring them into their new coop a little early. Normally, six weeks old would be the proper time to move out of the brooder.

Moving Out

At the young age of four weeks, my chicks have moved out of the house and into their coop. It is outfitted with a heat lamp which keeps the coop consistently at 75 degrees, even through cold New Hampshire spring evenings. Enjoying their freedom, they spent the first day running and flying from one end of the coop to the other. Rosie and Freckles flew to the high perch, and eventually Luna and Phoenix figured out how to join them.

When the coop door was opened, we airlifted three to the outside. In an effort to follow her friends, one of the Orpingtons figured out how to use the ramp while the rest of the flock looked on.

We will use the outside pen for introducing my older hens to this new flock. Although I have tried to acclimate Olive and Rocky (read more about my older hens in Chick Mom: Part One) to the new coop, they still prefer their old home. It was not my original plan, but it has worked out nicely since the coop was needed earlier than planned, and the two flocks are not quite ready to mingle. My hope is Olive and Rocky will join the new kids at some point this summer.

No Empty Nesters

Just before the growing chicks moved out of the house and into my coop, the Guinea Keets moved in. Incredibly marked and very petite, they are beyond cute! I love watching them, as the keets move like a school of fish, in sync, as if they share a brain. Their whistles and chirps sound like tree frogs and crickets. For now we find their sounds adorable, but we understand their voices change when they get older.

In a single week, the guineas doubled in size! We feed a quality game bird starter feed, which is essential for supporting this rapid growth. We would love to cuddle with them, but they prefer their independence; they bounce and wiggle too fast for me to feel safe taking them out of the brooder. For me and my family, the joy of observing them is enough. I can’t wait to watch them grow in mature guinea fowl!

Check back in a few months to hear more about my chick- and keet-raising adventures in my final blog post.

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