The chicks are growing fast and feathering out more and more each day. They are approximately 3 1/2-4 weeks old now and have a scruffly, rumpled appearance that is pretty darn cute. It’s been a long, long, long time since I helped raise chicks, so I’m not sure if chicken temperaments differ greatly among breeds at this age or not. These little Buff Orpingtons are chatty, curious, brave, funny, and friendly.
I love them.
This week in chick raising required some housing changes. We had a waterer malfunction, which soaked their big cardboard box. So, both a different waterer and a different house were needed. Also, these chickies are turning out to be surprisingly adept at catching a few feet of air when they want to—which is anytime they’re not sleeping or eating. I guess it’s not unlike a baby reaching its milestones—crawling, sitting up, walking—at some point, chicks want to fly and they want to perch. I discovered that they had acquired this new skill when I walked into the front porch and found one perched on the top edge of the box, which at 18 inches tall, I thought was high enough to keep them in. Wrong.
So, my dad and I brainstormed and decided that our large wire mesh dog crate would be just the right solution. It’s roomy, which will allow for a few more weeks’ growth; it’s completely enclosed with strong narrowly spaced wire which will keep them in safely; it has a slide out tray bottom which is easy to clean; it is easy to safely affix their heat lamp and perch in; and best of all it repurposed an item that wasn’t being used. Free is good. Also, after reading some ideas for bedding, I switched from leaves/straw to old towels. While they don’t get to have as much fun scratching, the towels are absorbent and easy to change and wash frequently to keep their enclosure clean, which is important not only for their health, but for ours since they are in the house. The towels also are textured enough to give them some grip, which is important so they don’t develop spraddle leg, which can happen if their bedding is too slick.
In addition to their feeder, they have a little treat container where I put fresh greens, fruit, and the occasional bug or worm in. They go NUTS over their treats. It is a riot. They also have no hesitation about eating out of my hand or perching on my arm. In fact, if I talk to them or put my hand in the cage, they run up to me (presumably because I’m the treat dispenser). I pretend it’s because they love me back.
Chicks need to be protected from drafts and also from small chihuahuas named Teddy, so I wrapped/taped some cardboard boxes around the cage. It just so happened that the boxes I had on hand were Milk-Bone boxes. So the chicks get to stare at dogs all day anyway, lol. They don’t seem to mind.
One of the dilemmas I faced with my chicks was whether or not to feed them medicated feed to prevent coccidiosis. After reading a lot about this, and all of the semi-contradictory information about what to do, I decided that I would do the medicated feed this time around while I get comfortable with chicken issues. My hope for the future, however, is to only use medications on an as-need basis. Next up: getting the big coop ready for chicks. Oh, and we dug the incubator out of the barn for kicks… I’m on the fence about using it, though. I figure, why bother trying to do a job that a broody hen will not only do happily, but better than I could ever do? We’ll see.
So, that was the peeps. And here are the peepers. And pickerels and leopard frogs and toads. Now you, too, can enjoy the sound of the Ozarks in spring! I took this film real quick on my way out to put up the sheep for the night. I love the sound. Love it, love it, love it. And so I want to share it with you.