3-Week Old Chicks

Our 37 baby chicks are three-weeks old now. The only thing that amazes me more than how fast they grow is that we still haven't lost any yet!

We have had to go from two brooders, with heat lamps....

...to 3 brooders, no heat lamps...and the screens (that my talented hubby made) are a MUST now....

...as the chicks can now just fly right out without them on there.


Now:  (I had to take this quick, as my first attempt lead to two chicks flying right out before I could snap a pic)

We switched to using sand on the bottom of the brooders.  Don't love this either.

And the chicks have gone from looking like this - nothing but fuzzy fluff...

to this - with real wing feathers coming in quick:

This is fascinating to me....how their wing feathers are growing in like this, "making their appearane" so to speak...and making the appearance of the different breeds very distinct now.  I mentioned that while we were supposed to have been shipped 6 different kinds of chicks, to my

"untrained eye it appears we only have four different kinds."  

 "....but what do I know? Maybe they'll look different as they grow."

Glad I left that leeway there, and didn't declare that we'd been cheated.  Because now it is very clear that we do have six different breeds.  Only a newbie (waving hand) would not know that the wings would come in soon and reveal the obvious differences in the breeds.  

I've looked (and looked) at the pictures on the Mt. Healthy Hatchery site (where we ordered the chicks) and I **think** I have these chicks labeled correctly:

This diagram above is for me...because I would like to have enough chicken knowledge to know what we have, AND which is which.  

Speaking of my lack of knowledge:  When Jas mentioned the other day that he can see their combs starting to come in, Noah piped up with this question, "Combs?  Are they rose combs?  Or walnut combs?"  WHA?!?! I had NO idea what he was talking about...but he showed me a chart he'd been looking at, and sure enough...there are numerous different types of combs.

As is obvious, I am reading at a pace just beyond our experience, only what step ahead of what we need to know to keep them alive!

These recent outside pics were taken during a couple of field trips we took the chicks on.  We set up a "playpen" for the chicks.  Out in the front yard, no less.  Yes, it was a little most red-neck looking contraption:

We wanted them to get some outside time, but can't let them just run and fly away, the current plan is for them to free-range in the pasture but T-Bone is cray-cray, and we needed to protect them from dogs (ours included), so what were we to do?

Grab some leftover "hardware cloth", a wagon, and 2 planters that stake into the ground, and our Monogram flag that stakes into the ground.

When the sun was behind the clouds, the chicks roamed freely all over the playpen,
but when the sun was out, all 37 of them would jam up together under the wagon.

It worked!

Lily Kay even volunteered to spend rest-time out there with them, so they could be outside for longer.  She set herself up in the wagon and had a ball!

And the chicks had a ball also:

And this is what my two littlest ones did while the chicks played in their playpen!

As I quickly discovered, I could sit and watch those chicks for hours (I didn't do that...but I could).

It was fascinating watching them peck at stuff, and walk around, and fly a little, and drink (by dipping their beak into the water and then lifting their head up to let the water slide down - why I found that so fascinating I'm not so sure!).  It is so neat seeing them test out their new little wings.  Usually each mini-flight ended when the chick would run into another chick, not because there wasn't enough room in there - because there was plenty - but because they don't know what they're doing yet or how to control themselves!

Buff Orpingtons

Light Brahma

I unfortunately didn't get any pictures of this, but the chicks found a good spot under the wagon to give themselves a dust bath.  How did they know to do this since their mamas didn't show them?  God-given instincts - Fascinating!  It was so cute to watch them.  The spot was only big enough for two to squeeze in there, and there were always many others waiting around for their turn.  They were not patient, and would push each other out!

It was also fascinating to watch the chicks when they would catch some "prize".  You would know a game would be afoot when they would start cheeping loudly, and one (and then more and more) would start chasing one chick around (with something hanging out of his mouth).  The first couple of times I saw this, I thought, "Oh good, the chick caught some little bug!"  But I finally started looking hard at what they were fighting over - it was normally a longer piece of grass!  Some "prize"!  And they would chase and chase, and usually take turns stealing the prize from one another.  Too funny!

New Hampshire

I also don't have a picture of this, because it was too sad at the time (but it turned out good and now I so wish I had taken pictures!):

One morning as Noah and I were re-filling food and water for chicks we noticed that one little Buff  was smooshed up against the side of the bin, and not moving.  At all.  She looked pathetic.  The other chicks would randomly peck at her once or twice as they would go by.  It hadn't gotten bad yet, but from what I've read, that would get bad if we didn't do something.  So we took that chick out and put her in ICU (the box that they all originally arrived in).  The only thing we could see wrong at all was that her right wing seemed strange, she didn't seem to be able to fold it in all the way flush against her body.  I just knew she wouldn't make it.  I was actually castigating myself for being such a wimp and not going ahead and putting her out of the misery that I was sure she was in.

And then, she was still alive a couple hours later.  I was surprised.

We put food and water in there for her.

She was still alive in the morning.  WOW!  Couldn't believe it!

The children put her ICU box down inside a free bin, because she jumped out of her ICU box (which had very low sides).

One reported that they found her cuddled up inside her food bowl.  Good sign?

And when she was awake and chipper and walking all around that next morning when I was out there, I decided to put her back in a bin with the other chicks and watch how it went.

She was fine.  The rest treated her fine.  And when I looked away for a few seconds, and then looked back, I couldn't even tell which Buff she was (we have 10 of them)...and I took that as a great sign!  Successfully reincorporated into the flock - our first success story!  I was thrilled!

Not too much longer now until we can move them outside...and that day will come none too soon for those of us who are tired of cleaning chicken brooders (which means:  all of us!).

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