Sunday, March 1, 2009

Chickens are weird

So I sent dh to pick up a few (25) more chicks yesterday from Atwoods, I got 2 huge boxes from work and I joined them together to create a very spacious brooder for the group. We decided to combine the original 10 with the new guys. The have 2 heat lamps, 2 feeders and a huge waterer. The boxes are covered by a fitted sheet made for a toddler bed (I don't own one of those nor a crib so it was perfect). When you open up the lid to do anything it feels like the tropics in there, I am very tempted to live with them instead. :) I noticed last night that some of the chicks like to sleep by the waterer, it's odd really because they are actually standing in the water, attempting to sleep. Now if it was just 1 I would think nothing of it but there was a group of them.

This morning we woke up to find that there was still a group in and around the waterer sleeping, then we noticed a black mass in the waterer which we naturally assumed that they had pooped in the water. Turned out to be the body of one of the chicks, then there were 2 more :( As I said they are weird. All the rest have been accounted for, I am glad the bigger ones have adopted the smaller guys. Though I am always a bit worried the way they huddled on them. It is amazing how big the original 10 are, babies sure don't grow that fast in that short a time (though it feels like they do sometimes). I highly recommend picking up a copy of Sue Weaver's book on raising chickens if your new to it and/or thinking about it.


Anonymous said...

You may want to check the temp or leave the cover off of your boxes, it sounds like it just might be too warm for them, especially since you mention the tropics. I used to follow the books and "instructions" until we had a hen hatch a batch of her own...and I realized that those little puff balls are out in the natural air all day long, and just duck under momma when they get a bit too chilly. Since making that realization, I give them a draft free space with enough heat lamps, and have watched them thrive much better than before. If they get too cool, they slip under the lamp for a bit of a snooze and stretch, and off they go again. Be sure to keep their food and water away from the heat lamps though, they can become overheated quite easily too.

If they are all huddled together, something is not quite right in their world. Chicks like their space as much as they like their comfort.

Also, if there is enough room in the waterer for their little bodies, you may want to add rocks or marbles to the water so that they can't actually get soaked. Once a chick gets wet, it is very hard to save it, even for a momma hen :(


Theresa said...

There is a reason for the term ''chicken-head''

Janelle said...

Stacy, you are now officially psychic and will be required to approve all farm purchases and structures. After reading your comment I went to check on the chicks and 9 of the original 10 were dead (I'm thinking heat stroke) and 2 of the new guys. I'm not sure how the others survived but they are all running around and are fine again. We have taken off the cover and will leave the lights on so they can warm themselves as needed. And people wondered why I was apprehensive about chickens, these guys are not as easy as people say!!! :(

Anonymous said...

ok, not to be "snotty", but have you looked at the size of a chicken's head?!?!?!? There surely can't be much of a brain in there ;) That is my first answer every time ;) Really, chickens are not always an easy thing...for lack of a nice way to say it, they have great personalities and can be very creative at times, but also tend to have no self preservation skills, so in plain English? dumb. not intelligent.

We have had something funky happen every year. It is not just a newbie thing. Chickens can be finicky.

The biggest thing in all of my homesteading lessons is to step back and think about how an animal would be taken care of "in its natural state"...meaning if we kept our hands off, how would momma raise it or the herd respond to it, etc. and then proceed with that information and my book/website knowledge, and try to find a balance between the two.

Oh, and I did some more research on the seed stuff. I have not found anything yet that says seeds must be marked "hybrid" (it seems that a fair number of hybrids are marked though!) or "heirloom", but seed varieties that have been recognized as being around for generations (most notably since 1951 for some reason I don't remember), are generally considered "heirloom" because they are a "pure" variety and not a hybrid.

Heirloom seeds will always produce the same kind of produce if you replant their seeds, as long as they are not cross pollinated with another variety. So, for example, if you look for the Roma tomatoes, they have been around for generations, whereas the Early Girl or Beefsteak varieties have not and are a hybrid, created to make a "specialty" product. With that thought, I still stand on my endorsement of "cheap seeds"....which, by the way, I happened to have found at Dollar Tree for 10/$1.00!!!


Janelle said...

I'm going to look at the cheapies this week, 10/$1 is a great price.

Dh and I talked about your tip on raising animals and it was like a duh moment. It's so simple but amazing how it is not necessarily the way people, myself included, appraoch things these days. We've been taught that the answers are in a book.