So while we got Sam and her chicks in one pasture, the mail order hot chicks (eight days older) are quickly taking over the South Forty. Here’s a couple pictured, when they were a week old and doubled in size, but they’re even bigger now. The one on the left is an Ameraucana, the one on the right is an Egyptian Fayoumi. The former is an “Easter Egg” chicken that lays blue/green eggs (assuming it’s a hen). The Fayoumi is a heritage breed that we thought would be an interesting addition. You can Google this stuff if you need to know more.
We’ve had to move them out of the office and jury-rig a larger brooder (in the big yurt for those who know the place).
The interesting part has been teaching them to drink. Or at least teaching them to drink out of a nipple. For the first five days we just had water in a shallow waterer, which works but requires constant attention since young chicks like to sit in, spill, and yes, shit in, their waterers. So we made a waterer out of a pail and these watering nipples we got online from a place called Farmtek. I was not convinced the chicks would be able to figure the new system out. Didn’t seem intuitive from a young chick perspective to me.
So I installed the nipple waterer and left their regular shallow waterer in place for about 12 hours.
The online forums suggested that because chicks are naturally curious, they’d discover the nipples and when they got rewarded with water they’d quickly figure it out. Apparently that’s true. The next morning I removed the shallow waterer and left them with nothing but the nipple waterer:
Of course they’re a bit spooked just because there’s a camera in the room. But you see how quickly they figure it out. After seeing this video, I figured the pail was actually placed a bit low, and raised higher so the chicks could drink tilt their heads up, making it easier to get a drink. They appreciated that.
P.S. – Yes, eventually I’ll get back to dogs, art and bourbon.
So if you follow me on Facebook you’ll know that we have a hen named Sam that went broody on about a half-dozen eggs soon after we ordered our two dozen mail-order Hot Chicks you saw here in an earlier video. As of yesterday Sam has hatched four chicks with two no shows. Here she is hunkered down on top of the chicks in the back of her small coop.
I’m writing this post about the first of those new chicks. Last Saturday around noon I went out to check on Sam and there was this tiny chick laying on the floor outside the nest, stiff and lifeless. I placed it in the nest, but Sam pushed it away. I examined it a bit, did a bit of prodding and couldn’t discern any signs of life so I removed it and set it outside the pen for later disposal.
I realized that this was probably my fault, since the day after Sam went broody I introduced more eggs to her nest. I read, after the fact, that while a hen won’t reject additional eggs, it throws off her timing at the end since some eggs hatch while she’s still focused on the others. So I assumed that Sam had abandoned this first chick to concentrate on the remaining five eggs.
I go about the rest of my Saturday and it isn’t until around six in the evening that I’m walking up from my office and go past the place where I’d left the dead chick. That’s when I hear a very weak “peep.” I look at the chick and see a twitch of a wing. So it’s not dead, I think. I quickly return it to Sam’s nest, but she’ll have nothing to do with it. In fact, she aggressively pecks at the poor thing. So I take it in the house, introduce a bit of water to it’s beak and we put it under a heat lamp. Slowly over the next hour it started moving first one leg, then the other, kind of scooting around in circles on its belly. Then it started blinking and opened its eyes, and eventually it stood up. And within two hours it was the noisiest thing in the region.
Long story not quite so long, we cared for it for 48 hours while Sam hatched three more chicks, and this morning we reintroduced the first chick and it was old home week in the coop.
Linda named the rescued chick Tara, but I’m leaning towards Spinal Tap in honor of their recent album “Back from the Dead.” Either way, here it is at about eight hours old:
Bourbon, Dogs and Art is a blog by Steven Durland. It is mainly about bourbon, dogs and art (and chickens). BDA is also the name of his art studio. More about that and other bits of practical information available at durland dot com.