I had prepared a gallon of warmish water with apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup honey, and 3 crushed garlic cloves as per Harvey Ussery's guidelines. I took each chick out of the mailing box, dipped it's beak in the water, and waited for it to move like it was drinking. When it did, I dried off its feathers and put it in the temporary habitat.
James got a discarded dishwasher box and we put an inch of wood shavings in the bottom. You can see the 2 feeders, $3 each, filled with chick starter, the $2 thermometer, and the 3-gallon waterer, $16. The packing instructions that came with the chicks said we should keep them at 100 degrees for at least 4 hours. Our light bulb wasn't putting out enough heat so we kept the hair dryer on in the box for the morning.
If they huddle together, it's too cool; if they are hanging out around the edges, away from the heat source, it is too warm. .. Scooting about over the litter like water bugs on a pond indicates that the temperature is "just right." (Of course, like all babies, chicks need a lot of sleep, so don't be perturbed to see immobile chicks beak-down in the litter.)
They really do look totally dead when they're sleeping. Speaking of dead, on day 4 one chick was slow and clumsy and just died. The same day, when I took out the 3-gallon waterer, I found a smothered Dominique chickie underneath it. So our present count is 29 chicks. Hopefully that holds strong until processing day, aka Fill My Freezer With Rooster Day, aka I'm a Real Farmer Now Day.
You'll remember my recent post singing the praises about Harvey Ussery's guide to the small flock. Click here to read it again... "The Small-Scale Poultry Flock." I've read the chapter on the brooder quite a bit lately, and it is just as helpful as I remember. I treated a chick for pasty-butt (yes, a very technical chicken owner term, as I assured my husband) and it's looking tons better, a little bare from the attention but clean.
Here's what my chickies will look like in a few months:
We chose these breeds because they are an endangered, good-laying, good-meat, heat tolerant bird.
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