Friday, April 27, 2012

29 Heirloom Chickies- Week 2

Here's the picture of our 31 chickies the morning they arrived in the mail. You can see my fat pregnant belly too! The post office called us a little after 8 a.m. and we picked them up at 9 or so. One chick was dead when we opened it, the rest looked fine. (What hardened farmers my children are becoming, they didn't bat an eyelash and we didn't have a funeral.)

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.

Within five days the bottom of the dishwasher box was a disintegrated mess and my husband found this unidentified box made not of corrugated cardboard, but corrugated plastic. It was also much bigger (5ft x 5ft, instead of 3x3) and the sides were lower, all around much improved. We got a higher wattage light bulb and put away the hair dryer. Mr. Ussery says he's never used a thermometer and just watches the chick's behavior.

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.

We're so pleased you are reading Farming Salt & Light! Choose how you live!

No comments: