growing your own organic food, raising livestock, & country living
A city gal and her hubby figure out baby chicks
The chicks above are making distressed chirps because I had just put them into their new home-- they calmed down and chirped happily (not as loudly or shrilly) once they figured out their brooder box and had some time to acclimate.
Of course, the baby chicks arrived a day early, so I packed the kiddo into the car early morning Friday and drove over to the post office to pick up my chirping box. While not surprising since the day-old chicks flew from Missouri to Maine (Cackle Hatchery), five of the little guys were dead upon arrival. Poor things. Three more perished almost immediately after I dipped their beaks in water and placed them into the warm brooder. But, thankfully, the rest (11—four silkies and the rest salmon faverolles) are happily running around the brooder, eating, drinking, and chirping happily (as opposed to unhappily—Youtube it!). One of the silkies does seem to be a bit lethargic. He/she hasn’t really done much other than sleep, so we are keeping an eye on him. Eddie dipped his beak into some sugar water so that it might perk him up. No luck yet though.
I have to admit, the first time a group of them fell asleep I was sure that they were on their way to death too—they kind of look wobbly as they go to sleep. One of the silkies slept with its face resting against the brooder floor. We had prepped the brooder, made by the handy hubby (we’ll post this too), with two heat lamps instead of one and paper towels for easy clean up. We plan to change the bedding to pine shavings after three days. They have two water basins as well as a feeder-- hubby scattered feed too. They promptly pooped on everything (Eddie changed out the paper towels once he got home to keep it fresh and changed out their water as well). One of them had “pasty butt” which is basically dried poop that blocks more poop from coming out, which can be deadly. Eddie dunked this chick’s butt into warm water and wiped the butt with a paper towel—seemed to get rid of what it needed to get rid of.
We used two heat lamps because the brooder is in our drafty basement, and while the chicks are protected from the draft, when we tested the temperature the hottest spot was 95 degrees but the coldest was 60. We wanted the rest of the brooder to be a bit warmer—with two lamps, the chicks have cold spots of about 71 degrees, warmer spots of 85 degrees, and a hot spot of 95 degrees.
We bought salmon faverolles for several reasons after researching chickens. I wanted cold-hardy chickens that were docile and friendly. I also wanted roosters that wouldn’t make a HUGE racket, although who knows if that will actually happen. These birds are also good layers (about 5-6 eggs a week) and grow to be about 6-8 lbs, so can double up as a meat bird.
Silkies are adorable. My colleague affectionately calls them designer chickens. While growing to be a measly 4 lbs on average, silkies are surprisingly cold tolerant as long as they don’t get wet. They also look like a reincarnated fancy grandma in chicken form as adults. But really, I got them because they go broody often (which means they stop laying eggs and try to hatch eggs), make good mothers, and unlike most chickens, will eat bugs in your garden but not your garden itself (or at least not a lot of it). We plan on posting our coop building process once the ground starts thawing.
Although the sources I’ve read and the chicken master guide (see bottom of post, Amazon affiliate link) said that you shouldn’t bug the chickens too much for the first 24 hours, I did go down to the basement at least every hour to check on them! I can’t help but hover. There is one that is bouncing around already, running back and forth across the food bins—I’ll call her/him Taz I think (Tasmanian devil).
We purchased our chicks from Cackle Hatchery—they had good reviews and had the breed we wanted. We bought 5 unsexed silkies and 13 sf’s—3 roosters and 10 hens. Our goal was to keep about 10-12 alive—hopefully they all survive the night! We’ll keep you posted.
As for thoughts so far--