I carried the box of babies, chirping up a storm, out the back door to the garage. Apparently eleven chickens and a red light were a bit too much in the nursery for a new mom so Emily banished them to the garage! So out we traipsed to the garage where the set up and Aretha and Ginger had been moved. The noise raised the attention of Daffodil the grown chicken. She pulled up tall and started attacking my boot. Seems one of the babies was talking smack. Safely in the garage, I dipped each tiny beak into the water and let them have a drink. They settled in immediately. The sheer horror and confusion on Aretha’s face was more than amusing as she was ten days old when the chicks came and had clearly made this her domain. While Ginger hid in the corner, Aretha pecked at their little toes and ran right over the top of them. I held my breath and tried to calm her but I knew she just had to get used to the new infants. Which she quickly did. Lesson one: Don’t put chicks around the big chickies yet.
Lesson two: Make sure you keep the red heat lamp on them. A draft will kill such fragile babies. Lift it a little each week as they grow to help them get used to the outside temperature but if they are huddled beneath it, lower it again.
Lesson 3: Some will die, it is inevitable. They are taken immediately from the shell and placed in boxes and shipped all over the country. It is a hard beginning to life. The strongest survive. I came in the other morning to check on the little fluffs and saw one laying down. They do sleep a lot, sometimes with their little faces in the shavings. They look dead, but then jump up in a surprise manner to let you know they were just kidding. This one looked flat, deflated. Her sisters ran over her and she didn’t budge. I gently lifted her little body out of the box. One Buff Orpington less.
Lesson 4: This is where being a mommy comes in. Check bottoms regularly. If they get plugged up with poo, just take a hold of the dried mess and pull quick, like a bandaid. It will free up the space so they don’t get stopped up.
Lesson 5: Feed organic chick feed, specific to new chickies. You do not need the antibiotics and fillers that are in conventional. It doesn’t cost a whole lot more and you know they are getting good nutrition.
Lesson 6: I used a small saucer for water because the chickens were so small but with eleven it sure emptied out quick and there would be a little yellow chick sitting sadly in the middle of the empty saucer. I couldn’t seem to find the little automatic waterer I had for babies so I went to the feed store and bought a new one for five dollars. I filled the water reserve and placed it in their box. They danced around with joy and drank around the miniature water trough. Make sure you check it a few times a day. These kids love to scratch and will pile shavings and poo right into the water….often. As I walked out of the garage, there was the old waterer. In the chicken yard. Who put that there?!
Lesson 7: Give kisses daily. Hold them and introduce yourself so you will have a good shot at having friendly chickens like Peep, who you have to be careful not to trip over because she stops right in front of your feet to be pet!
Food, water, kisses…what more could a baby want?