The mini-quacking from the chicken coop cannot help but bring a smile to my face. The ducklings are so amazingly adorable. The chicks are cute running about in hysteria. Yes, the babies have been moved to the coop with just a little worry on my part. Last year we were absolutely paranoid when we transferred the new chicks to the coop. The hens look larger than life when you compare them to six week old chicks! They also seem pissier. But we have found a way to do this successfully each time.
1 day old through four weeks old we destroy the bathroom. The bathtub is safe, weather free, continuously warm, and dry (except for the ducks). We set up a plastic tub in the bathtub with a little straw, their feeder and a cup of water. We attach the heat lamp rather low, just above the box. We dip each chick’s beak into the water to get them drinking. We check for poopy bottoms that need to be cleaned (just yank it off) the first couple of weeks. We see if the chicks are huddled under the light (too cold) or in the far corner (too hot) and adjust the lamp from there. The chicks should be running around. Raise the lamp a little each week.
There are only two adversaries of bathtub chick. Cats that can get through the door (thankfully no issues here), and an open toilet seat. I am afraid Decaf could not swim. She hadn’t even flown out of the box yet when Emily found her. How did she get over there?! Conspiracy theories fill our heads.
On their fourth week birthday the bathtub is again available for use. The chicks move to the garage. We bought a large metal portable fence rather inexpensively at the farm store. It folds up or out and becomes whatever size you need. A folding table covered the top with about a foot open on one end to allow the heat lamp to shine through. Same procedure, see if they are running around, make sure they are comfortable and loud. Sure sign of happy chicks.
On their fifth week birthday the whole contraption moves inside the chicken coop. The chicks (and ducks) stay in the cage for another week while the ladies get used to them being there and all the ruckus.
On their sixth week birthday night we prop the door open a few inches. That way they can come out and run in but the big girls cannot get into the cage. The next morning at the crack of dawn I am out there checking to make sure there were no massacres. No one seems the wiser and the interest is in food and freedom. While the hens are out running around enjoying the lawn and the day, the chicks and ducklings wander the coop. They will at some point discover their way out only to have to be corralled back in when they cannot figure out reentry. It is one of our jobs here, rounding up chicks. Not a bad gig. They will eventually grow even bigger and be a part of the flock before we know it. Look who else is trying to join the flock!