Note: When I wrote this I was not consulting a calendar and erroneously added a week to the total time we’d had our chicks. At this date they are actually only two weeks old.
The chicks are three weeks old today. Halfway to being old enough to leave the confinement of their brooder and venture into the big coop that will be their home. In the last week we have introduced dried meal worms, which were initially met with a flap of the wings and no further notice, but have become a treat for at least a couple of the girls. I tried them on a cockroach and spider. They didn’t care to even give chase. Although, one of them found a pine shaving covered in chicken shit and ran all over the tank with it in her beak. Her sisters gave chase with much cheeping and squawking. Typical juvenile female activity.
And so it goes, bring home a new toy and the (dog, toddler, cat, whatever) would rather play with the packaging.
I’ve also started adding a bit of chick grit to help with digestion. That they love and fight over. It ends up dumped into the shavings and they have to scratch for it, so I’m pretty okay with the squabbling.
Almost from the start, a few have tried to roost on the flanges on the legs of our light support. It was cute. By the end of the first week they had the stubs of wing feathers which, by week two, they were attempting to use. They would flap their way onto the flanges and take turns pushing each other off.
Last week we noticed that most of them were beginning to get enough air under their wings to almost clear the top of the tank. And they learned, very quickly, how to fly over the feeders and waterers. That only meant that a few more determined flaps would put them up and over the top of the tank!
My solution was to ask Mike, aka “Coop Daddy”, to make a couple of experimental roosts to see if that settled things.
Until last evening when I went in to do my last check and found one girl solidly perched atop the tallest waterer, looking quite content to stay there for the night.
Thankfully, the mini-coop (snort, my chickens will have a mini coop[er]!) arrives on Wednesday. It has a house and a ramp. It’s totally covered in hardware cloth, but gives them access to the grass for the first time in their little chicken lives. I’ve been turning the heat lamp off and the overhead lights on during the day to get them used to a “daytime” and “nighttime” cycle. The mini will give them their first days in the actual sunshine and fresh air.
I have yet to figure out exactly how I will get them in and out of it. I’m not ready to leave them in the big coop overnight and it isn’t ready for them anyway. But this flying and searching for higher ground is only the next step to that end. I will need to put them in the mini for several hours each day, but bring them back to the brooder at night. I’m wishing I hadn’t gotten rid of all our old cat carriers.
Last week we ripped out all of the old nest boxes, which were nothing more than a framework built about four and a half feet off the coop floor, with plywood nailed down as the floor of one huge open box. There were two side walls, one on each end of the big box. But no roof. The back wall was a sheet of cabinet-grade plywood bent into a curve and nailed to the plywood floor. This arrangement explained the ceramic “decoy” egg we found in the initial clean-up!
Now that we’ve ripped all of that out, Coop Daddy will begin work on a set of double-decker nesting boxes, four over four, that will allow 2 hens to a nest, if they choose. In the space left over, we’ll set up the roosts and a catch basin for the copious amount of chicken manure roosting birds create. That should make collecting it for the compost bin much easier.
We’re also working on names. I have a list and have added all suggestions from friends and family. I ordered colored plastic leg bands so we can tell who’s who.
It’s all a bit over the top. I’m pretty sure nobody that knows me expected much less.