Today I ventured to the local feed store to pick-up more food for the ever growing baby chicks. They are eating so much lately, almost a pound per day. So, on this drizzly and foggy Cape Cod morning, I went on my way. When I arrived, I knew that it was going to be instant temptation. Our local feed store has been getting weekly deliveries of baby chicks. Everytime I go into the store, I find myself resisting my chicken addiction. However, this time there was no escaping meeting the newest member of our flock.
I was good at first. I went over and picked up the food and supplies. I even was standing at the checkout counter. Then, I glanced over at the divided brooder. It had some Jersey Giants left from the previous week and the other two sections were filled with Silver Laced and White Laced Wyandottes. Uh oh; I have always wanted a Silver Laced Wyandotte. I watched them eat, drink and sleep. I had to have one. After about 10 minutes of watching the chicks, I picked out the most adorable girl with a freckled face. She was worth the every penny of the her five dollar cost. They boxed her up and soon enough, I was heading home with chick food and a new chick!
Every chicken expert says, do not mix chicks of various ages. Today, was going to be my experiment. If worse came to worse, I could always separate the group with chicken wire. I took the chick’s Mom, Dolly, out to the large run and coop with the rest of the flock. I opened the new box and placed it under the heat lamp. Next, I grabbed Percy Peepers from the brooder. I figured, Percy was about the same size as the day old chick and did not have much of an advantage with his bad leg. I watched their interaction; no aggression. In fact, they were snuggling after about 3 minutes.
I removed the rest of Dolly’s chicks into another separate box, cleaned the brooder, refilled the waterers and feeder and returned all of the chicks, including the new one to the brooder. I sat and watched. The new chicks definitely recognized the new girl as not being an original chick. They were at first scared and cautious. I gave them some scratch as a distraction. Soon enough, they were ignoring her. Our new little chick on the otherhand, journeyed closer to the heat lamp to take a nap; so far, so good.
I went and retrived Dolly who did not want to return to the brooder. She was busy taking a dust bath. When she entered the coop, she soon realized that there was a new little baby amongst her brooder flock. All of the original chicks were standing behind Dolly seeking protection from the newbie. Dolly gently pecked at the baby. It just stood there. As if nothing ever happened, Dolly and the chicks moved on and went about business as usual. I sat and watched for 40 minutes. Everything seemed fine. After all of the morning excitement everyone decided to take a nap. The new chick nestled close to Dolly, not underneath, but in front. Everyone, including Dolly, closed their eyes.
I am optimistic that this transition will go smoothly. I will continue to closely watch and intervene for the little chick as need be. I am excited to have a new little chick amongst the ever growing teenage chicks now. They are goofy looking as patches of real feathers emerge. Soon enough, our new little Silver Wyandotte will be bigger than the Silkies. As she is a standard breed, she will grow at a much faster rate. I will never claim to be a chicken expert. I will never know as much as my fellow chicken keepers. I am only a novice with a big space in my heart for chickens. However, even experts can be wrong.