When the baby chicks were little, I could not believe the amount of dust that they generated. I had no idea why and initially chalked it up to the brooder’s bedding. However, I noticed that as they grew in size so did the dust. I was still using the same amount of pine shavings in the brooder for bedding, so why more dust? It surely could not be solely from the pine shavings and I was right. It was from the chickens themselves. The majority of the dust was coming from them.
The first temporary home where day old chicks will live until they are six weeks old is called a brooder. A brooder can be created from practically anything as long as you keep your baby chicks safe and draft free. From rubbermaid tubs, cardboard boxes, metal feed troughs or even prefabbed brooders, the possibilities are endless. If you only order a few chicks, you can start out with a smaller brooder and increase the brooder’s size as they grow. This chick brooder DIY project is super simple. The brooder should include a heat source, a feeder filled with chick feed, a waterer with marbles added for safety, and fresh kiln dried pine shavings.
This year, we are adding new chicks to the flock. Like our original flock, we ordered six new little ones from My Pet Chicken. Come late spring we will be joined by two Buff Brahmas, a Salmon Favorelle, two Easter Eggers, and one Golden Laced Wyandotte. We are all incredibly excited! One other thing that has us super excited is that we can now use the Brinsea Ecoglow 20 chick brooder instead of the traditional heat lamp. Last time, we ordered chicks this awesome product was not even on the market yet.
Social media is a wonderful thing when it has the ability to connect people that live so close to one another that never would have met if it weren’t for the power of the internet. One such person is Susan from Itzy Bitzy Farm. Susan is one very talented horticulturalist who moved up North from the South only two years ago. She is an amazing gardener who can grow and teach you about anything that grows in the dirt. The other afternoon I had a chance to swap chicken advice for gardening inspiration and plants. It was a wonderful day. We started off touring her garden. First stop was the greenhouse. As she rolled up the door, the warm steamy smell of fresh mulch filled the air. Love that! Susan also shared an amazing tip. She keeps an oscillating fan on low blowing across her seedlings. This helps to make their stems strong and sturdy against the wind.
|Tiny asparagus ferns|
|New peas emerge from the warm soil.|
On the enclosed porch sits a lovely brooder that Susan built with her son for her newest family members; eight little ones altogether in assorted breeds- Buff Orpingtons, Delawares, Silver Laced Wyandottes and Speckled Sussex. Susan picked them up from a feed store 30 minutes from her home. She also was able to purchase a coop for her girls there too, but they are still too young. They are only one week old. For now they must remain in their brooder. Susan and her son created the brooder using plywood and hardware cloth. Inside, 12 inch tall corrugated cardboard surrounds the outer walls preventing drafts from entering. A heat lamp hangs from above. One chick feeder contains feed, while the other is filled with water and marbles fill the water tray to prevent accidental drownings.
As soon as Susan opened the brooder door, her little ones came to cautiously say hello. Her Buff Orpingtons are the most curious. Soon enough, one hopped up onto her leg to examine a treat.
It is so clear to me how much Susan has already bonded with these adorable one week old babies!
Susan has done her research and it has paid off. She has even found a wonderful feed store that makes its own feed locally.
I am thankful for the role that social media plays in the world of chicken keeping. In fact, I wish that lived closer to so many of you. Oh, how I wish we could shrink this big wide world we live in. To me, there is something to be said for meeting in person. Those are the connections that bring things full circle for me. Of course, there is something to be said for the chick fever that sets in when I meet them in person too! How can you resist coming face with this?
Susan is new to blogging but has so much to share. Please take a moment to stop on by her blog and leave her a word or two of encouragement, for a new blogger they mean so much. Also, don’t forget you have just a day or so left to enter the coop giveaway! Click here to enter.
Photo Credits: Tilly’s Nest
Proud Momma Dolly looks over her little ones as they eat, drink and explore in their private brooder.
We are away this week visiting Mickey! Feel free to leave comments and captions for this week’s photos. I can’t wait to read them all when I come back. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week of photos.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest
Yesterday morning, I let Dottie Speckles, our one week old Silver Laced Wyandotte, come into the house to see the kids and spend a little time with her human family. It is very important to me that we encourage her to like us and not fear humans. We had fun getting to know her. She enjoyed nuzzling into the notch of my neck. Then I felt it; OUCH!
That hurt. She was pecking at my mole. I repositioned her on my chest and moved my t-shirt up higher on my neck. She walked around on my chest for a little then returned to my neck. The kids enjoyed petting her. She too was enjoying it so much that soon enough, she was closing her eyes. Then, again in a different spot, OUCH! She was after a different mole! I thought that time she drew blood. Who knew that moles were so sensitive?
I decided to move her down to my belly. There she sat. As I was teaching my 4 year old daughter to pet with 2 fingers, Dottie went after another mole on my arm! Goodness, I think she is addicted. After spending about 30 minutes together as a family, we returned her to her chicken brothers and sisters back in the brooder.
I smiled as I closed the door to the tiny coop. Thinking to myself, now I have a chicken that not only steals jewelry from my ears, but also one that loves to attack my moles. Who knew that chicken keeping could be so dangerous! Somehow, I am not so afraid to try bee-keeping now.
Last night, Dolly slept with the large flock out in the coop. She has decided to return home with her older flock now that her chicks are 4 weeks old. It took her a few days to make her decision. Dolly and I worked together to help her transition easier. Over the past few days, she spent more and more time out with her old family and less and less time with the chicks. Today, she no longer calls for her chicks when in the large coop area. She also no longer cares to find me to help her return to the brooder and her chicks. She has made her decision.
I do have to say that keeping the chicks is a bit easier for me without Dolly in the brooder with them. I find that I do not have to clean out the waterer and feed dish as frequently. Perhaps, it is because there is not an over sized chicken in the brooder scratching pine shavings everywhere. The chicks are also not as afraid of my hand. Still timid, I can reach in and not have panic ensue. I also do not have Dolly pecking at my hand and warning her babies of my hand’s arrival.
Last night, the babies slept well. They did not look for Dolly to help them fall asleep as they did two nights ago. Instead, they nestled together,creating a downy patchwork quilt amongst the brooder floor. In the middle of it all, was Dottie Speckles, our 4 day old chick, laying her head on the wing of her new found sibling, our brooder’s alpha rooster!
Finally, a small pecking order is starting to develop. At the helm is Dottie Speckles! She runs the show. I find it so funny. Everyone in the brooder follows her lead. She holds her head high and carries herself as though she is very important. When she drinks and eats, everyone follows her lead. She is a hot ticket. I also find that the roosters are starting to have mini-battles to determine the alpha male. I laugh, as it reminds me of a real western showdown. Everyone is growing up so quickly.
I am glad that Dolly is happy to be with her old family and in her original home where she can relax, visit and scratch amongst familiar surroundings in the run. There truly is no place like home; even for chickens. Meanwhile…three other hens are broody in the coop!
|She is the tiny little head toward the top right.|
Dottie Speckles is growing up fast. While the others are almost 4 weeks old and appear to be in their awkward teenage stage, Dottie is 4 days old. Yet, she thinks she is one of the big kids! I often find her shouldering her way in between the others that are taking a drink and eating. She also loves to stand in the middle of their morning scratch treat. She is not afraid of the scratch frenzy that occurs! She enjoys preening and scratching amongst the floor shavings. I think that she has even begun to pick-up the others’ bad habits! Dottie loves to be the center of attention. I think that Tilly is going to meet her match when I introduce Dottie to the rest of the flock.
Dolly decided this morning that she wanted to be with her big family. I returned her early to the run this morning. She is having a great time. Later, I will see if she wants to return to her chicks. It’s up to her today. In the meantime, I would not be surprised if Dottie is running the entire show next week.
|Here she is next to one possible rooster|
Photo credits: Tilly’s Nest
Yesterday around 4 pm, Dolly desperately wanted to go outside into the bigger run. I really could not blame her, as I too would be tired of living in a brooder with 8 little chicks. She needed sometime to herself. I obliged.
Out in the run, she was having a fantastic time. She took a dust bath and enjoyed standing on the log with Chocolate shouting out to the world her return. She was having so much fun that she did not want to return. Around 5:30pm, I needed to leave to run an errand and I knew that I would most likely not be back until after they went to bed for the night. I tried to bribe her to return to her chicks. I tried treats, love talk and reaching into the coop without any success. Finally, I decided to just leave her. Meanwhile, things were quiet in the brooder as the babies were all taking a nap.
When we returned, it was after 9pm. Everyone including Dolly was asleep. I locked up the coop and then came inside to spend time with the babies. Everyone was sleeping except for Dottie Speckles. She was having a party at night, like most newborn infants do. She was peeping and eating and drinking and having fun running over her new siblings’ backs. Despite her silly antics, no one got upset at her. Finally, she did settle in amongst the downy blankets of chicks and fell asleep.
Last night it poured. We awoke to thunder and lightening and a deluge from the sky. When I went outside to the large coop and run. Dolly was inside the coop looking for her babies. She was calling for them. She seemed upset and kept trying to look underneath the broody twins, Meesha and Autumn for her babies. She was easy to grab. I picked her up. She did not fuss one bit. I returned her to the brooder. It was a sweet little reunion. They were all happy to see each other. Dottie Speckles kept jumping up to pull on Dolly’s upper chest feathers.
They say that Mother Hens will let their babies on their own at about 6 weeks. Everyone is now 3 and 1/2 weeks old except for Dottie Speckles. Over the next coming week, I think that I will let Dolly determine what she wants to do. I will continue to give her choices. I can tell that she is torn between freedom and her babies. I wish I could let her know that her chicks will be just fine no matter what.