Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chickens! - Week 2

We've had our chickens for over a week now and you can definitely see how they've got different personalities. As groups we're seeing that the red ladies are growing faster, are more shy yet a bit less skittish and seem to be coming into their feathers faster than the more inquisitive black ones. They also tend to stay in groupings of their own colors. I told them I won't stand for segregation in this house so hopefully they'll come to be more comfortable with each other. So far no one has come to blows.

 "Get that camera out of my face!"

To get them used to us and us handling them we've begun spending time each day feeding them from our hands. At first they were completely afraid of our hands and arms entering their mini coop, but once one realized there was food on there (and that it wasn't a death trap) they all came running. Now when they see us starting to open up their coop (dog crate) they come looking for the food on our hands, even when there isn't any. It's silly because it's the same food in their food dispenser and that dispenser is full. Maybe they're bored.

You can start to see real feathers coming in already replacing the downy fluff they had when we first got them. They also walk around like mini dinosaurs. As they were pecking the crumbles of food off my palm today I imagined a flock of Compy's from Jurassic Park massing on a fallen human and just all taking tiny bites of their prey. It was actually unsettling.

"Damn you prehistoric chickens!"

Here is how Lola spends most of her time, watching, waiting for the right moment to attack. We've had to cover the front of the crate that has a gate at chick level to keep them from sticking their heads through the mesh. 

One of the funnier things to realize since we got the chicks is that they pass out almost instantly, narcoleptic-style. They'll be fully awake one second, then they'll sit down the next, and within 3 more seconds they've face-planted into the bedding. And that's how they sleep at this age. I have to keep giving the crate a bit of a shake to make sure their not dead. So far they're all doing very well and are still alive. Woohoo!

We've thrown in some branches for them to get used to roosting. At first they were freaked the hell out, but like the hands of the giants that bring them food they got used to them fairly quickly. Last night was the first time we saw them roosting as they slept. I was wondering if the guy underneath was going to get pooped on, and sure enough this morning he had a big poop stuck to his back. Chickens can be assholes too, don't let them fool you.

While the heat lamp is their main source of heat you do need to give them some darkness each day. You want to give them almost 23.5 hrs of light when they're first starting out but then gradually increase the amount of darkness each week so they get used to the normal schedule of the sun. But, they panic when the lights go out. Here is a video to hear how unhappy they are when their sun falls out of their sky. Poor Chicken Little.

See you next week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chickens!! - Day 1

For us it's Day 1, but for the chicks we got it's day 9 or 10. We would have liked to have gotten day old chicks but the place we went to to pick them out had only a small selection. Though they did have day olds we decided to go with some week olds because they were more likely to survive and we were able to get a greater variety.

We ended up getting three Barred Rock and three New Hampshire Red pullets. (pullets = young hens)

Here we see one NHR looking at me looking at her through one of the holes in the box they came home in.

Little dudettes all huddled together trying to hide from the big scary humans.

 We borrowed this set up from a friend but decided to use a big ol' dog crate we had lying around. It would give them more space and cut off floor drafts.

  This is the dog crate with the water and feeder inside.

 Jane putting the first chick into dog crate. You can see just how big it is in this image. We tied the heat lamp to the door with wire.

And here they are getting used to their new surroundings.

"What chu' lookin' at sucka?!" 

And there you have it, our first flock on Day 1. When they grow up they should look like these guys.