Now that you have your newly purchased chicks at home, we will take a look at chick behavior.
If you want to be able to pick up your adult hens, make sure that you handle your chicks on a regular basis. We handled our chicks most every day and are now able to pick up our adult hens without any problems. As cute as they are, its not hard to want to spend time with them. Make sure that everyone washes their hands thoroughly before and after chick play time.
Chicks do a lot of peeping, and I don’t mean the creepy kind. They cheep, chirp and peep whenever they are awake, so make sure you are not putting them somewhere that this will keep you up at night.
Chicks eat, poop and sleep the majority of their early lives. The will pass out cold mid-step and lay flat on their bellies and snooze. This is normal behavior, they haven’t been sneaking the Schnapps while you weren’t looking. After a week, I recommend putting a few perches in the brooder box for them to practice roosting. Roosting is how chickens sleep at night. This is nature’s way of getting chickens off the ground to help protect them from predators. Natural branches work the best for this. Find a few narrow sticks outside that can wedge into your brooder box, just an inch or two off the ground, so your chicks can learn to balance.
After a week or two, we began taking the chicks outside when the weather permitted. They loved being in the grass and hunting for bugs. Only do this once you feel confident the chicks will not run away from you, they can be fast little critters.
Chicks grow and change extraordinarily fast. After your chicks are around a month old or so, they will begin to enter a mutant chicken look-a-like phase. They will begin to lose their chick fluff and start to grow adult feathers. This is when you know your chicks are officially pullets (teenage female chickens). If you bought straight run, gender characteristics begin to show around 2-3 months.
Make sure you keep plenty of fresh water and food down at all times. Clean out the brooder box once every few weeks or more often as needed. Chicken poo makes great compost-just make sure your brooder box shavings are compostable.
Once the chicks have lost the majority of their fluff (and its warm enough outside-or you use a heat lamp) it is time to move them to their official home, the coop.
Onward to coop chat we go.
Until next time…