Thursday, January 29, 2015

Expanding the Flock - 18 Chicks and Counting

Well, it's been an exciting few days with our new feathered friends.  The chickies only spent one night in their orginal cardboard box brooder.  We decided to upgrade since several of the chicks were already a week or so old and it was a little hard to control the temp in such a little space.
Here is their new Brooder Deluxe:
The plywood frame is 4' x 7'. We have the last 2 ft boarded off to allow for future expansion. We layed down a 1/4" sheet of foam insulation as a barrier between the chicks and the concrete floor.  We added a thick layer of pine wood shavings, 2 feeders, 2 water stations, and their heat lamp.  Just like home.  We took the box they were in and slowly tipped it on its side inside the new brooder. Nobody moved for about 15 seconds. Then one Ameraucana sauntered out.  He took one step out of the box and then suddenly took off running.  The rest of the chicks followed suite, running wild like inmates who had just cleared the barbed wire...flapping, running, and hopping around clucking, "We're free!! We're free!!"  It was pretty entertaining.   
 They have PLENTY of room for now...but, we know now will soon be later...and later means big gangly active birds. We had some wire shelving in the garage that we removed from a closet upstairs. It makes perfect sides to the brooder. Our daughter can peer through the bars like a visitor at a little chicken zoo. We will add some bird netting to the top in a few days before we get any flyers. 
It took us several hours to get an accurate reading on the thermometer under the heat lamp.  The chicks thought it was a chaise lounge and would sprall out on top of it to snooze. But, after some adjustments we got a nice even pocket of warmth for them to nest in. They sleep snugly in the warm light with their beaks tucked in to eachother's feathers. Adorable little mosh pit.

Our flock now totals 18 chicks.  There was (reportedly) a 6 chick minimum when my husband went to pick up our 2 Barred Rocks this, he came home with 4 extra Ameracaunas.
Our flock now consists of 2 Rhode Island Reds, 4 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Barred Rock, and 10 Ameracaunas (unknown gender).
These new Barred Rocks are the babies of the group. Just 3 days old and as soft as silk.  Don't let their size fool you. They are the loudest and most brazen of all.  They are super active, hold their own among the big guys and gals, and have a deafening "peep".
Everyone took to the newbies really well...except the Rhode Island Reds. They immediately turned in to playground bullies. The Ameraucanas are really even tempered and didn't tolerate any rough play. They defended the little BRs and even ganged up to form a protective circle around them until the RIRs lost interest. It was fascinating.
We decided to pull the 2 bullies and the 2 victims all out of the brooder and have a little lesson on playing nice.  Here is the stand off:
About 30 minutes of socializing and getting used to eachother (and me poking the RIRs in the head everytime they pecked at the BRs) and everyone is now getting along great!
And here are the newest Ameraucanas.  They are amazingly different.  Some look like little owlets, others like Eagle offspring.  Black, brown, tan, yellow, stripes, streaks, and Cleopatra eyeliner...Not a two out of the 10 are alike.

What a fun little brood.


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