Lesson 742 – Red marbles, James Taylor and a tiny chick

Yesterday I put up a video of our new Black Copper Marans chick; Violet peeping her little heart out.

I took that video on her first day in our house (and the reader that said she was calling for her mom and siblings was right) since then she’s settled down and has become flock mates with our dog and the kids.  Her brooder is in a high trafficked area so she gets lots of attention from the members of her unconventional flock on a daily basis.

During the day when the kids are at school, I’ve also been known to bring her into my office and set her down on a heated blanket while I go about my work. She’s a calm little chick and will often stay put for a long time allowing me to hit my writing deadlines. (FYI, she is still enamored by the James Taylor songs I play while I work.)

Violet rocking to James Taylor in my office.

Violet rocking to James Taylor in my office.

But we still have some raw weather here in NH (in fact, it’s cold, grey day, today) and so I’m a little concerned about keeping her out of the heat for too long. Her pin feathers are coming in nicely but she is still covered with adorable but not very warm baby down.

So, it’s a nice short visit or playtime and then it’s back into the brooder for you, young chick.

The marbles. A few readers noticed the red marbles in the feed and water dishes. I blogged about this for GRIT magazine but I’ll also put the story here.

We have regular feeders and waterers (plastic with the red bases) for chicks that we’ve used when we’ve gotten (or hatched) many chicks at once, however, as Violet was just a single chick, (and when we got her she was very, very small) I thought that the feeders would be a bit of overkill and/or that she wouldn’t be able to reach them.

I needed to get her food and water quickly but in a way in which she would be able to actually have access to it.

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Knowing that chickens are naturally attracted to the color red (fyi, don’t wear red earring into the coop, just sayin’), I solved my little problem by putting red marbles (Logan’s marbles from his collection) into low food and water dishes. (This is an article I wrote for Community Chickens on the topic.) The light from the heat lamp made the marbles especially attractive and she went over to have herself a look. The first few times she pecked at the marbles and when her beak slid off the glass balls into the food and water she quickly figured things out.

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Of course, as you know, chicks tend to grow like weeds. Not only do we not need the marbles anymore, but it’s time to change from the low dishes (that she constantly kicks bedding into) to the conventional feeders. She’s tall enough, strong enough, and knows where the food and water are located.

No worries from this mama hen on that account.

Although we no longer have to use the marbles, you can bet they are going to go right into our chicken first aid kit for future use (sorry Logan.) In the past, we’ve had some young chicks develop respiratory problems soon after coming home from the feed store that then needed to be isolated from the rest of the chicks. If that situation comes up again, I would not hesitate to use this same red-marble set-up for the chick until she gets old enough and strong enough to move to a regular feeder.

***
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two. 

3 Comments

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Charlie, Life Lessons, Personal, The Family, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Lesson 742 – Red marbles, James Taylor and a tiny chick

  1. We’re having a problem with the three hens at the top of the pecking order pecking the one at the bottom enough to harm her. I saw web sites (seriously) talking about putting red contacts on chickens or attaching red glasses to them to stop them pecking enough to draw blood. For example http://thepioneerway.com/farming/glasses-chickens/

    • Wendy Thomas

      The only thing that using red glasses (haven’t heard of contacts) or red lights does is that it* camouflages* injured (red) skin which allows the pecked and injured bird a chance at healing. The light/glasses turn everything red and so the birds don’t recognize which one is being pecked. If you don’t know who to bully, then you can’t bully that one.

      In theory, this sounds good, however, red light does nothing for behavior issues. If the birds is ill or had been weakened, the flock will continue to peck even if the skin heals.

      I’ve also heard of people using aprons on hens to give skin a chance to heal. This, of course, only works if it’s the back that is being pecked on and not around the head area.

      We’ve had a bird who was so horribly pecked that I had to remove her several times a day from the flock in order to give her access to food and water. Eventually she was readmitted back into the flock.

      Maker sure (as I’m sure you already are) that your bird has access to food and water. Isolate her if necessary. Don’t interfere too much, but on the other hand, know when to step in.

      I know of a family that kept a chronically pecked bird first in their basement and then in their garage. After a while it was just easier for everyone for the bird to take up permanent residence in the garage by herself. Not the best situation but from what I gathered, it ultimately resulted in peace in the flock, (even though the husband threatened to “fly the coop” to get away from all that chicken nonsense most notably in the form of droppings on his car.)

      Wendy

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