Tag Archives: chick care

Lesson 1169 – Getting Ready for Chicks

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I recently got these questions from a reader from Washington who was planning on getting some chickens in January or February (that’s when they normally come in.)

1. Can you tell me if I can put dried herbs in their box with the red light?

2. Should I use Pedi lite in their water when getting them home..if so how much?

3. Should I use natural apple cider as a booster in their water, if so, how much and how often?

4. Should we de-worm them as they grow a little bigger?

Here is my reply:

Getting chicks in Jan/Feb is going to be tough as you will need to be extra sure to keep warm.

With regard to putting herbs in the box. I’m not convinced that herbs add anything other then a nice smell and some insect repellant help. That being said, it’s a very individual choice, some people swear by them, some don’t. I personally think that giving your chickens dried herbs to eat in the winter is like giving them supplements, no harm done and it might even be good.

Having said that though, I would hesitate to give herbs to chicks. Sometimes chicks don’t drink enough water (hence Pasty butt) and if you feed them dehydrated herbs, they might get constipated.

If you give them fresh herbs, you might be overwhelming their little systems. I’d hold off on all herbs until they are older.

As far as a red light, is that for warmth? If so, you don’t need to have red (although it won’t hurt.) Some people put lights in their winter coop to induce egg laying, that’s something I don’t recommend (unless you are a business and rely on eggs.) I figure if the chickens bodies are trying to rest during the winter then it best to let them rest.

Lastly, about lights, hot lamps in hen houses have started tons of fires, if you are going to use a lamp do not use a strong light (60 watts is usually enough) and make sure that it can’t be tipped over.

A healthy chicken or chick does not need Pedialyte. Save that for a chicken who is injured or sick. Chicks have an inner reserve and can go without food and water for the first 48 hours. I wouldn’t bother feeding or giving them water until you get them home.

Apple Cider Vinegar – another personal choice. Some people add it all the time to their chicken’s drinking water. We don’t use it.

A few bits of caution if you do use it:

  • Follow directions carefully and carefully measure what you are adding. I’ve heard stories of chickens having their beaks being eaten away by very acidic water.
  • If you use galvanized steel water feeders, be prepared for them to dissolve in the acid from the ACV, you might end up replacing the feeder every year.

Lastly, there is no need to de-worm unless you see worms or blood in the droppings. We’ve had our chickens for almost 6 years and have never had to de-worm.

Congratulations on your pending flock, good luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

 

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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.

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Lesson 386 – a bird of a different feather

It probably comes as no surprise that I find chickens to be beautiful. Like snowflakes, each one is just slightly different enough from the others to make it an individual within the flock. (even our twins Simon and Garfunkel are distinguishable from each other – Simon has an extra little toe and Garfunkel’s top hat lies a little flatter than Simon’s.)

Just take a look at the gorgeous patterns on the backs of some of our juveniles. Now remember that all of these guys have the same father (Rocky Road) but you can definitely tell that they have different moms.

First we have this white slightly speckled one.

Here is another white feathered chick, check out the design on this one. The white chicks are the largest of our juveniles and one guess is that their mom is probably one of the ISAs (a type of chicken that is bred for hardy egg production.) Continue reading

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Lesson 384 – oh my, how you’ve grown

In the “my, how the little ones have grown department” I’m going to show you before and after photos of one of our “newborn” chicks.

This one is clearly the largest of the batch and although I’m not 100% sure, I have suspicions that she is really a rooster just waiting to break out in song. Not only is she large in size but she has humungous, dark yellow feet and while one of my sisters also has very large feet, in a chicken, this is usually not a good sign with regard to hen-domness.

Here is she at just a few weeks old when we let them play in the pen for a bit. By the way, we do have grass in our yard but the chickens have stripped the pen clean of any type of vegetative growth. It’s amazing to think that before we had chickens, we used to have to mow inside the dog pen. Continue reading

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Lesson 381 – Members of our photogenic flock

Recently a friend of mine, Em (the very same one who gave me the Geeky gal chicken) came to visit so that she could take some photos of our chickens. She spent about an hour communing with the birds out back and ended up taking some amazing shots of our girls.

Photo Credit: Emily Bersin

This is Jerry – yeah I know, she’s a girl with a boy’s name but she was also part of a pair named (of course) Tom and Jerry. Tom turned out to be a rooster who got re-farmed (Sunday Dinner) leaving us with this our lone Light Brahma.

Jerry wears the most amazing black feathered cloak that is truly worthy of any Harry Potter story. She’s a cautious but gentle bird who prefers to situate herself neither in the front nor in the back of the flock but instead right in the middle where she can scratch and reflectively peck with no one bothering her. Continue reading

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Lesson 379 – Chickens in the rain

We have a good old fashioned summer rainy day in New Hampshire. It’s the perfect day to send the kids to the laundr0mat with all the dogs’ bedding and for putting children in bathing suits to play outside. This afternoon I’ll be making a large pot of chili and after that I’m looking forward to starting a new book.

I love rainy days, they give you a chance to sit back and exhale. There’s nothing that can be done about the lawn today, can’t really scrub any floors because they won’t dry, so you might as well kick back and do some organizing and play a board game or two.

Chickens, however, are not so keen on rainy days. It disrupts their daily rhythm, they can’t quite get a handle on whether they are supposed to be in or out.

Although it sounds like the beginning of a good joke: Here is the answer to “What does a chicken do in the rain?” Continue reading

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Lesson 371 – Can’t we all just get along?

Honestly, taking care of a flock of young chickens is like, well, taking care of a flock of young children.

The screeching, the bickering, the pecking – oh please!, can’t we all just get along?

Back of Morgane's neck

This is one of our more mature birds: Morgane (pronounced “more-gone” – she’s a french breed). For whatever reason, the other members of the flock are now pecking her on the neck. She’s been a member of the flock now for two years and I have no idea why her sisters would suddenly turn on her unless of course, it’s the stress of having all those young ones underfoot. Can’t say that I blame them, having young ones constantly under my feet (can you say summer?) causes even me to henpeck at times. Continue reading

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Lesson 370 – The chicks’ first night in the coop

I’m pretty big on letting your chicks try to fly when the time is ready (have I mentioned that Trevor is away at gymnastics camp for 3 weeks?) Which is why when I saw that the chicks had actually survived the day in the henhouse with the larger hens, I figured, hey, why not let them start roosting in the big house.

I also decided to do this because there is very little activity in a henhouse after the sun goes down. Once a chicken is up on a roost, it tends to stay there for the rest of the night (it’s kind of a survival thing), there is no running around and pecking new little ones when darkness comes. The more the chicks stayed in the chicken coop, they more they would be acknowledged as members of the flock. I figured a night in the henhouse would do everyone a world of good (including the fact that we no longer would have to bring the STINKY nursery back into the house.)

I also wasn’t too worried about the chicks keeping warm at night (we were having slightly cool night- time temps but nothing drastic). Baby chicks sleep like baby puppies – in a pile, one big feathered mess ‘o bird. Continue reading

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Lesson 369 – WWTCD?

It was a beautiful weekend here in New Hampshire. The sun was out but we didn’t have the killer heat we’ve had on previous weekends. It was a good weekend to test the chicken-henhouse waters with the babies.

As you know, all babies grow and chicks in particular grow very quickly. (The meat you are eating from the grocery store is most probably from a bird that was only a few months old.) Our birds had outgrown the first nursery we had set up for them. That meant that we needed to find a bigger deeper tub in which to house them.

We found an old one under the henhouse, filled it with wood chips and transferred the babies into their new home (still located in our mudroom which is right off the foyer.) But guess what? with a deeper tub comes less air circulation and with less air calculation comes some pretty impressive STANK.

I kept thinking WWTCD? (What would the colonialists do?) I mean I don’t think they kept baby birds in their little log cabins for weeks at a time right? They had barns and all chicks were born and raised outdoors. I’m pretty sure the colonists didn’t hang baby toys around the chick nursery (yup, guilty.) All but one of our chicks at 3 weeks old were almost completely feathered (just a little bit of down around the necks left). Alkaia – the littlest – did not have her full feathers but I would always find her under the pile when they all slept so I was sure she could keep herself warm if a cool breeze3 came up. Continue reading

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