Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘brooder

TwentyTwo Days

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I’m happy to report that the chicks are all progressing wonderfully in their daily race to maturity. In fact, they are beginning to seem a little crowded in our water-trough brooder.

When I had the cover askew yesterday while cleanng out the waterer for a poop-free version, one of the New Hampshire chicks made a leap for the lip of the water-trough and achieved a perfect pin-point landing. She seemed entirely pleased with herself over the accomplishment.

I didn’t give her a moment to enjoy it, reacting instantly to snatch her in avoidance of further escapades. The two New Hampshire chicks appear to be the boldest and bossiest of the twelve, although the others will all push back when getting picked (pecked) on.

The one Barnevelder chick that was lagging in development continues to hold her own against all the others who take every opportunity to make sure she knows she is at the bottom of the pecking order. I figured she would remain half their size as they weren’t going to stop growing to allow her to catch up, but it is getting harder to instantly spot her among the brood of active chicks.

It is normal for chickens to always want what another bird has picked up in its beak but the littlest chick didn’t shy away once last night when a rival repeatedly pecked at the very spot where the first one was eating. In fact, she even alternated to pecking one slot closer toward the rival in a perfect tit-for-tat response.

“You take one of mine, I’ll take one of yours.”

I’m gaining confidence that she will do just fine as they all grow into the phase of full feathered “pullets” in a few more weeks.

I sure hope I have the coop subdivision completed by then. (Maybe I should actually start on that project.) The three adult hens are about to lose some square footage and will soon have to deal with a dozen rambunctious new neighbors.

I’m sure they will be just thrilled about it.

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Written by johnwhays

August 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

Counted Wrong

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I thought Cyndie had counted the chicks when they first arrived and she thought I had. Somehow, we had it in both our minds that we had received 14 chicks. Yesterday, while Cyndie was cleaning the brooder she commented that the chicks had grown so active, she needed to count to make sure one of them didn’t get rolled up in the paper she was removing.

Since one chick had died the first day, we were under the impression there were 13 chicks remaining. As she rolled up the paper, I counted chicks.

“1, 2, 3, …8, …12.”

“What!”

“I count twelve.”

Poor Cyndie. She became very stressed over a concern she might have rolled up a chick. I couldn’t imagine a way we would have unknowingly lost another chick, so I said we should go back and review our pictures to confirm the original count.

Sure enough, we had gotten the count wrong from the very start.

Oops.

We have twelve chicks, one of which continues to lag significantly in her development.

That’s 12, …with photographic proof.

But who’s counting?

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Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2020 at 6:00 am

Eleven Days

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Check out this video clip from yesterday and see if you can detect the change of a few days’ growth:

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In the background of the audio of that clip, you can hear one of the three remaining adult hens making a racket, probably announcing she laid an egg or seeking to reconnect with the other two after having just done so.

The one Barnevelder chick who was lagging in growth has been receiving special support from Cyndie in hopes of boosting it over the hump of disadvantage it would otherwise face. Simply providing extra hydration quickly results in more energy and more interest in eating. We are happy whenever we see evidence the little one chooses to eat on her own or pushes back at others as often as they push her away.

As long as she keeps improving, we’ll keep giving her support to help her along.

When she settles down to nap, which they still all do with relative frequency, others snuggle up with her nicely until some doofus walks all over everyone and wakes the whole bunch. I snapped the photo above because they were all laying together with heads down, but just my motion to move in for the snapshot caused them to pick up their heads again.

They are doing a lot more flapping of wings and jumping up on things.

I’m almost ready to stop calling them chicks.

They’re becoming little “henlets.”

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Written by johnwhays

July 26, 2020 at 10:09 am

Insufferable Excess

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I know that I’m not a big fan of seeing countless photos of other peoples’ pets/babies/hobbies day after day so I fully understand if you groan and skim the all-too-many shots of cute fluffy chicks that will likely show up for the next few days. After that time, the pictures will reveal feathered baby birds, so at least that will be a noticeable change.

Already, the wing feathers are developing and our feathery-footed Light Brahmas are showing the beginnings of their foot coverings.

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Not unexpectedly, the chick in the most precarious condition upon arrival ended up not surviving the first day, despite the special attention we gave her. By late Saturday afternoon, we found a second chick showing signs of trouble and began steps to nurse her along, including protecting her from abuse others were dishing out as she began to falter.

The best sign we were successful, beyond the fact she was still alive yesterday morning, was when she proved equal to all the others in terms of not playing a victim and confidently pushing others out of her way when she moved about.

It is comical to watch how consistently they do two things at this age:

  • Fall asleep in a split second wherever they are, be it at the feeder, in the middle of the action, or all by themselves in the distance.
  • Step on each other constantly, particularly when others are down for a nap.

This is probably the reason and the necessity of their gift of being able to “micro-nap” many times throughout a day. They won’t be down very long before another comes along and walks all over them.

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Our first reaction when checking on them is to fear one or more may have expired when we find them conked out in a variety of unlikely places. It’s a good thing these naps don’t last very long. Already, when they hear our voices, they perk up and start moving about with excited energy.

One endearing maneuver they employ at this age is a leg stretch where they stop and push one foot out behind them as far as it will go. It’s as if we can see them grow a fraction bigger every time they do it.

Makes me hope they are stretching each leg equally. It’s not always obvious that they do.

This is the third year we have purchased a batch of chicks, and due to the limited availability caused by demand during the pandemic, it is the latest in the year we have been trying to care for such young chicks. Keeping the temperature in the brood at the constant desired level has been a challenge.

In early spring, we just put the heat lamp on and the chicks huddle under it when they want more warmth or wander away to cool down. Now, with the barn heating up in the daytime sun, we have to be careful it doesn’t get too hot in there. It is a little too cool with the warming lamp off and gets too hot if we leave it on.

We have to check on them frequently and cycle the lamp accordingly.

So, you get excessive amounts of photos of our chicks for a few days and we have to deal with insufferable excesses of heat.

We all have our burdens, don’t we?

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Written by johnwhays

July 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

More Chicks

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New chicks arrived this morning!

 

It was a two-day trip to get here through the U.S. Mail and all but one appeared to be in perfect shape. The lone weakling initially appeared as one who didn’t survive the trip but she did eventually take a drink and stand up on very wobbly legs. We are hoping for the best that she will gain strength to keep up with the rest of the rambunctious brood.

Because our previous familiar breeds were not available at the time Cyndie placed the order, she went with four that are completely new to us:

New Hampshire, Dominique, Barnevelder, & Light Brahma.

Here we go again! Despite the current battle with a fox that has boldly made a daytime attack on our 3 adult hens.

Sometimes heartfelt decisions defy logic in favor of hope.

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Let’s Move

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When they started out in the brooder five weeks ago, our chicks had plenty of room. They are now getting a little testy with each other over their lack of space.

It’s time to move to the coop.

We probably would have already moved them, except it’s been so cold and snowy.

Now we are expecting a run of warmer weather and they are going to be movin’ on up.

You can see in the photo that they are sprouting enough feathers to reveal their eventual colors. The Golden Laced Wyandottes are showing that golden lacing nicely. They all have a long way to go before maturing into their wattles and combs.

By that time, we will need to have decided whether to let them roam free or keep them confined to protect them from predators. For a while there we felt okay with last year’s experiment, but with the rash of springtime attacks polishing off the last of that brood, it doesn’t feel quite right to not try something different.

We’ll move on that decision when they start to out-grow the coop in a month or two.

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Written by johnwhays

April 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

New Chicks

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I am happy to report that all chicks arrived safe and healthy, traveling in a box through the US Postal network in freezing temperatures. I am fascinated that this process works, given the despicable condition of a few other packages we have received over the years. Live chicks sent through the mail is a marvel.

Last year when our chicks arrived, I wasn’t around. Yesterday, Cyndie let me get in on the excitement of picking them up out of the shipping box and dipping beaks in the water to get the chicks drinking.

The birds come with a 48-hour guarantee of good health, plus, we received one extra of each of the three breeds. We figure, given their guarantee, it’s cheap for breeders to provide an extra, in advance, to avoid the expense and risk of shipping out a replacement should there be any infant mortality.

As of last night, they all looked to be doing just fine.

That’s not always easy to determine. Chick naps seem to happen at all times, in the middle of any activity. It looks like sleep just sneaks up and swallows them. When they lay down, it often looks like they must be dead, sprawled out with legs askew. Then another chick will stumble over them and the sleepy bird will pick up its head and look around. Sometimes they get up and get back in the action, sometimes they try going right back to sleep.

They will fall asleep while eating, or in the middle of all the other chicks that are flitting about, chirping. Occasionally, one will look like it might drown, getting snoozy head-first in the waterer.

We are happy with our healthy start, and are hoping for more of the same for the duration of time they are in the brooder, and beyond.

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Written by johnwhays

March 17, 2018 at 6:00 am

Brilliant Chickens

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Our chicks are growing up almost as fast as the days of the week that fly by in a blink. Ever since that first day when Cyndie taught them how to find a drink of water in our brooder, they have piled on one new accomplishment after another. Sometimes it is a result of them copying each other, and sometimes it is through our gentle instruction.

In order to raise them to be comfortable with our presence and willing to have us handle them, we spent some extended time picking them up and whispering sweet nothings in their direction yesterday. Cyndie spent much of that visit searching for unique markings that will help identify individuals for naming purposes.

I think we should get to know their personalities better, so they can show us what names they deserve. My idea for using favorite chicken recipes was summarily denied, but I still may succeed in getting one of the yellow ones named Parmesan.

We think that the classical music we have on all night long for them is working well to feed their rapidly growing brains with intricacies and emotional depth. They have demonstrated such quick ability to grasp everything we introduce that we are confident we have the makings of brilliance in this flock.

It’s almost like they knew to perch on that stick I put in the brooder before I even finished setting it in place. Now I am working on finding just the right gnarly branches from our brush piles that I can use to carve little chess pieces. With 10 chicks, I’m debating with myself over the need for more than one board. They obviously learn well enough by observing each other, I think they can get the game down by watching a match played by their brood-mates.

Cyndie is busy creating flash cards with images of ticks, flies, and bugs, as well as piles of manure to be scratched apart in a “green means go” motif. The back sides will have a red theme and include threats like the hawks and eagles overhead, fox, raccoon, coyote, the neighbor’s dogs, and yes, even Delilah.

Our chickens are going to be brilliant.

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Written by johnwhays

April 1, 2017 at 9:09 am

Tail Feathers

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Our chicks were born a week ago yesterday, shipped a week ago today, and arrived to us a week ago tomorrow. In this past week we have gone from knowing nothing about chickens to understanding and nurturing these ten to a successful adjustment where they are thriving in the new home we have provided.

Considering that I was unsure they would all survive the first night with us, we have come a long way in a very short time. During a long visit with the brood last evening, I came to see how each day’s success will make it that much harder to accept that first unfortunate occasion when we lose one (or more) of them to a predator. The longer time we have to connect with them, the greater the loss a death will be.

While Sunday we caught a few first glimpses of what surely must be the beginnings of tail feathers, a day later the new feathers were hard to miss.

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We added a tempting perch in the form of a small branch across the big trough, to give them something to aim for in their rapid transformation into able-bodied chickens.

My new goal is to figure out how to convince Delilah that she must protect these birds from all threats, foreign and domestic, so any predators that find themselves attracted to our turf by the presence of chickens will be dissuaded by the large white teeth of our four-footed shepherd.

I hope she never figures out that these beautiful birds called chickens are the same as the stuff that comes out of the cans of dog food she gets served. We want our birds to keep their tail feathers.

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Written by johnwhays

March 28, 2017 at 6:00 am

Growing Fast

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Kids grow up so fast, don’t they? Our new babies are almost to the point where we can’t call them new any more. Born on Monday, they are four days old today and have made it through a couple of nights in our barn. Last night, they shared it with the horses, as Cyndie decided to bring the herd in out of the rain.

I got to see the new game of Queen-of-the-Brood they developed after one of them discovered the little ledge available within leaping range. They seem a little too polite about taking turns for it to be a serious competition.

I hope they are starting their training early for how they are going to leap to the roof of the coop if Delilah ever gets loose in the summer months ahead.

Cyndie spent yesterday working on her technique for treating pasty butt syndrome. Since we seem to be violating a few preventative guidelines, like getting our chicks through the mail and using the heat lamp which doesn’t control temperature precisely, it is not surprising that several of our chicks are having issues.

One of the noticeable signs of growth is the rapid appearance of definition in their wings. They’ll need good strong wings to bat Delilah in the face when she tries to get too close.

Actually, the hound is behaving pretty well around them. I don’t think it took her any time at all to recognize that these are creatures that Cyndie is caring for. I expect she will quickly come to realize they are family.

Of course, that won’t save them from her wrath. The horses have been family for a few years, and she still hollers at them like they were outsiders. The other day, Cyndie and I were tending to business in the paddock while Delilah was leashed outside the gate near the hay shed. Cyndie had just stepped in with a couple of bales of hay in the wheelbarrow and Hunter took a sudden interest.

As he purposefully walked toward Cyndie and those bales, Delilah picked up on the energy and immediately responded with a frenetic spurt of her alarm bark. She was definitely trying to back Hunter off and protect Cyndie from a potential threat.

Makes me wish the dog would have grown up and shown more respect for our wishes in as quick a manner as the growth the chickens have sported in just these last two days.

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Written by johnwhays

March 24, 2017 at 6:00 am