Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘chick behaviors

Heat Advisory

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With the pressure of multiple days of excessive heat driving our concerns, Cyndie and I put in extra hours yesterday to complete the two separated fenced-in courtyards outside the coop for the two batches of chicks. Late in the afternoon, our chicks were scratching dirt for the first time in their lives.

While we worked, we opened their access doors, allowing them to tentatively investigate the strange new opportunity in their own time.

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I appreciate their caution. Being cautious might protect them from risks they will face when ultimately allowed to free-range our fields and forest.

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Getting the chicks out of the coop and onto the shady ground dropped the temperature of their environment significantly. Keeping their water sources filled requires extra vigilance in the heat as those little beaks drink a surprising amount much quicker than expected.

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In no time, I witnessed insects being hunted and devoured. It’s interesting to watch the instinctual behavior of scratching the ground beneath them and then stepping back to peck at whatever might have been revealed. I saw a little beetle rushing to move from one spot to another and wondered how that might play out. The keen eye of one of the chicks spotted that movement and raced over to scoop it up in one smooth move.

Then the great hunter needed to fend off the immediate attention of several other chicks who desperately wanted what she had.

If ever there was a version of “eat and run,” the competition of other chicks defines the phrase when it comes to finding the perfect morsel.

It won’t take long for those birds to change their limited landscapes from green to nothing but bare ground.

At the rate things seem to be advancing, they will be ranging free in a blink. The next big hurdle will likely be figuring out how and when we can take out the barriers isolating the two age groups. I expect it will come after the point of development where it becomes much more obvious which of the Rockettes are noticeably roosters.

Let’s hope high heat pressure will have taken a welcome break long before that milestone arrives.

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Written by johnwhays

June 6, 2021 at 9:35 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