Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘raising chicks

Chicks Grazing

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For your viewing pleasure, hang out with our chicks for a couple of minutes and get a sense of how much fun it is to watch their methods of exploring the courtyard we fenced in this weekend outside their coop door.

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Aah, but they grow up so fast. In no time they will be free-ranging chickens devouring acres of insects.

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Written by johnwhays

June 7, 2021 at 6:00 am

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

Rocky’s Progeny

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The 13 chicks that hatched from eggs fertilized by our late New Hampshire Red rooster, Rocky, have now developed enough features to better guess at which breed their mothers were. The batch we’ve referred to as the “Rockettes” will be subdivided to break out six pullets who will eventually be “Baxterettes,” reflecting a plan to share them with my brother’s family in the Brainerd area of Minnesota.

That surprise rooster we were blessed to receive unexpectedly in a batch of egg-layers we ordered online during the pandemic will have quite a legacy from his cut-way-too-short life.

The twenty-five chicks currently sharing the “twin-home” coop divided in half by a plastic netting are all doing well during this span of time when they are confined to quarters. We are currently working to prepare the boundaries of two separate courtyards –one front, one in back– where they will be allowed daytime excursions on real dirt with actual green growth to destroy.

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We aren’t sure yet about how many of the 13 Rockettes are roosters in the making, but we are confident it is more than zero. Looking at the images above, we believe we have the following numbers of breeds:

Quantity 6 Barnevelders; two with darker coloring on head and neck (a difference of gender maybe?). One each of these can be seen on the far left and far right of the image on the left.

Quantity 2 Light Brahmas; mostly yellow with white wing feathers and a hint of feathers growing on feet, seen second from left.

Quantity 4 yellow-headed chicks with reddish-brown feathers that look a mix of New Hampshire Red/Barnevelder, third from left.

Quantity 1 Dominique; easily identified for being black head to toe and almost disappears in the image on the right.

Cyndie has reported seeing pairs of the Rockette chicks chest-bumping already but I saw nothing but happy romping siblings in my extended watching yesterday.

We housed the Buffalo Gals on the backside of the coop where the chicken access door is located, but that lacked ventilation in this record-setting hot weather. I rigged a way to temporarily cover the opening with 1/4″ mesh hardware cloth so we could leave the door open during the day.

The high heat will inspire us to hasten preparations to get their courtyards secure so we can let them out into more open air.

The wild pigeons choosing to nest in our barn lost about a half-dozen chicks yesterday that we found sprawled out on the ground in multiple places, so this heat needs to be taken seriously.

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Written by johnwhays

June 5, 2021 at 9:35 am