Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Peepers!

The new chicks have just arrived this morning after their long journey from Hoover Hatchery in Iowa. Of course the weather went from mild to wintry just in time for their hatching so I fretted about how warm they'd be. And of course I'd hoped that they would get here in 1 day but that was a wee bit too optimistic, but got the call this morning at 7:30 that they were at the post. We had done the morning rounds so I was standing by the phone and rushed down. They came in quite a small box which did a good job retaining their heat since all were up and peeping. Now they are ensconced, in large boxes with heat lamps suspended, in the kitchen. The chicks on the left are 25 Black Australorps and those on the right are 25 Barred Rocks - hopefully all females or pullets! I have a dish filled with gravel and water and lids with the crumbles - which is what chick feed is called. Also have a pot of eggs simmering to feed to them. No doubt some may be thinking "Cannibalism!" but remember our eggs aren't viable, wouldn't become chicks and the proteins and yolk are very sustaining. It is the yolk that the chick absorbs right before hatching in fact that sustains her for the first 24-48 hours of life. So more yolk provides fats and the white, proteins. Feeding a mixture of commercial feeds and home foods is something we do alot here for everyone because I don't really know if I can rely on the commercial feeds 100%. When the chicks are a few more days old I'll start giving them greens, grated carrot, chopped fruit as a small part of their feed because that's what they would get if they had hatched here under a Hen. We've had a small clutch from Isabelle, our Banty Hen, every year so I've had a chance to watch her and the little ones forage around. It was quite astonishing how far they'd roam - the little ones scrambling to keep up with Mum. So I've got to be Mum to this group and make sure they know that there's lots of food options - not just one kind shaped in a pellet. The pattern of my life will be popping into the kitchen to top up food dishes, clean water and watching to see how the chicks are congregating under the heat lamps. This is only the second time we've ordered chicks so I'm a fussing Hen!

The chicks will spend the next 2 weeks in the Kitchen keeping warm, dry and out of harm's way; I had thought to keep them in the bathroom but Bob said he wasn't going to wash out of the kitchen sink for 2 weeks. Then we'll move them outside if the weather has moderated, to a wired area under cover - chicks don't survive wet. By the time they're in feather I hope to start selling some of them in small groups to recoup my costs. We'll keep 25 to help bolster our egg laying capacity next year since some of the Americaunas are now 4 years old and slowing down a bit, though the size of the eggs are huge and more than make up for quantity.

So more pictures and reports will be posted as the chicks grow. In the meantime Cheep, Cheep!

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