Tuesday, March 22, 2011

new chicks

S, age 3-ish, with a newly hatched chick
We haven't had new chicks in a long while. The last batch we got, 3 years ago, came during a distracted period in our house; and we relied on a good friend to start them for us. Previous to that, we'd had a fairly steady combination of new chicks hatched here and hens we adopted from people who had given up chicken keeping for one reason or another.

This year, Jake of Tour de Cluck put me in contact with some people who were organizing a chick purchasing co-op. The minimum order from most hatcheries is 25 chicks. Our city has a limit of 6 hens per household, so combining orders is a way to get a specific mix of breeds in smaller numbers.

The chicks arrived yesterday morning with feathers beginning to show at their wingtips—if memory serves, that would put them at 3-4 days old.
a little Rhode Island Red
We brought them home to our set up consisting of an old rabbit cage, a heat lamp, a chick waterer and feeding tray. They are on the workbench near a window so sunlight can reach them during the day.
A blanket adds insulation, and hay makes a nice floor and bedding material. For the first few days, we want to keep the chick environment at around 90 degrees. We'll gradually lower that, as their feathers come in, by raising the heat lamp and pulling away the blanket.
Here are the chicks:
To the left is a Buff Orpington. In front of her, a Silver Laced Wyandotte. Right in the center, facing left, is an Ameraucana (a mutt which has the dominant trait of laying blue-green eggs). And just to her right, a little toward the rear, is the Rhode Island Red. Another Wyandotte is front right, and another Buff is at the right edge of the picture. The black one in back is a Barred Plymouth Rock.

S, now much older than he was in the top photo but still a softie when it comes to baby animals, picked out a fluffy Buff Orpington.
This breed is my favorite, as well. They tend to be gentle and easy going, lay large brown eggs, and are themselves plump and hardy.

Ameraucanas, by comparison, despite laying those beautiful green eggs, are usually skittish birds who only lay well for the first year or so.

But I can't resist a pastel green egg, and C asked specifically for more Ameraucanas this year.

The breed that is new to me is the Wyandotte. I've always loved their feather patterns and decided to take advantage of the purchasing co-op to get a few. I'll try to post pictures here as the feathers grow in.


  1. New chicks!
    Pretty babies!
    I hope your Ameraucana is as sweet as ours was... Gracie was my dear, and she would fall asleep on my lap... she loved to have her neck stroked, she came whenever we called her. And those blue-green eggs are a lovely sight!

  2. Thanks! Natalie, Gracie sounds like a really special hen. We've never had a hen who was that attached--well, except one, and that's a story in itself. But for the most part our dogs and cats mean that the hens have to live in the barn. I'll have to read your blog to have the sweeter chicken experiences vicariously. :)

  3. Cute chickies, cuter baby S! Can't wait for blue-green (or "awkward" as XX calls it) eggs.

  4. I really like your blog. I included a link in my new post. http://cheaphomeschool.blogspot.com/

  5. Thank you so much. I'm really happy to learn about your blog, as well--especially seeing that you have homeschooled through high school. Should be inspiring!


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