I decided to make my cross-town move a little more complicated by adding baby chicks to it. I’m now the proud owner of a black Australorp, a buff Orpington, and an Ameracauna. They’re nearly a month old and have been perching on the side and leaving the brooder on occasion. Luckily they have very effective alarm peeps and we have had no casualties.
They’re sturdy birds; the dog, the baby, and the noises of the move were tolerated well from the start.
I’m feeding them an organic, unmedicated chick feed with grit and occasional scrambled egg treats. I know, feeding them eggs is weird. They go bananas for them and show their true chickeny silliness when it is time for treats.
So far all that has been necessary is to make the brooder, feed and water them. The brooder consists of 1 large plastic tub with high sides (2 feet) around 2.5-3 feet long, and a special red heat lamp with 2 metal arches around the bulb for protection. I filled the bottom with a layer of pine shavings, and bought both a plastic feeder and waterer, to which I attach glass mason jars. I had a flat thermometer stuck on the inner wall of the brooder for the first couple of weeks to monitor the temperature more closely and keep one corner of the brooder between 85 and 90 degrees F.
My first brood box was too small. I upgraded to a larger box with higher sides a little over a week ago, and the birds are happier. I also added 2 bricks to elevate the feeder and waterer, and a couple of sticks in case they liked standing on them. They don’t seem to care. They do like perching on the side and leaving bird droppings outside the box. In the above image you can see the old and new brooders, with my ameracauna perched on the side of the new blue one. I have no need for the thermometer any longer, but I did have a burn/melt spot after a couple of days when the bulb was too close to the plastic. It smelled gross (plasticky) when I walked out there, which tipped me off.
The Australorp seems to be experiencing the pecking order. Her neck feathers are sparse as though she is being picked on.
Next up for the chickies is a coop.