Growing Chicks

Here they are…1 week old

These photos are taken a few days after they arrived fresh from the feed store. (Thanks, Marty.) I’m a nervous mom…checking them every few hours and obsessively counting them. Oso’s lost his doggie door privileges, and he is ultra-curious about the chicks. He heads out with me to check on them, and I’m totally failing at trying to train him NOT to want to eat them. Given his history…I think I’m just going to wait until they are absolutely too big to get eaten before he has any unsupervised contact with the coop. If anyone can dig a hole into a chicken coop, it’s Oso. 

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The two black chicks are Barred Rocks. The Redish ones are Rhode Island Reds, and the other two (kind of speckled) are Americaunas. (Those two will lay blue eggs.)


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And 3 weeks old

The girls are now coming out of the coop to play in the open. I’ve fashioned a sort-of fence so they don’t get lost though when they fly out, they usually come right back. They are full of fuzzy feathers and starting to take on personalities. There’s no clear pecking order yet, but Ascension is emerging as the most adventurous of the group. (She was the first to check out the feed, the first to get picked up, the first to climb up the ramp. Her boldness made it easy to pick her up and to photograph her, lest you think I’ve claimed a favorite already. 


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Inside the coop

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Lafourche


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Evangeline–at 3 weeks she started turning much more white than her speckled sister Calcasieu


100_0595The holy mysteries: Assumption and Ascension.I can’t quite tell them apart yet since their colors change so rapidly. They are going from black birds with white spots to tiny black and white stripes. 


5 weeks

The girls still aren’t roosting, and I’m worried. A bird’s natural nighttime behavior is to perch on a bar (conveniently installed upstairs by me) and sleep in a protected area. To do this, they will have to discover the ramp (only Ascension has even ventured on it) and then actually go upstairs and sit on the roosting bar. Right now, they are huddling together in a corner on the cold ground, which isn’t safe or natural. If they never discover the upstairs, they will never understand where they’re supposed to lay their eggs, and more importantly they’re vulnerable to predators downstairs at night. 

I emailed my friend bob at Catawba Coops and asked him what to do.  He suggested pulling up the ramp, putting food and water up there, and placing the chicks in the roosting area for two or three days. This, he said, would drive home the message: “girls, this is where you live.”

On a particularly cold series of nights, I quarantined the flock upstairs. After three days and three nights of wind and rain, I lowered the ramp and put their feeder back downstairs. Every chick flew down the ramp, hurtling herself at the hole in the floor and landing on the ground in a flurry of feathers and sawdust. All except Ascension. She just walked herself down the ramp, cool as a cucumber. Later that night, I watched her walk back up the ramp, sit up in the roosting area, and call to her girls. She cheeped and cheeped, but no one came up to join her. I’m always up for supporting female leadership, so I snatched up Calcasieu and put her up in the roost with Ascension. I thought more chicks would venture up, but Calcasieu just flung herself down the ramp and then Ascension descended too. Maybe this is going to take longer than I thought. 
100_05941Ascension–always the leader. 


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7 weeks

Three days after the failed roosting attempt, the temperature dropped to the high 30’s and we were in for another cold night. I went outside for my nightly check on the girls. I panicked when I didn’t see anyone in the coop, but then I heard their unmistakable cooing from upstairs. I opened the egg door and there they were! Roosting all by themselves! Go Girls!

 

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Ascension, Assumption, Calcasieu, Vermillion

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