Baby Chicks Arriving

Last year I let one of my hens set some eggs. A second hen started to set, but quit. That’s the problem with many of today’s hens: They don’t set and hatch baby chicks.

The seven chicks the hen hatched did fine. They grew quickly as the hen shepherded them around in their yard. Five of them grew big combs.

Three roosters argue over who is ruling the hen house already. More roosters aren’t wanted or needed. Hens are welcome.

Baby chicks cage

This arrangement worked fine on a warm day. It failed the chick test: they were cold. The light moved into the cage and blankets went up around the cage. The chicks were happy through a cool night in the forties.

Having new pullets in the fall is nice as they start laying and lay through the winter fairly regularly. Older hens don’t lay regularly over the winter, at least mine don’t. I prefer the heavier breeds, not the egg production breeds.

Eggs were in short supply this last winter.

Older hens lay fewer, but larger eggs. Many of my hens are not just older, but ancient for chickens.

This year I ordered baby chicks. As I don’t plan on dressing any roosters out this year, all the chicks are supposed to be pullets. There will be twenty-two baby chicks.

There is a chick house. It isn’t fancy as I was the carpenter. The last time I used it, the black snakes found a way in. And the roof decided to leak.

baby chicks huddle

The ultimate test of a chick set up is given by the chicks when they arrive. These chicks are huddling. They aren’t real cold, but they are not warm enough. They are not giving distress calls. The light was too far away. Moving it into the cage made the chicks much happier.

The house has new wire up around the eaves. Every hole I could find is plugged. The roof is tarred.

Still, black snakes are wily creatures. They can find holes where I see none. I have a wire cage.

The cage isn’t very big. It is big enough for a couple dozen baby chicks. The holes should be too small for the big snakes to get in. My chicks will start out in it.

happy baby chicks

Happy chicks cheep softly and rummage around getting drinks of water and eating food. Sometimes the entire flock will lie down on the floor to sleep.

Another advantage to using this cage is keeping the chicks warm. This spring has temperatures rivaling a yoyo tournament. Even the best days have stayed in the fifties and sixties, flirting with freezing at night.

So the chick house is set up. The floor is covered with feed sacks for when the chicks get big enough to get out of the cage. The cage is set up with cardboard around it, a heat light over it and supports for blankets at night.

The containers are full of chick starter. The glass waterers are cleaned and ready. The cage floor has layers of newspaper down so one layer at a time can be taken out revealing a clean layer below.

All is ready. And we wait. The baby chicks will arrive in a day or two.

Rural living is different. Livestock is a serious responsibility. Check out Dora’s Story.