Early Sunday morning the post office called me and told me our chicks had arrived. Yup, you read that right. I did say Sunday. I’ve never gotten mail on a Sunday before. So Lee and I sprinted out of bed and rushed over to the post office. While we were waiting, we could hear little chicks scream peeping through the post office walls.
We drove carefully home with the heater going full blast hoping to warm the little guys up. They didn’t care and continued their scream peeping.
Only thing is, we weren’t prepared at all for the chicks. Yeah, I knew they were supposed to come sometime this week. Technically McMurray did list Sunday in the range of dates they might come, but who thinks of mail on a Sunday? So while the chicks were waiting in their box, we erected a high walled cardboard box pen on top of some scaffolding (so our cats couldn’t James Bond their way in). I got the chick feeders bleached out and ready. We searched like crazy until we found the chick heater light. I scrounged up some paper to line the chick pen floor and TaDa…we were in business.
My Hand Of Terror started the process of dipping their beaks into the water before they were released to roam their new fancy box home.
“Whoa! What just happened to me?”
All of the chicks figured out the water and chick feed pretty fast but we soon discovered three problems. One chick had a little bloody scrape by its beak that the others would peck, our scratch corn was mostly too large, and they wouldn’t stop scream peeping. That is when we realized the light we had wasn’t a red heat light. Two years ago when we had our first batch of chicks their 250W infrared light burned out before it should have and we brought it back to the store and exchanged it for a 125W white heat light. It didn’t put out as much heat, but it didn’t matter as those chicks were older at the time. Getting a red heat light would solve the chick pecking problems too. So off we rushed to the only farm store still open.
Once we got the new heat light screwed in it was amazing how fast they all settled in.
On Monday we went to our local farm store and got some chick corn. We had wanted to feed only corn for the first two days, as Plamondon recommends it to help avoid paste butt problems. Since our chicks only had chick starter and their journey was a little rough we ended up getting quite a bit of pasty bottoms on them. The problem has mostly resolved itself by now but a couple of the chicks view my hand as The Hand Of Doom And Butt Rubbing Agony.
Yesterday as we were watching all the chicks do their chick business we both were thinking, “Oh my goodness, what did we do!” There are just so many of them. I’ve counted multiple times and I keep coming up with 27 chicks. I think we were given two free chicks by the hatchery. Either that or I can’t count. If there are no fatalities we are going to have 36 chickens on our place. EEEEEKS!
Most of the chicks we got were straight runs, so we are finally going to have some roosters on our place. What this means is we are going to have to cull some of our old hens and some of the new roosters when they get older. That should be an interesting experience when the time comes.
So…what breeds did I get and why? I decided to go for some smaller breeds this time. Our original chickens are of the egg and meat homestead combo sort. It seemed like a good choice at the time. The thing is, we never ate any of our chickens. We have been using them for their eggs only. Since bigger chickens eat more it would make sense for us to get smaller chickens as they will cost us less in feed. I also wanted chickens that could forage well. So I ended up getting 14 Lakenvelders.
Since the Lakenvelders lay white eggs (and white eggs are boring) I got 8 Araucanas. They aren’t as small as the Lakenvelders, but they are lighter then our current fatty pants Barred Rocks.
Just for fun (I couldn’t help myself) I got two female Golden Polish chicks. They are light in weight, but unfortunately they also lay boring white eggs. They are going to have big poofy bouffant heads and aren’t really foragers (probably because they can’t see anything).
I didn’t want the two Golden Polish chickens to get lonely so I got one female Partridge Cochin. The Cochin is meant to be my setter for the other birds as they are all basically non-setters. She will lay brown eggs.