Thursday, March 15, 2012

Chicks! (Finally)

This chicken keeping business has been a series of misadventures and I've only had chicks in my possession for 24 hours!

You might remember that my order of chickens was scheduled to arrive between March 6-8. Despite the shipping notice I received from Meyer Hatchery on March 6th, they never shipped my birds. A couple of phone calls and an angry message or two later, they finally admitted their mistake and agreed to ship my birds the following week.

The next week came and I got a phone call early Monday morning from Meyer. They were packing my order for shipment but two of the breeds I ordered were not available (Silver Laced Wyandotte and Columbian Wyandotte). They offered me a list of breeds as substitutes - which would I prefer? None of the breeds they offered were on my list of breeds of survival chickens. I hadn't researched any of them. I probably should have just taken a refund for those chicks, but I randomly chose two interesting sounding breeds: Silver Lakenvelder and Salmon Faverolle. They sounded exotic and expensive, just like myself. Ha ha.

After I got off the phone, I was able to take a look at the catalog and learn about the breeds I had chosen. The Salmon Faverolle should be OK, but the Silver Lakenvelder isn't a breed I would have chosen if I had been given more time to think about it. Oh well.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. The post office called just after 6 AM to inform me that my chickens had arrived. I hurried into town, grabbed the very loudly peeping box, and headed back home.

When we opened the box, this is the sight that greeted us.

Chicks huddle together when they are cold

Aw, the poor little things were so cold! I gently took each chick out individually and introduced them to their new home.

Dip each chick's beak in the water as you put them in the brooder

It is really important that the chicks learn where the water is when they enter the brooder. I dipped each one's beak in the water and watched them swallow before putting them under the heat lamp. The marbles in the water dish are a bit of insurance that the wee beasties won't drown.

Home sweet home

It wasn't long before the whole crew was exploring their new home. But wait a second. Count the chicks.

There are only 16 chicks here. I ordered 17. Yep, Meyer Hatchery shorted me a chick. Needless to say, they have permanently lost my business. That's really too bad because they are one of the few hatcheries that require only three chicks as their minimum order. All but one of the chicks arrived very healthy.

Do you see the chick in the lower right corner of the above photo with the dark thing on its rear? That is the remains of its umbilical cord. It is not unusual for chicks to have a bit of the umbilical cord remaining, but this is a very large umbilical stump. A couple of hours later, this chick was lying motionless on the floor of the brooder. The other chicks piled on top off her and picked at her sore bottom. We had noticed before that she was smaller than the other chicks and her posture was a bit different than theirs. She seemed weak and fragile. By this point, we thought that she was a goner for sure. I started thinking through the elements of the funeral service that my children would surely demand. "Dearly beloved, we gather here today to lay Runt to rest...."

Hubby Dear, however, can apparently doctor chickens as well as he can humans. He separated Runt from the rest of the flock and managed to get her to eat a bit of scrambled egg (it sounds wrong, but it is a good food for chicks). He stayed up late last night working on his NCAA tournament brackets and by the time he finally came to bed, she was back up and running around again.

Several of the chicks have experienced pasty butt. When chicks are stressed or cold, their droppings can accumulate over their vent. If you don't remove the droppings, it will actually seal their vent shut and kill the chicks. A gentle wipe with a warm, wet washcloth takes care of the problem.

Now the chicks run when they see me coming because they know I'm going to pick them up and look at their butts.

The chick with the feathered legs and toes is the Salmon Faverolle. 

Their feathers are already starting to come in. They won't be babies for very long, so we're enjoying this stage while it lasts. Come August, these girls will hopefully be laying oodles of eggs. 


  1. So happy for you!!!! One of the best things we ever did was get chickens. So cute, first of all, and great for my son to watch grow from little ones to laying hens. We get tons of eggs that are great for baking and selling.
    It sounds like you are off to a great start (sorry about the pasty butt thing. Isn't that gross??!!) and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do ours.

  2. I would like chicks but I have to see my subdivisions rules first. They look cute good luck on raising them. we had 14 chicks and 14 ducks when I was younger.