I wanted to give you guys a complete update on the chickens. To be honest, it all happened so fast! I wasn't thinking that I would need to build the indoor brooder, and then an additional larger brooder so quickly. I knew they'd need to live in the barn, but didn't think they'd outgrow their smaller indoor brooder so quickly!
Alright, I'll slow down and start at the beginning. Last I told you guys, we were at day 18 and waiting patiently for them to hatch. It wasn't until day 21 we actually had our first egg hatch. Then within 36 hours the rest hatched. It's proven that the first chicken to hatch will start to chirp loudly to alert the other chicks, "hey guys, it's time!" and they hatch all very close to each other. It's strategic for their survival rate to hatch almost simultaneously.
We successfully hatched out 16 chickens! We started with 21 eggs and half of them were brown and half were blue/green. The brown ones were all from our ladies, and the colored ones came from a friend of mine. Most of the chickens we have here are a “barn yard mix”, these are multigenerational self-hatched chickens. Hopefully we got some hens from the blue eggs and they’ll lay colorful eggs for us :D
It’s kind of like our genes, how Ben has blue eyes and I have red hair but none of our kids have blue eyes or red hair!
A few of the eggs weren’t fertile (which I could see while candling them at 7-10 days old), and then two just didn’t hatch. It’s actually a pretty good hatch rate considering I didn’t have the fancy self-turning incubator. I was manually turning them and monitoring temp/humidity and had to add water to manipulate it- constantly- lol. In the picture above you can see the sponge. That's how I adjusted the humidity; a higher surface area = more evaporation and higher humidity.
The chicks pictured here are in the first brooder I built for them. I bought the biggest Rubbermaid tote at the store and cut the top out so there was about a 1 foot by 3 foot open space that we covered with chicken wire. Before taking chicks out of the incubator and putting them in here, I had my thermometer in there to monitor temps and make sure it's just right for them before they came out of the incubator.
Two weeks in and we need a whole new set up! Gosh, I really wasn't thinking I'd have to build a new set up so quickly! Lesson learned!!
We built the frame first, and then got out the chicken wire for the outside of the brooder. We used wood that we had on hand, thank goodness! Lumber prices are through the roof right now, so we were happy to be able to upcycle all the wood we needed.
Fun fact: Ben is not the builder in our relationship. He will be the first to tell you that. I consider myself pretty handy around the house. My dad worked in construction his whole life and I spent a lot of time learning from him. Though Ben comes with all of the strength and patience that I lack-- so we make a pretty dang good team!!
We keep this new brooder in the barn right next to the other chickens because they need to be exposed to each other before we put the pullets (teenagers, basically) in with the hens and our rooster. If we just throw them all together there will be bloodshed. Sounds brutal but there isn’t any way to sugar coat it. They’ll establish their pecking order. Who is most dominant, who gets to get the treats first & who has to wait. It's pure instinct in the chickens so by exposing them to each before putting them together, at least it's less severe of a transition.
This brooder shows our chickens at about 3 weeks old. We have two lights in this brooder. The one on the left is a lower watt bulb and the one on the right is the higher watt bulb. By placing them apart from each other and also having one end of the brooder with no heat lamps at all, they can regulate their temperature naturally just by how close/far they are to the heat lamp.
For now, they're doing great! They're still eating chick feed and I'm following the guidelines and not offering treats, though that's hard to do! The big gals & our roo get a scratch mix that we throw on the ground which encourages them to scratch; natural chicken behavior. They also get table scraps everyday. I have a cute little bucket under the sink that we will bring out to them every night. They ALSO get meal worms as treats on occasion. This is all in addition to their normal chicken feed that is free-choice and available all the time in the feeder in the coop. So it's hard to restrain and not give these little ladies & gents treats too!!
Raising chickens is really just something fun we decided to do. I have always wanted chickens but when we lived in town and rented our farm fields, I couldn't have any because we lived in a town with a ordinance against chickens. Last spring when we moved out here, Ben went out and bought me chickens for mother's day, haha! The kids were so excited to bring them home <3 Since then, we've added a few more here and there but I think raising our own from eggs was a super special experience so I wanted to share it with you all.
They're growing SO FAST!
Oh, the chickens too.
Stay well friends,
~The Farmer's Wife