It’s been forever since I last posted, but I wanted to give a more thorough overview on my new world with chickens! So, I’m creating a couple instalments on what I’ve experienced and learned so far.
My chicks arrived to my local feed store on April 24, at one day old. I ordered them from a hatchery in my province and they're essentially the ISA brown breed. This means they're a cross breed of the Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island white breeds. They're colour sexable as chicks, so the females are brown and the males are yellow. I ordered 10 females - no rooster. These chickens are bred as egg layers and aren't meat birds. Fortunately for them, I would never eat them anyways!
I picked up my chicks as soon as I was allowed to make sure I could get them home, fed and watered ASAP! I coordinated this with the feed store.
I was overcome by cuteness when the girl opened the box to show me that they were indeed alive and well. They were soooo cute!
I brought my 10 tiny fluff balls home, cheeping in their box in the backseat, promising them I would take good care of them and that they would be safe and spoiled! My hubby is witness to this!
That first day I really didn't do much with them. As I mentioned in my previous post, they were obviously really stressed out and were actually pecking each other quite a bit! I was a little worried. Thankfully I had an EcoGlow brooder (more on that below), so I could keep their space dim and quiet to help them relax. It worked beautifully. Others than checking on them consistently I pretty much left them alone for the first two days. I also provided an anti-stress powder in their water (from the feed store), which I think helped as well.
I'm used to nervous little creatures (aka Daisy), so I'm always trying to make things as comfortable as possible.
Overall things I've learned so far:
1. They are super friendly!
I was so amazed at how friendly and curious they were when I first got them. After being hatched in a hatchery, minimal contact, boxed and driven to the feed store, then picked up and driven home, you'd swear they'd had the best experience with people. They chased my hand as I cleaned their brooder, and weren't the least bit spooked as I sat and hovered over to watch them.
2. The EcoGlow is in a word, amazing!
I bought mine online for around $60 (like this one), and it was the best investment I made. It's essentially a hot plate that the chicks go underneath when they need warmed up. It helps them regulate their body temperature better (they're not forced under a too-hot or too-cold lamp), uses less energy than a heat lamp, and is not a fire threat like heat lamps. This was very important to me, as we both work full time and aren’t home for a good portion of the day. It also lets chicks experience day and night without a lamp blaring in their faces 24/7.
3. They slept without making a peep (literally!) all night.
I really thought I'd be woken up and planned for some sleepless nights while we had them in their box in the house. With the EcoGlow, they got all of the natural rhythms of day and night. Once it got dark, they were out for the count... all night! When the morning light appeared, I'd be woken up to cute little content chirps. What a nice way to start the day!
4. Homemade feeders are the way to go.
No need for expensive store bought feeders. As I mentioned in the last post as well, take a coffee container, drill some holes in it and fill with feed for a no-waste feeder. I found everything I needed from here!
5. They grow fast! Like, freakishly fast!
They got big very very quickly, so by the time they were two weeks old I moved them to their big brooder in our workshop so they had way more space to run around and stretch their tiny but growing wings. The room was perfect. Between their EcoGlow plugged in and an already existing baseboard heater for cold nights, they were totally comfortable. (Big brooder construction details to come!)
6. They’re hard to tell apart so it's hard to name them.
There are little features between them, but because they change soooo fast - like daily - I can't keep tabs on who's who! Oh well... as time goes on and they grow it'll be easier to tell them apart. I've got some names up my sleeve for when I know who's who!
They're definitely the most unique, quirky, spunky, sweet little creatures I have ever experienced! I feel so privileged and thankful to have them in my life.