Posts Tagged ‘chicks’

Chick cuisine

It’s getting harder and harder to take pictures of the chicks, because now they peck relentlessly at my fingers, and the camera(!) whenever I try. Here’s the latest picture of the scruffy lot, taken yesterday at 33 days old:


They are very rapidly starting to look like miniature chickens, rather than baby chicks. A few seem to have “all” their feathers, while others still need a while to finish “feathering out”. The current plan is to build their outdoor coop next weekend, so that’s when they’re going out. I should start weaning them off the heatlamp soon in preparation for the big move. Oh, and because the universe is weird that way, it looks like I might be getting a contract to write a short manual on “Building a Chicken Coop” this month, as well.

They are voracious eaters. The 25kg sacks of organic “starter” feed I bought them are holding out well, it looks like the first sack will last 6 weeks, and hopefully the second will last another 4 weeks after that – then I’ll switch them onto regular adult feed, and start supplementing with minerals and grit. A woman I met at the Cornwall Eco-Farm Day event recommended giving them a separate supply of minerals and grit, even if the feed has the minerals mixed in, because if a chicken needs extra minerals, they will eat more feed than they need to get the extra minerals. Of course the ultimate plan is to let them free range and find their own extra minerals and protein in the form of bugs and worms.

For now, they are getting kitchen scraps, which they love, love, love. On the weekend I made a chick pea & potato curry. Since the information I’ve read  and found online is split 50/50 on whether or not chickens can eat raw potato peels, and my chicks are still very young, I figured cooking the potato peels for them wouldn’t hurt. So I peeled the potatoes and sweet potatoes into the two inches of liquid that was left in the bottom of the slow cooker after cooking the chick-peas in it, and let the whole lot simmer for half an hour. Later I let it cool, and added the extra brown rice left over from the curry. I ladled it into the little metal tins that were the bases of their baby feeders, before they graduated to the bigger metal trough, and set it down for them. They went NUTS. Watching a chick grab a piece of potato peel, then run around the enclosure with another chick chasing it – better than TV!

They must have been disappointed yesterday when all they got was a measly single tin of asparagus ends and yellow pepper seeds & innards from my dinner omelet. Oh, and a handful of grass clippings I tossed them while I was trying to mow our horribly overgrown lawn.

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the scythe I ordered to deal with the aforementioned overgrown lawn, and also to keep the field cut around the fruit trees in the orchard. All of which are doing very well, by the way.

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Yesterday I drove to Carrying Place, Prince Edward County, Ontario to pick up my baby chicks. Carrying Place (named for a canoe portage) is just south of Trenton, and so the drive was about 3 hours each way. Since the hatchery was busy putting together shipments all day, Jason (the owner/manager/chicken breeder) asked me to come by at 7pm. So I got home at 11pm last night, with a box full of peeping baby chicks. 

Since I had prepared (mostly) their new home in advance, it didn’t take too long to settle them into their new (temporary) home, a large cardboard box:


They are all healthy and eating and drinking well – as far as I can tell. I peer into the box and see some chicks eating and drinking, but since they’re all pretty much identical, I have to hope that this means they’re all well. I will be checking them several times a day, and making sure that none of them are sitting in a corner looking miserable. Keeping the temperature up in the 30°C – 35°C range that it’s meant to be in for the chick’s first week is proving to be a challenge. When I tested my set-up last Friday the heat lamp was doing a great job, but it now occurs to me that I did the test on a warm afternoon. The heat lamp was struggling to keep the temperature up in the (insulated) garage when it went down to 6°C overnight last night, but the chicks all seem to be doing fine.

They were hatched on Friday, May 1st, so they were three days old when I picked them up, and when these pictures were taken. Yes, they are incredibly cute.


Here is an information page with some good pictures of what the chickens should look like when they’re all grown up. My chicks are the “partridge” coloration, which is a variant of the Chantecler that was developed in Alberta in the 1930s. I chose that variant because I’m hoping to let the chickens free range when they are big enough, and the partridge coloration seems like it would provide the best camouflage.

Jason at the hatchery thoroughly approved of these as a starter flock for a new homesteader. He said the demand for the old-fashioned, dual purpose (eggs and meat), homesteader-friendly heritage breeds was huge this year. He’s sold out of almost everything. 

I feel like we’re “real” homesteaders now. We have Livestock!

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