They Grow Up So Quickly

Our chicks are getting bigger and braver every day – they are so cute and interesting to watch. Young chicken politics are almost as fascinating as ours, with pecking order being established, allies being made, and young roosters eying each other with a bit of suspicion.

Our seven oldest chickens (who could start laying eggs any time now!) didn’t start to have regular access to the outdoors until March – when they were already almost two months old. As a result, they are pretty shy about going outside without encouragement. The hens are better about it than our rooster – he rarely steps foot outside, but apparently still feels some sense of obligation to his duties, because he frequently sticks his head out of the door to scan for predators and gives a hearty crow here and there. I did task him with protecting Handi-Hen when we reintroduced her to the flock, so perhaps I am to blame – she only infrequently goes outside on her own; he tends to be found at her side. I am anthropomorphizing here, but it is funny how that has worked out.

Our younger chickens, however, have been given access to the outdoors at around one month of age, starting about ten days ago. Those little birds are loving it, too. They are learning to forage at a younger age than our original birds, and we are really pleased about that – the more they forage, the less store-bought crumbles they need to consume, and the wider variety of food means more nutrition, resulting in better eggs! Here are some of them in action, mostly some of our ISA Brown chicks, and Silver Laced Wyandottes.

We installed the door on the new coop building last night, after having completed the concrete patching the evening prior. All systems are go for us to get the remaining work done and the youngest chicks moved in this weekend. Our older chickens will have to remain in the old coop for now; they are on layer ration crumbles, which the younger chicks cannot eat right now. Layer ration contains the correct balance of nutrients for the egg-laying phase of life, and can actually damage the systems of younger chicks. So, we will need to install a couple of nest boxes in the old coop for those chickens. Once the rest of the flock is on layer ration, we will sneak in the older chickens to the bigger coop building one night. That’s an interesting part of chicken politics, too: if new members arrive in the darkness of night, they are (usually) simply accepted into the flock the next morning.

The other day, I found a little ISA Brown chick that had wandered away from the chicken yard and over toward a mulch pile near our garden. She seemed lost, so I picked her up, and she came along on my walk with the goats. She seemed pretty content:

In fact, when I brought her back to the coop yard, she was reluctant to leave me:

The ISA Browns have been pretty social, sweet little hens so far. I find watching them scratching at the ground in search of goodies so amusing – The Chicken Channel is one of the best you can tune into. 🙂

I can’t be certain just yet, but I am pretty sure that we have a Bantam Mille Fleur rooster, and despite their having been categorized as strictly pullets, I’m pretty sure we also have an ISA Brown and a Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster, too (it happens, chicken sexing is not 100%). I’m actually really pleased about it, because with the size of our flock (around 100 birds) we will need more than one rooster to keep an eye out for predators, and to warn the hens when those arrive. I’m hoping our stick-his-head-out-the-door rooster will get bored with being inside and start venturing out more, but he’s going to need all the help he can get, either way!

It’s raining today, and tomorrow, thunderstorms are predicted for the afternoon, but Sunday is supposed to be sunny and gorgeous, with temperatures in the 80’s. We’ll get whatever we can accomplished tomorrow before the storms hit, and I’m hoping that by Sunday night, I’ll be showing you photos of the new residents of the Poultry Palace.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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