Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Chicks at Two Months Old

The chicks are looking more and more like chickens! They are nine weeks old now and living outside. The transition to outdoor living happened rather quickly. They were wearing out their welcome in the house so we just decided that there was no perfect time to take them out and went for it last weekend.

Chicks Nine Weeks 2

We were cautious parents and tried to show them around their new home, which is a palace compared to their makeshift two-box brooder. It took them awhile to find the ramp going into their coop and the location of the food and water, but they seemed pretty content. They finally ended up huddling up in a corner in the coop and we were happy to see them all still alive the next morning!

Chicken Coop

I've talked a bit about their coop here, but I kind of wanted to tell you about how it is holding up. Mike affectionately refers to the coop as, “A piece of crap.” I wouldn't go that far, but I don’t think too highly of it either. I knew going into this that the pre-fab coop was going to be cheap and not very well insulated. I knew that tweaks would be needed to make it inhabitable for our chicks. But, I also wasn't planning for the water issues that we are already having. The roof on the coop leaks in certain places, so we already have to think about what we need to get it ready for winter. As the chicks get older, we are also going to have to work on the ventilation in the coop. Right now it is functional, but we definitely need to get creative to fix some of the little issues it has. If we had the money to make a sweet coop, I would go that route. In the future, we have our eyes set on a little shed (we’re talking way down the road, folks, like 5-6 years from now) that would rest in a large play yard.

Chicken Coop Waterer and Feeder

We have the feeder and waterer hanging on a wooden garden stake that we found at Lowe’s for $2.99. It seems to do the trick for now. Since the chicks are constantly growing, this also allows us to adjust the height when necessary.

Chicks Nine Weeks 6

Our girls like to spend time in groups. I usually find a group huddled in the coop in one of the nesting boxes and another group under the coop in the play yard. It’s good to see that they stick together and keep each other warm. They definitely get friendly when you approach them.

Chicks Nine Weeks 1

Chicks Nine Weeks 5

Over the weekend we gave away two of our babies to a friend of a friend. I’m a little said to break up the group, but at the same time, I know they are going to an excellent home where they will be well taken care of. So now we are down to four.

Chicks Nine Weeks 3

I need to be better at remembering to take pictures. The chicks have been enjoying a diet of chick grower feed with some treats mixed in. They started out loving meal worms, but have lately been bored with them. Things that they have consumed recently are: lettuce leaves, grass shoots from the garden, and some meal worms.

Chicks Nine Weeks 4

Leela seems to enjoy seeing the chicks. We cautiously keep her on a leash and this picture was taken with Mike carefully holding onto her collar so she couldn't get much closer. After all, she is a dog and her instinct is to chase and kill (although we could never imagine our sweet Leela doing so!) small animals. Gizmo also goes down to the coop from time to time and checks out the chicks. They are about the same size as her now and she seems to play nice.

Overall, we've really enjoyed our chicks outside. It is fun to go out to the garden and visit with the girls. They are good company for when I am gardening, too! It smells so much better in our house and the coop doesn't seem to smell much either (although if we ever get any 90+ degree days, I might change my tune on this one). The chicks have a ton of room to run around in now and I think they are much happier out there, being in the fresh air and living (almost) free range.