Easter Hatch-A-Long Update #5

Thursday was the main day for hatching, and since I knew I’d need the brooder the older chicks were currently in, I worked outside on the shed brooder. It was a beautiful warm day, I only wore a light hoodie and a pair of snowpants. Several years ago, when we lived next to the Humane Society, one of my coworkers came over while I was outside. He asked me if I’d like this wooden “box” that someone had donated, as they’d used it for kittens. They didn’t have any room or need for it, and wanted to know it I wanted it. I looked at it, and it was a beauty! I didn’t know at the time exactly what I’d use it for, but knew I’d better take it than let it go to waste. So, it saw under the eaves & we used it as for storage, and last year when we moved, I knew I wanted to keep it. Since it was made with nice, new wood, I knew it would be best kept out of the weather, so we opted to put it inside the green shed. Again, it was used for storage for awhile, but I wanted it accessible, as I had a “plan in mind” for it.
Back when I started to organize the shed, I had on purpose moved it to an accessible location at the front of the shed, and gathered some materials for my future project. But, then it got really cold, snowy & other projects took priority until this past Thursday. You know how you get things done best when under pressure or have a deadline? Well, this is one such case. In one day, I transformed that wooden “box” into a chick brooder, using an old closet door, cheap “imitation wood” from old desks, a little of the recycled wood from my “ever-lovin’ wood-pile” and a scrap piece of rabbit cage wire. Then, I added ½ a bag of shavings, a new bag of grass pellets, and some of the “used” grass pullets from the indoor brooder. I also made a holder for the feed trays, so they’ll be less likely to fill them up with grass pellets & shavings. Hooked up two lights, hung a poultry nipple waterer.
After supper, I wing-banded the older chicks that I thought I’d sell & didn’t need to wingband. But they’re still here, and even though at least 4 of the 8 are roosters, I still want to keep track of who’s who.
Then, I did a quick photo-shoot. Not a glamorous one, just one for my records and to learn, so eventually I’ll be able to learn how to tell their genders at an earlier age. Therefore, as I was examining each chick, I looked at their comb, leg size, etc & wrote their # down on a sheet of paper under “Male”, “Female” or “Not Sure Yet”. It’ll be interesting to see as I keep checking, if the ones I guessed were males now actually are or not. They sure are growing fast, both in size and feathers. When I first moved the chicks to the “Shed Brooder”, as I’m calling it, they immediately began scratching in the litter & eating the wood shavings! I on purpose didn’t give them any when they were younger, figuring by now they’d know it wasn’t food. But, I guess I was wrong about that! So, I quickly filled their feeders & gave them their real food. Even though it was the same red trough feeders, the “new design” baffled them, so they didn’t come running to the feeder as they normally do. Instead, they were intrigued by the poultry nipple waterer, which was leaking like a sieve .  I eventually had to change out the waterer with the one that they had been using. Now, I just have to fix the leaky one, or name a new one. I’d like to experiment with a PVC one, linked to a bucket reservoir outside of the brooder. Then, I could raise & lower the PVC poultry nipples as they grew, so it’s always at the right height for them.
Thursday was a great day to transition them to “partially outdoors”, as it was so warm & even stayed above freezing at night, I think in the low 40’s actually! I was commenting that if they had been with a broody hen, they would have been outside foraging already, especially on such a warm day. But, soon enough, we’ll have two broody hens & their (hopeful) chicks. I have a separate area all set up for Rainbow, but I still have to work on one for Lydia, who’s actually due around the 12th. While I love watching the hens & chicks, I have noticed that the chicks in the brooder are growing bigger much faster, probably due to having chick feed 24/7. Whereas, when the hen & chicks are outside foraging with the rest of the flock, it’s harder to provide feed for them without the older ones “hogging” it.

That’s why I originally wanted to have a totally separate area for them, so they can still have their chick starter & forage, without their feed being stolen. But, I don’t know if I’ll get that far along before their chicks hatch.