Spring Chicks

Ever since we got permission to turn the shed into a chicken coop, I have been a little (too) excited about getting chickens.

This post could also be titled "The Love Joy of My Daughter, Eliana," because she loves chickens. And she is just so cute with them. She had just got done taking a bath and her cheeks were rosy pink from the warm water, he hair was yet uncombed, but that made her all the sweeter. And I was a little camera happy.

I tried to get her to hold the other ones more, but this one was her favorite. She is a Black Australorp.

Here we have 5 New Hampshire Reds and 5 Australorps. We later added 3 Barred Rocks, 3 White Plymouth Rocks, and 2 Light Brahmas (we were talked into these last two). Our selections were based off of how good they are with children and how well they lay eggs.

Our initial set up:

(I converted our light hut into a brooder box.)

Fresh water, food, bedding (changed twice a day), a heat lamp and a small chunk of sod from the yard keeps them happy, heathy and chirping away.

I couldn't bring myself to buy the commercial chick starter (even the non-medicated version) and we do not have an organic starter available locally. (When they start laying, I will use this organic layer feed from our food co-op, Azure Standard). So, I make my own chick starter. I use the chick starter recipe at Greener Pasture Chickens as a guide.

I used:

  • 4 parts whole wheat
  • 2 parts whole organic corn
  • 1 part brown rice
  • 1 part oats
  • 1 part raw shelled sunflower seed
  • 1 part alfalfa leaf
  • 1 part dry milk (for calcium)
  • 1/2 part lentil
  • 1/2 part yellow split peas
  • 1/2 part whole green peas
  • 2 tsp. Redmond Real Salt (salt and 50+ trace minerals)

I grind this to a course grind (to a corn meal texture) in my electric stone mill (saves time). I did not have flax seed when I made my first couple batches, but it is on my co-op list.

I also give them an organic scrambled egg a day and freshly dug baby worms from our worm compost bin, sprouts and micro-greens. I added the dry milk for calcium, but also grind up dry egg shells for calcium and grit.

For a treat, and to teach them to eat out of our hands (makes them friendlier), I give them sprouted sunflower seeds and sprouted green peas (I have to split the peas once they are sprouted). They love the sprouted sunflower seeds the most. They are quite amusing. Once they snatch a sprout they will chase each other around - like a game of tag. They also play tug of war with the baby worms. Now, when I put my hand in the box, they come running to me. They even jump up on my hand.

And they love the grass clump.

I am also giving them micro-greens. As I thin my lettuce, I am giving them the seedlings I thin out. I also started a tray of lettuce just to feed the chicks.

To water them, I am giving them Berkey (purified) water with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 3 garlic cloves per gallon of water. I mix it up ahead of time and then refill their container as needed.

(The garlic cloves must love the water because they sprout and grow quickly.)

Little did I know, however, that the light hut box would prove amusing to the chicks.

I forgot that chicks like shiny objects!

As soon as they got a piece of foil off the side, they would chase each other around trying to get it. Very entertaining to watch. =)

Needless to say, the foil came off. And I found a bigger box to give the growing flock some room (growing in numbers and size). The new chicks are a week younger, but it made me realize how fast the first ones are growing. They can already flutter/hop to the top of the box. Our first flock is a little over 2 weeks old and our newest additions are a little over a week old.

They have lots of room now! We upgraded to a much larger box and a larger water container, but I still need to upgrade the feed container. I have to fill this one twice a day.

Can you tell what doesn't belong in this picture? =)

This is the second time we have had chickens. We had ten before, but we had to sell them when we moved. We are happy to get eggs from them, but it is such fun and joy to raise chickens on your own and I am looking forward to the boys and I tending them in our back yard. I made an apron for Elli last summer and I think she will grow into it just when the chickens will start laying (when they are about 20 weeks old). I can just see her out there collecting eggs in her little apron. =) And the boys are looking forward to making some money selling the eggs, since we will have more than we can eat with 18 chickens!

1 comment

  1. I love this post Michelle, I'm a year late but that's ok. Growing up, we raised lots of chicks and they always brought joy to my life. What sweetness chickens are.
    blessings ~ Carmen