I'm experiencing chicken anxiety, my friends.
It began when I realized how emotionally attached my 9 year old boy had become to the chickens--you know, the ones we didn't even have yet? With only 5 chickens, all of different breeds, if one died, it would be really easy to tell which one it was. I suddenly realized, like flipping a switch, that they couldn't die, because my baby would be devastated.
It intensified when Hubby came home the evening before we were to pick the girls up, and asked, with a strangely pained expression, "what's the survival rate for chicks, anyway? Because I heard it's not very good." This means either he was talking to someone at work (which is possible, but probably would have come up before then) or his uncle's chicks experienced a huge die-off (which wouldn't surprise me at all, since Hubby's uncle is impulsive and most likely acquired his chicks on a whim, not bothering to do any research on how to care for them).
What put me over the top was not one, but two of my good girlfriends exclaiming with incredulity, "they did?!?" when I reported that all of the chicks survived their first night. Seriously? Is it that rare that newly acquired chicks would survive the first night in their new home?
Most chicks, if they're going to die, die because they were handled roughly during transport or they get too cold. If they're going to die, they will die within 48 hours or so of coming home. We are past that point, and our girls are fine. I think it definitely helped that my chicks were sorted at the feed store after being shipped. The feed store has a vested interest in the chicks they sell living, so they probably don't give the sickly ones to customers.
After that, the next most likely reason for chick death is "pasting up," which is when poop sticks to their bodies and dries, blocking their vents. It's extreme chick constipation, and it's deadly.
So I have become obsessed with chicken butts. I stare at those butts every time I check on the girls. I love to see them poop, because then I know they're not blocked up. It's a little like how new mamas can become obsessed with the contents of their baby's diapers.
I have to keep reminding myself of the conversation I had with our chicken-keeping friend when he brought over the chick feeder and waterer. I think he said he's only lost 1 chick out of the hundred-plus he's raised, and that was during shipping. He told me to just keep them warm, and make sure they have plenty of food and water. Which I am doing fabulously.
And now, some chick pictures.
Edie (for now)
|Rocky and Austro|
|Lovely, Red. Well, at least we know you're not pasted up.|
Toasty-Crunch and Red