Thursday, June 8, 2017

Chick update: 4 weeks

If you were paying attention, you will realize that I did not post a 3 week chick update.  I had the pictures, but...I guess...I just didn't get to blogging the update.  Forgive me?

Since the two week update, I introduced a bigger dust bath, and the girls have enjoyed using it, however there still isn't really room for more than one to bathe at a time.  I also reintroduced the nipple waterer, and everyone has figured it out.  This is a huge help in keeping the girls' water clean.  In addition, I fashioned some party-hat shaped cones to place on top of the waterer and feeder to keep the chickens from roosting on (and pooping in) them.

The girls think I'm a good place to roost
I've been taking the chicks out for a romp in the yard just about every day, but since they're still so small and we don't have a secure safe area for them yet, I stay outside watching them the whole time, so the trips are usually pretty short.  It's fun to watch the girls when they have more space to roam--they still stay pretty close together, and every now and then run or fly back to where I am, I guess to reassure themselves.  They really love eating bugs and worms, and will chase each other around trying to get a tasty morsel away from a sister.

In just the past couple of days, the chicks have been roosting more often, and yesterday I happened to look in on them while they were all perching on the roost Hubby made for them.  So sweet.

Esther (Easter Egger)
Esther is the biggest of the birds, and actually she was the biggest we brought them home, too.  I'm hoping that she's bigger because she's older rather than because she's a rooster.  Consequently, I've been googling how to tell gender in Easter Egger chicks.  I'm not having too much success because Easter Eggers are not a breed per se, they are a collection of birds who bear the blue/green egg gene.  In other words, they're all mutts.  However, I have not seen any of the for-sure-your-chick-is-a-rooster characteristics yet.  At this point, all we can do is wait and see.

Esther looks like she will be a white bird with black and buff lacing.  Very unusual, and very pretty.  She also has green-tinted legs.

Red (Rhode Island Red)
Red is always the first chick to try to escape the brooder.  Several times, she's flown out to perch and/or walk around on the upper edge of the brooder.  Red is the main reason we're keeping the brooder covered these days, and every time I open the screen, I can just see her thinking about flapping out.  As you can see from this picture, the girls are totally looking like mini-chickens these days, rather than fluffy, cute chicks.

Toasty Crunch (Cinnamon Queen)
Toasty is the one chick who we know for sure is a hen, because the male and female chicks of this breed are different colors.  Toasty is usually the second bird to fly the coop, so to speak, although unlike Red, Toasty generally flies back down into the brooder immediately.  Her head and breast have turned a lovely cinnamon color.

Austro (Black Australorp)
Look at those tail feathers!  Austro will be solid black when she's grown, and to that end, her breast feathers are coming in black.

Rocky (Barred Rock)
Rocky's barred pattern is becoming really well defined, even on her head now.  She's looking a little scruffy on her head and neck because she's growing feathers and losing the last of her down.  All the chicks are growing feathers on their heads and necks, but I think this picture probably shows the scruffy the best.  Once the chickens are fully feathered (no, I'm not exactly sure what that means, but they're close, if not there already), they'll be able to regulate their body temperature and they'll be able to stay outside full time.

I took these 4 week pictures while the girls and I were outside on a field trip.  I carry them out in this box, which they attempt and succeed, to escape, as I am walking out to the backyard, and then, after the girls are out, I tip it on its side so the girls can take shelter if they wish.  Here they were snuggling up together.

The chicken run is screened in now with hardware cloth and the door to the run is in place.  We still need the hen house walls and more hardware cloth around the bottom of the run to deter digging predators.  Hopefully that'll be done soon, because I think the girls will really appreciate having more room to roam.

That's all for now.  More to come.

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