Friday, November 14, 2008

The Chicks Have Landed

Chick Time (the hen's head bobs up & down with the second count)

Every 18 months or so, we order day-old chicks to replace our laying flock. For those of you unfamiliar with the acquisition of chicks, the process harkens back to the days when you ordered whatever you needed from the old, dog-eared Sears & Roebuck catalog and your items arrived in the mail. Yep, you heard it right...chicks arrive in the mail (so do honey bees, but that's for another post). The Post Office doesn't particularly like having a case of live, peeping, liability on their loading dock, so they tend to call you immediately upon the chicks arrival. So at 6:04 this morning, we got the call.

Chicks arrive in a nicely designed box that is divided into four compartments, each quarter holds 25 chicks

These are the 50 Buff Orpington chicks, we also got 25 Americaunas

Mail order chicks are sent as "day-old" which means they were born the day before or day of shipping. For the first 24-36hours of life, chicks continue to receive nurishment from the egg yolk, which they absorbed right before hatching. So they do not require food or water until their "internal food" is exhausted.

As soon as we get them home, we remove them from the box one at a time and dip their little beaks into water with an electrolyte mix added. This teaches them how to drink and helps them recognize the water container as the place to go when they are thirsty.

All 75 (actually 77) chicks arrived looking strong and healthy and are settled into their water tank home in our sunroom.

In a few days we will move half of them to a second tank as they will soon be too big to all fit in one. They will stay in the sunroom for the first month or so, as it gives us a very secure place to keep an eye on them and makes it much easier to maintain the correct temperature for them. For the first few weeks, chicks require lots of warmth (+90 °) and at this time of the year, its just easier to have them "inside." Besides its so relaxing to hang out and watch them puttering about. Who needs expensive spas? We just hang out with the chicks for a while : )


Headfam said...

I'll bet the cats are loving those chicks in their sunroom. :-)

BlueGate said...

Yes, it is an uneasy truce. Its worked out well in the past though.

girlwithasword said...

omg!!! SO CUTE! What a great post. i have never seen the "chicken box" from the post office before. How fascinating.

And, srsly. do you have to keep the cats out of the sunroom? They must be thinking it's a smorgasboard.....

BlueGate said...

We made covers from heavy hardware cloth that fit over each tub. They are strong enough that they will hold the weight of a cat, if necessary. Though we strongly discourage the cats touching the tubs or covers. They can see in, but not touch. Its worked well for three hatchings of chicks so far.