Chickens – Week 1

When we decided to start a blog, we knew we were planning on getting chickens. It was in the making. We just had to wait for the hatchery. We mail ordered our chickens from Meyer Hatchery in the beginning of July. The next hatch date was July 27th and we knew they would ship them that day. We received our 21 chicks two days later after a 4 a.m. phone call from the local post office. We originally order 22 chicks total, 11 male and 11 female, but one of the females didn’t make it in shipping. Since this is our first flock, we were expecting some accidental and intentional killings (i.e. hawks and racoons). Kind of like a trial and error run. We were constantly praying that these little chicks would grow up safe and strong and provide us with healthy meals. Our plan is to kill the roosters and keep the hens, although that plan might change along the way.

We received our babies on July 29th. The weekend before, we built our brooder. Dale had done his research, and with the amount of chicks we got, we knew that plastic bins wouldn’t be enough room for chicks that grow so quickly. So here you have it:

First, we cut up some cardboard boxes that we had from our recent move. See poor little Chester over there? He thinks this is for him and he’s not happy. Little does he know what’s really coming. If we ever do this again, which I’m sure we will, we will probably use something other than duct tape. Simply because in the heat and humidity of Oklahoma and the heat lamp, the duct tape just doesn’t like to stick.

Brooder

Second, we cut some huge 50 gallon trash bags and opened them up and laid them down, making sure to tape them up the wall a bit so nothing can leak through and ruin the cardboard.

Brooder

Then we laid down newspaper. We had collected at least a months worth of daily newspapers for this. Then we decided to divide the brooder in half so we could better contain and control the little chickies. Once they reach an appropriate size, we will open it up for them.

Brooder

After the newspaper, we added some pine shavings to each side.

Brooder

Lastly, we added the feeder, waterer, and heat lamp, which we strung up from the fluorescent lights in the garage. We set it up in the corner of this section so that if we accidentally got it too hot, they could get away from it. Like I said, trial and error. We also didn’t buy a thermometer, which I guess we should have, but whatever.

Brooder

I think these chicks will absolute love their brooder. Now to wait for these little things to arrive.

And when they did, we were so fascinated by these little fuzz balls.

Week 1 Week 1 Week 1 Week 1 Week 1 Week 1

Aren’t they adorable? We have never experienced anything like this before… well… except for that one time when we were in high school and Dale brought home two Easter ducklings and didn’t tell his parents until they were discovered in his sister’s bathtub. But these are cuter, by far! Our order included:

  • 1 female Easter Egger
  • 2 female and 1 male Blue Andalusian
  • 2 female and 1 male Buckeye
  • 2 female and 2 male Speckled Sussex
  • 2 female and 3 male Partridge Cochins
  • 3 female and 3 male Light Brahmas (although I think it was one of these that died)

We spent the first week getting to know each other. We would pick them up and talk to them and set them down and attempt to pick up a different chicken. We introduced them to the dogs, or really, introduced the dogs to the chicks. Rusty, our lab/rott mix, wanted to lick them, but he quickly realized they weren’t food and a few days later would just lay down by the box and take naps… which we were very happy about (see images of him below). Chester, our Irish terrier mix, was a completely different story. We are still trying to calm him down around them. Hopefully one day, with a lot of our patience and a lot of stressing him out and testing him with a tape muzzle, he will stop seeing them as a toy and treat and instead just protect them from predators. Good thing we plan on free ranging them inside a fenced off section of our property, where he can’t get to them.

                                                     IMG_5134IMG_5156IMG_5159

Since we received them, we have decided to name two chicks, each for different reasons.

First off, we named the Easter Egger, since we know for a fact that we wouldn’t be killing her for meat. She was the one chicken I wanted because she would lay beautiful eggs. This is her, below:

Week 1

We named her Lucy. She looks like a little cheetah from the top. I absolutely adore her. One of the first times I held her in my hands, I stroked her back and she fell asleep nuzzled in the crooks of my fingers. Dale has even placed her in his shirt pocket and she nuzzled right in and fell asleep. We have yet to see this done with any other chick. The ones we’ve tried it on have just fought it.

The other that we’ve named is Fatty, a Light Brahma, on the right (a Speckled Sussex is on the left):

Week 1

I know it sounds like a cruel name, but he’s a rooster, and he was the fattest chick all of week 1. He was also the first to come up to our hands when we reached in. Of course, he bowed up to us the first few times, but now he just runs up to us expecting food, or crickets. He doesn’t mind being held either, which is good for him being a rooster.

My idea of a rooster is they can be mean and loud, which is why we thought we would kill all of the roosters we ordered. But then I did a little research and realized that roosters might actually help protect the flock. So we may or may not keep one or more roosters. I guess it will depend on their temperament, which, if we keep handling Fatty and he ends up being a very friendly rooster, it might be worth it to keep him around.

I tried naming another chick, one of the Blue Ands, and Dale did not like that. I understand not naming the chicks because I’ll get attached to them and won’t be able to kill them… but I’m raising them. How can I not be attached to them? Besides, I don’t have the heart to kill anything, not even a fly (mosquitoes, definitely), so I won’t be doing the killing here! Oh well, I’ll name the ones we do keep.

In their first week of life, they had already started gaining their adult wing feathers and tail feathers. We also noticed that Lucy’s feet are getting rougher. We will post weekly updates on their progress.

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3 thoughts on “Chickens – Week 1

  1. If you order again it might be a good idea to order a little earlier in the year. I placed my order with Meyer in February and got them at the end of March. Out of the 27 I ordered I didn’t lose a single one. The adopt me assortment is worth looking into. They’re the cheapest chicks they have and you could end up with turkey poults. Granted, they’re the turkey version of broilers. You can’t breed them without a ton of problems, but worth not having to buy a turkey for Thanksgiving.

    • Thanks for the advice! We thought about the adopt me assortment, but decided we wanted to know what we were getting. Since we’re free ranging them, we definitely wanted some self reliant foragers and my want was that they were all friendly. We have a friend who has turkeys, and she’s trying to talk us into turkeys too, so maybe next year we will get some!

      • I still don’t know what a few of mine are, but they’ve all turned out to be friendly. My buff orps are they friendliest so far.

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