Chicks Ahoy!

I got my chick brooder made on Monday. It's not pretty, but it works!

On Wednesday, we went and got our first batch of chicks from local producer Doug Fergusson. There are several little dark Speckladies--Rhode Island Red crossed with Cuckoo Maran (including a rooster--would he be a "Specklad"?)...

...and a few chicks that were (if my memory serves me correctly) crossed between a Light Sussex and a Rhode Island Red. The little rooster chick is all fluffy and golden, just the way you imagine a chick to be...

...and the two little pullets were brown and patterned and pretty.

One of them wasn't doing so good when we picked her up (at four days old), and sadly, didn't live past Thursday morning. However, the other little girl is alive and feisty and doing well! That makes 7 chicks in all, now.

Two of the chicks were already two weeks old, so they are losing their down and getting feathers, and look like porcupines on a bad hair day!

They are so much fun to watch.

Nala thinks so, too.

All the girls are going to be kept as layers when they get older, but since these boys are all relatives (by their daddy) to the girls, their fate is our freezer by fall. We will be going to pick up a couple more chicks in a few weeks of a different cross, and we can keep that rooster for the purposes of the self-renewing flock I am beginning to build.

We will also be getting a bunch of commercial chicks for our meat birds for next winter, and just raising them as we raise the heritage breeds--soy-free. Eventually, I want to build my flock to the point that we can hatch our own chicks in the spring to supply our meat for fall, but that may take up to a couple of years. We'll see--I still have so much to learn!

This last week, I've been cramming my brain full of chick-feeding philosophies. I can't get any soy-free feed here, so I went to the UFA farm supply store, and came home with 25 kg (about 50 lbs.) each of cracked wheat, cracked corn, rolled oats, and oyster shell! Since these chickens will be on pasture for the summer, that oughta last us well into next year! Grit was supplied by the pet food store, and I have been experimenting with what works and doesn't as far as feeding. I'm hoping that my experiments don't result in high mortality rates!

So far, so good, though.

So far, so fun!