Wow! From toddler to teen in five and half weeks! I went over to visit B&C, see the chicks, and pick up some surplus dairy manure last weekend. It’s been eight years since I had chicks (although those brown leghorns at the feed store looked really tempting), so I’m thinking they’ll still have some down on them, maybe about so big….
Wrong. Super growth spurt time. I walk into the back yard on that sublime warm Sunday afternoon and they have the chicks outdoors for a little fun in the sun. Let’s take a look:
And is that raspberry lip gloss? Go upstairs and wash that off young lady. I guess we did kind of skip a week, and a whole lot goes in a week at this point. Compare this week’s picture with the last posting and you can see they have tripled? or quadrupled! in size, and they have gone from being wide eyed little kids to adventurous “tweens”. The birds were ecstatic to be out in the real world, clucking and whistling and tittering with each new discovery. “Here’s a bug!”. “Look, a rock!”. “Hey check out this weed, let’s eat it!” They were digging and running around with such frenetic energy that I probably don’t have a single picture that isn’t a little blurry (stupid digital camera, stupid digital age).
Before we go any further, let’s talk about going outside with young birds. First, it does have to be a nice day. They are pretty feathered out, but you don’t want them getting wet or cold. They can have access to a sunny spot, but they MUST also have shade for cooling off- imagine being stuck in full sun wearing a down coat. Make sure they have a little food and plenty of water for their adventure.
As you can see, these birds have lost their chick down, and are starting to show the adult coloration and markings. They aren’t fully feathered yet, but they are well on their way.
Look at those wing feathers! These girls are still practicing, but once they have feathered out to this point, I’d keep a screen over their enclosure. Make sure the screen is heavy enough to stay in place, and seated in a secure position so it can’t fall into the enclosure and pin the birds. The chicks/pullets… hmmm, not quite chicks, not quite pullets….chullets? Chickllets? Pullicks? Anyway, the birds can hit the screen pretty hard when they want to go flying, so make sure it won’t come loose and fall on them.
This was a tough shot to get. The Silver Gray Dorking is an ancient breed that goes back at least to Roman times, and it has five toes. It has the usual three big ones in front, the short one in back, and then above the short one there is another long toe pointing backwards. I really can’t see any advantage to it, but who knows?
Here’s a good shot of the Welsummer. Note the comb developing and also the “ear lobes”are becoming noticeable.
And here is the Wyandotte. It is hard to tell in the pictures, but the Wyandotte is about 15-20 percent smaller than the other two, and this is the different that four or five days makes. The Dorking and the Welsummer were from a previous shipment of chicks, so they had a few days head start. This gives you an idea of just how fast these birds are growing.
In fact, these gals are almost ready to switch over to “developer” feed. You give them the chick crumbles for the first 6-8 weeks, then they go to the developer. Offer chick grit at this point for their gizzard. At ten weeks they can start to have some oats and some greens. At about twenty weeks you’ll start to taper into the layer mash. Do not give layer mash until they are about ready to lay, or the extra calcium in the feed can lead to malformation of their bones.
And here’s a good shot of the Silver Gray Dorking.
All right girls, get upstairs and do your homework.