Tweenager Chicken Check In

Our baby chicks are looking more and more like miniature adults, only awkwardly so.  Their heads are still mostly downy fluff balls, but their bodies are sprouting feathers. They are still absolutely adorable.

Raising the chicks in the former-penthouse-suite-turned-henitentiary-turned brooder has been rewarding in some ways, disappointing in others. When the chicks are in the house, sure, they’re a noisy, smelly group. Last year’s chicks were certainly handled more than these chicks—and more acquainted with the sight of humans because we walked by them all the time. Heck, last year, they were in my office, chirping during my telecommuting meetings. I had to mute myself during an interview because the chicks wouldn’t stop peep-peeping away. (Incidentally, that was my favorite meeting ever! Everyone busted out big smiles and giggles whenever I unmuted myself to ask a question or follow-up on the interviewee’s response.) This year’s batch of baby chicks is nowhere near so familiar with the ins and outs of humanity. One of the joys of baby chicks is the cuddles, and we’ve definitely had fewer cuddles this year while raising them outside, but the integration into the main coop will go much more smoothly because we’ll be able to introduce them when they’re larger and have lived side-by-side for almost all of their little downy fluffball lives.

Still, the chicks seem to be doing well, and my husband definitely prefers them outside. Unfortunately, the Kansas weather has been living up to its reputation for horrible inconsistencies. First it was unseasonably cold, and now it’s August-furnace hot outside. The chicks are doing okay with it, but I’ve been checking their water regularly. I love watching the baby chicks race down from brooder’s compartment to go scratch about in the dirt. They’re already sunbathing and dust bathing and having a grand ol’ time like pros in chickendom.

One of the chicks, however, has had a rough week. On the first August-like day in June, I found her resting on the cement slab in the shade, with her wings out trying to cool herself off. She was pretty nonresponsive and didn’t scuttle away when I came to check on her. I took her inside to cool her off and made sure she drank some water. She was like a sleepy pile of chicken putty, completely pliant for whatever I wanted her to do (even holding her against some ice; I was worried she was overheated). She’s been lethargic ever sense, dozing off repeatedly and unexpectedly and noticeably more than the other chicks in the coop. She’s doing better—but better here means that she’s moving around the chicken coop on her own. The first day or two, she didn’t seem to move much at all of her own volition. Unfortunately, she’s my Dorking, which is my current favorite breed of chicken. Still, she seems on the mend right now… so that’s promising. I’ve been steeling myself for days to find her dead in the brooder.

My other chicks are all doing pretty well. Unfortunately, I suspect that one of my chicks is a rooster because I don’t believe that a New Hampshire Red should be larger than a Dark Brahma right now. We’ll see once they start crowing (or not crowing, as the case may be). I also am very, very hopeful that my Cuckoo Maran will lay some beautiful, beautiful dark brown eggs… because she’s nearly homicidal in her mania to get away from me, which is infuriating. I don’t do crazy chicken. I can’t even try to touch her without her jumping up into the air, knocking other chicks out of the way, and screeching bloody murder if I so much as inch my hand closer to her. If this is a typical breed characteristic, no thank you! She’s my first. I remember thinking my White Laced Red Cornish was crazy last year (luckily, she settled a little once she came of age and learned the submissive squat, but only just); my Cuckoo Maran is more than a little cuckoo and has my cornish beat handily.

How are your baby chicks doing this year?

Left top: New Hampshire Red (likely a rooster) with my dozing Dorking under; top right: my crazy Cuckoo Maran; middle right: Silver Laced Cochin; bottom right: Dark Brahma.



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