Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Eight day old chicks

The baby chicks that arrived last week are growing fast. They are now eight days old and their wing and tail feathers are filling in nicely. Their physical size increase is becoming noticeable.

The chicks live in a 4 foot square brooder pen that we have located in a shed adjacent to our house. Although the shed itself is not heated, the pen is heated using two 250 watt heat lamps. The pen is insulated on all four sides and partially on the top to retain the heat. It has been cold and damp every day since the chicks arrived, but the floor of the brooder has remained right around 90 degrees Fahrenheit which is a good temperature for the chicks. As they get older and stronger we will gradually raise the heat lamps which will lower the temperature to harden the birds for their eventual transition to the outdoors. The top of the brooder pen is hinged to provide easy access to the interior. The floor is covered by a layer of pine shavings. Here is what the setup looks like.

Last year, our first for raising chickens, we kept the brooder pen in our basement. But we found that as the chicks got bigger, so did the smell and the dust. It is amazing how much dust chickens can generate from their constant scratching activity. So this year we decided to try them out in the shed. So far, so good. We lost a chick the first day, but the rest seem to be doing well, knock on wood. More updates to follow.

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