[This series is a diary of our experience with raising chickens for our home flock. To see all articles in this series, please visit Home Flock Series.]
As the chicks grow older, then don’t need as much supplementary heat. A good rule of thumb is to start at 90-95°F and reduce their brooder temperature by 5°F each week until you reach 70°F. You can adjust and monitor the temperature with the help of a thermometer, or you can do as we have been doing and watch the behavior of the chicks to determine if the brooder is too warm or too cold in order to make adjustments. (If the chicks avoid the warm area directly beneath the heat lamp, they’re too warm, and if they huddle together, they are too cold.)
With the warmer outdoor weather and the chicks being a week older, we now have the heat lamp suspended about 3 feet above the top of the brooder. On warm days, in the 90s (F), we turn off the heat lamp altogether until the day begins to cool as evening approaches.
The chicks are growing well. Some of them have begun sparring. This usually only lasts for a few seconds at a time, and it is difficult to capture a photo of them in action. The photo below is the closest I’ve gotten, and it isn’t fully representative of their action. The camera’s shutter speed is 1/60, so you can see that the chicks’ wings are moving pretty fast.
Wing and Tail Feathers
The chicks’ wing feathers and tail feathers are developing at a different rates among the different breeds. The Araucanas/Americanas have the most fully developed wings, and the Partridge Rocks and Turkens are close behind them, though there is quite a bit of variability among the Turkens. The Araucanas, Partridge Rocks, and Turkens are all beginning to show tail feathers.
The Buff Rocks have the largest body size of all the chicks, but their wing feathers are developing more slowly, and their tail feathers are not yet obvious.
Foraging in the Yard
We brought 16 of the chicks out into the yard today to let them forage. At first, they were rather timid, but now they have become a little more adventurous. The are finding small seeds or insects to eat and nibbling on bits of grass. After foraging for awhile, they sit down or lay down to rest, then after a few minutes they start to forage again.
We added a second, larger tray feeder to the brooder because the chicks have been going through the feed quickly (we’ve been replenishing the small feeder several times per day).
Free Rare Chick
We’ve identified which chick is the Exotic Rare Chick, and are fairly sure it is an Americana, based on its pea comb and blue-green leg color, though it is distinctly different from the others both in plumage color and in lacking the prominent feathered tufts on the side of the face. I think it is the most handsome of the bunch.
You can click any of the photos thumbnails below to see a larger view.