Raising Chickens for Our Home Flock, Day 23

Buff Rock in Brooder

[This series is a diary of our experience raising chickens for our home flock. To see all articles in this series, please visit Home Flock Series.]

From the Brooder into the Chicken Tractor

Today we moved the chicks from the brooder to an A-frame chicken tractor we had built several years ago. Normally, I would have waited until the chicks were 4 weeks old and  more fully feathered before moving them, so that they would continue to receive the warmth of the brooder’s heat lamp, but because our weather has been warm enough for the chicks and is growing increasingly warmer and because the chicks would have soon become too crowded in this brooder, we went ahead with the move today. My children helped with the transfer, as we moved them first into a cardboard box, then into the A-frame chicken tractor.

Transferring chicks

The chicks were timid when we first introduced them to the chicken tractor, but within minutes, they were beginning to enjoy the extra space and access to grass and bugs.

In the Chicken Tractor

The chicks have grown and developed a lot in the past week.  If you’ve been following this series, you will notice differences in the plumage of the free rare/exotic chick.


Rare/Exotic Chick

Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery of photos. Click on any photo to see a larger view.

Feedback and Comments

If you are raising chicks, we’d like to hear about them. What breeds are you raising? Which are your favorites? What age are they? What changes have you noticed in them over the past week?

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15 Responses to Raising Chickens for Our Home Flock, Day 23

  1. Meg says:

    Our chicks–four Cochins, seven Polish Tophats, have just spent their first night out. We set up a box for them in the chicken tractor. Now we need to put up a roost in the box so they won’t all bunch up on the ground. We had an Australorp and a Buff Orpington too but had to give them away as one of the Cochins spent her entire day stalking them both. Should have let the Cochin go but no one wanted her. Still nervous about combining flocks. We’ve done it four times before but never had so many Tophats. Will let you know how it goes!

  2. gerald bernier says:

    I got my baby chicks on may 3rd and I’m thinking they are ready to move into their new coop. I’ve been taking them out to a 10’x16′ run I have for them. It used to be a friend of mine’s dog kennel, but his dogs he has now never needed it, so he gave it to me back when I told him I got the chicks, but the other day 2 of them found a way out of it. I thought that one was gone. We found 1 in the woods behind the kennel but couldn’t find one of them, but about 15 mins before we were ready to bring the chicks in for the night the missing one was at the door to the kennel trying to get back in with the rest of them. Well we found the place that they got out from and fixed the problem and at the same time we think we made it so that any digging animals won’t be getting at them. We also put some 2×4 inch fencing around the bottom of it and buried it into the ground about 16 inches.

  3. Deb says:

    I have Buff Orpington chicks 6 weeks old. It is very hot where we live, and I took the brooder light out of the coop and replaced it with a regular light bulb.
    This is what I have noticed about the chicks–a couple of nights I didn’t get out to turn on the light before dark and the chicks did not go into the coop; instead they bunched up in the attached run-around in the corner up against the building. Why wouldn’t they go inside the coop with no light? Is there a point when they will begin to do so?

    • Matthew says:

      Deb, you may have to put them into the coop by hand for several days until they get the idea and develop a habit of putting themselves away.

    • Deb says:

      Yep, you were right. I am just now getting back to check your response and that is exactly what we have done; physcally put them on the roost for two nights. I removed the 60 watt bulb and put up a night light for a couple of nights and have now removed it as well.
      They now put themselves to bed everynight around 8:45pm. Funny thing is most all of the 27 chicks, now 7 weeks old, want on the top roost, even if they are on top of each other. They are so funny!

  4. Roy Neudecker says:

    The timing of these articles couldn’t have been at a better time. I received my chicks on May 9th, so ours are very closely paired in age. I am able to compare how mine are progressing by your’s. I have Buff Orpingtons, Red Rockets, Columbian Wyandottes, Silver Laced Wyandotts and my rare little girl that I haven’t figured out what she is yet. They are all getting their adult feathers like yours, and most have their wing feathers. But the Silver Lace developed their fully first. They don’t think anything of flying up out of the brooder, often onto my shoulder while I’m changing water or feed. I’ve gone through a 50 lb. bag of feed in three weeks and since corn on the cob is available in the vegetable department, they get an ear here and there. That is the time I get the biggest squabbles. I had one little girl that has a bad eye due to a peck or scratch. I was able to get some ointment from McMurray to help heal that up quickly. She is doing great but now hides back in the corner so I can’t get to her easily due to the rough handling. All of my birds are very inquisitive and jump up on me given the chance. We have a Min. Schnauser that we have put into the brooder and watch carefully while he gets use to them they get use to him. They do really well together. The birds are all over him when he is with them. Some are pecking at his whiskers others sidle up close to him and fall asleep by his warmth. I’ve got to move them soon to the Chicken Hilton soon to give them more room. We are having a great time with them.


    • Robbie Huber says:

      What you’re seeing with your young shy hen(girl?) is The PECK ORDER!!! That’s probably how\why she got her eye hurt: she’s lower in\on the Pecking Order & “overstepped” the “boundaries”as set by the more “alpha members”.
      WARNING:FYI–where you see them as “pets”;”Kids”\profit-makers (eggs, etc.)–THEY see you as ANOTHER Chicken& will Expect\”Demand” at times that you
      {YOU!} FOLLOW their rules! “Sweet” Rooster may 1 day “surprise” you by turning on you & driving SPURS into your legs (especially PAINFUL when done by (old) roosters with LONG, hard spurs!!) Carry a wooden cane\stick, etc! Roo may be protecting “his” flock &\or just trying to lay down “laws”. Sometimes a good WHACK with cane, etc. is what it TAKES to show him you are the BOSS chicken! Chickens CAN PECK\BITE, too. getting “caught-up in-moments can be “distracting”: more dominate roo chick may just CHALLENGE less dominate one to PECK your “tender back of ankles.” IT HURTS!!!! Later On : if you give : LOVING; ATTENTION\(Medical) CARE to one ; it can then “SET” it “UP” for rivalry\fighting problems! if “Roo #2” WINS & is not a very “desirable” : then you can have some real problems, there! Pecking order can begin 1st\2nd day out of shell! & if MAMA hen decides she doesn’t like\love little chickie: she may sit on; SQUASH to death ALL chicks(22)! One from that batch\clutch got “tossed” out of the nest (located in old horse feed trough) That one died of broken neck! That (mean\bad\inexperienced hen then MET her death(Hawk or G. Horned Owl). 2\3 days later! Other hen (sister) had shared the nest– when both hens eggs hatched (DEC. 24th) : I saw big sis toss the one out & wait~ sit on & squash all hatching peeps– I was devastated! I tried saving the last 4, but had no brooder situation set up at the time– so was not able to keep them warm; had 2 put them back with “mother\aunt” who, then sat on\ killed last 4 half frozen babies! Big sis was killed ; found a few “feathers” on the ground! Lil sister later on, became a better mother 4 most part! raised 6 roosters\1 hen (she Ate 1 peep\chick;pushed another off a ladder top! she would get babies on her back;fly around the old horse stall!
      Lost 5 more to a greater plains Rat Snake:rejected the one “snake survivor–I “hand raised that lil rooster! He was never accepted by rest of flock! give the some love, but remember they are chickens & must follow the “roost RULES.” Be safe\careful: have fun; watch the personalities! Just for fun– don’t know if this works with “other breeds”, but if you get a few SEBRIGHT (LITTLE) roos– when their voices start “Changing”; start sounding like little “Squeaky Hinges”: SAY: I LOVE YOU!!!! as often\much as you can; they WILL LEARN those 3
      wonderful words!!! NOTHING like YOU & YOUR neighbors hear 8 grown Banty roos SCREAMING: I LOVE U at ALL hrs. NIGHT &day!!! EERRRrrrs too, but the I LUV U– PRICELESS!!! HAVE FUN! last–don’t feel bad about knocking a roo\mean bird hard– a mean bird can SEND you to the doctor\ER & they WON’T care if they SPUR ya’ ; peck ya; fly up in your face–beating their wings! they are just doing chicken peck order “things”!

  5. Angela says:

    What causes chicks to get fat toes?

  6. Ronnie Higgins says:

    This is a first time adventure…our 5 “ladies” are the cutest…3 Americanas, 1 Silver Lace Wyandott and 1 Black Sex Link…3 are 4 wks and 2 are 3 wks…just finishing up on the coop..I’ve dubbed it the “Chix Palace”…still have them in the brooder, inside our shed…all are doing well…looking forward to some free range time as soon as it warms up here in Seattle…love your blog! The plumage changes are becoming very apparent…5 very different looks…our granddaughter will be able to know who is who at a glance…

  7. Brenda Lakin says:

    My chicks are now 5 weeks. I had 3 standard EE’s, and six different Bantams. I have never seen chicks grow as fast as the EE’s have. I had to move the 3 EE girls out to the extra coop that I have in the pen for all my older girls and one rooster. They are the same size or larger than my Bantam full grown EE hen! Wondered if you noticed the same thing with your EE’s. Mine are similarly colored to yours. The other 6 Bantams are still in the brooder although they are feathered out and just about ready for a grow out pen… if it ever stops raining!! I also have 4 younger (2 – 3 weeks) chicks in another brooder under a lamp. Got to move each group along so there is room for everyone… Up to my neck in shavings!!

  8. Andrew Gerardi says:

    Yesterday I brought out the last of this years’ hatchlings to the small chicks coop in our back yard. I had to choose some birds to put with the adults and larger chicks (pullets and cockerels) to make room for about 18 new fliers. So I devised a test. If I picked up a fast bird, chuckler’s too, and it flapped its wings frantically, I gently threw it over the divider fence, whose door could not be opened due to a small crowd of grower fans. I only had one rock. He had a good flap, thus was the birth of this flying test idea of mine.
    Unfortunately, the summerlike weather has left us after some severe thunder storms came through. It may be necessary to take some of the youngins back to the brooder cage for more florescent tanning if the cool weather for a time.

  9. Ray says:

    I’m enjoying this series. I have 3 batches of chicks at the moment. The oldest are 2 months old. They are 15 silver grey Dorking pullets and 11 feather-legged, Cuckoo Marans, two of which are roosters, Butch and Sundance. There were 15 Marans, but, due to this reason or that, four have moved on to the Great Brooder in the Sky. I’d say they are about half they’re adult size right now. The Dorkings are gorgeous with they’re rust-colored breast feathers. Butch and Sundance are a tad bigger than the pullets, and they are always at the front of the herd come feeding time. I think they already have their harems sorted out, too.
    Over the last week, I’ve noticed some of their “voices” are changing. Some of them aren’t cheeping anymore. It’s more of a raspy cluck. They sound like they need a lozenge. Also, they’re kept inside a portable electric fence, which they are just small enough to squeeeeeeeeeze through and follow me as I go to fill up their feed trays. As much as they eat, I don’t think that’ll last much longer.
    The second batch is 2 Delaware pullets and a Dominiker pullet. They are 1 month old and are replacements for the lost Marans. They aren’t scared of anything, especially the Dominiker. They were slaying any insect that flew into their little brooder box as soon as they arrived. There were 3 Delawares, but my mom’s new puppy taste-tested one of them 2 days ago. Which leads me to the newest batch.
    Three Americanas will, hopefully, be the last round of chicks for this year. I wanted to end up with 30 pullets total. I figured some green and blue eggs would add a little variety once the egg-laying mode of this little adventure has been achieved.
    If anyone has any advice about introducing the batches to one another, i.e. when and how, I’d appreciate any wisdom offered.

    • Robbie Huber says:

      Start saying I LOVE U, as much as U can! Your roos are becoming “teenagers”! They may (my roos all started this) squeak like a “RUSTY HINGE,” then “it” becomes both: EEERRReerrr(crow) & I LOVE U!!! PRICELESS!! (even at : 3:00 am LOL :-) Robbie

  10. Julie Molloy says:

    My baby chicks were born on February 26th and arrived on February 28th, after which they spent about a month and a half in the basement and another few weeks in a stall in the barn before moving outside to the “big coop” with the older flock of chickens, where they quickly became acclimated to being in the “great outdoors” and free foraging in the yard and garden, looking for bugs and other chicken “delicacies.” They have quickly acclimated and integrated into the flock and are still practicing their flying skills! I got 5 each of: Light Brahmas, Partridge Rocks, Silver Speckled Hamburgs, New Hampshire Reds, and Red Leghorns. It is so much fun to watch them grow and to see their plumage change!

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