Cheep, cheep :) – Raising chicks for the first time

Our baby guinea fowl, the keets, have grown up and moved out of home, relocating to their very own chicken tractor.  They’re looking quite the adolescents these days, hanging out in their own place, becoming more self-sufficient and looking more like adult guinea fowl by the minute.  Here are the guinea teens owning the perch in their new home:

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Pearl-pied guinea fowl – too big for the brooder and now in their own chicken tractor before they’re big enough to free range.

 

With the guineas on their way to adulthood and the brooder vacant, what better time for a few new chicks?  We’ve already got three commercial Isa Brown hens (bought as point-of-lay pullets, around twenty weeks old), but have been keen to try our hand at raising our own heritage breed chicks.  As a commercial egg-laying breed, Isa Brown hens have a very short average lifespan of only 2 – 3 years (all that egg-laying takes its toll).  By contrast, heritage breeds are reputed to have lifespans more than double the commercial hybrids, so hopefully they’ll be a longer term addition to the farm.

I’d picked up a business card for a local breeder at the feed store and hubby gave her a call.  Did she possibly have any chicks?  No such luck.  Apparently it’s the wrong time of year for chicks.  However she did have some older hens.  Hubby promised I’d go visit and have a look.  Ringing back for an address, I discussed the chick issue with the breeder a bit further.  She highlighted the benefits of point-of-lay birds versus chicks (no heat lamp required, easier care, eggs sooner, no roosters, etc.) but I was pretty adamant that we’d already done the point of lay thing and it was time to up the ante and explore the chick option.  The breeder, possibly realising I wasn’t going to budge and accept an older hen (unusual for me as I’m usually a complete push over) said actually she did have some chicks available – Wyandottes (my favourite breed).  A quick stop at the pet store for a ceramic heat lamp (strangely not that expensive), medicated chick crumble (cheap as…chicken feed!) and I was there.

When I turned up I was a little dismayed to find the chicks looking not quite as uniform in appearance as I expected.  I may not be a chicken expert, but when some of the chicks are yellow and some are black, some have fluffy feet and some do not, I tend to suspect that maybe they’re not all exactly the same pure breed.  Hmmm….but thinking it over, in the end I decided it didn’t really matter.  The kids would love caring for chicks regardless of breed.

So here they are in all their fluffy cheeping cuteness:

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4 thoughts on “Cheep, cheep :) – Raising chicks for the first time

  1. Cute! What an exciting adventure! I will watch and learn from you. We’re getting closer to delving into chick-raising from fertilised eggs. Still trying to decide what breeds to go for this time. Soon…
    -Twiglet

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    1. That’s exciting news :). I would’ve loved to raise from fertilised eggs but trying to find them around here is a challenge. You can buy mail order ones but they’re pretty pricey with not much guarantee of success given the distance they have to travel to get here. Looking forward to hearing which breed you choose – decisions, decisions! 🙂

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  2. Aww! So CUTE!!! I miss my baby chicks!!! I will be getting a few more soon. : )

    I think that they are just little, fluffy bundles or happiness!!! Have you decided on what you are going to call them by?

    -Bella

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