Archive for July, 2010

Baby chicks don’t do much besides eat, drink, sleep, exercise, and eliminate waste. We call them “Peepers and Poopers” during this phase of their lives.

We are very impressed with their foraging abilities. Even at 2 days old they were eating bugs. They’ve cleaned out all of the ants in their pen. Bob and I have become good bug hunters 🙂 We like to offer them little taste treats.

YES, they do eat ticks. Yippee! Bob found a teeny tiny one crawling on his arm and held it out on the tip of his finger for them. One peck… no more tick!

Here’s a video of them in their pen. Hope you like it!


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We have new baby chicks! We ordered a straight run of Speckled Sussex chickens. What is a straight run, you ask? Straight run means the baby chickens were boxed up at the hatchery without being sorted by sex. Although there’s no guarantee of how many males and female chickens you’ll receive it usually averages about 50 percent of each sex.  We ordered 25 chicks but it’s not uncommon for the hatchery to send an extra hatchling — kind of like a baker’s dozen for chickens 🙂

Boxed Speckled Sussex chicks from Meyer Hatchery.

Boxed Speckled Sussex chicks from Meyer Hatchery.

A chicken flock is an important step towards our goal of self-sufficiency. The breed we decided to purchase are called Speckled Sussex. Aren’t they cute? As adults they’ll have rich mahogany colored plumage with dark, white tipped feathers.

Boxed Speckled Sussex chicks from Meyer Hatchery.

Boxed Speckled Sussex chicks from Meyer Hatchery.

Speckled Sussex are a good dual-purpose breed. Not only are they known for being good layers (light brown eggs) but they’ll also achieve a medium to heavy weight (approximately 6-7 pounds) making them good for butchering for the meat.

Speckled Sussex hens are also known for being good brooders which means they’ll sit on their eggs and hatch and raise a brood of chicks. Broodiness is something that has been bred out of many other breeds. Most folks who order straight runs plan to butcher and eat the roosters first. We will also eat the rooster first, but in our ongoing efforts to be self sufficient we will be watching the flock closely to select which rooster we want to keep with the flock. Yes… we will have to listen to him crow but…. he’ll  also  make more “free” chickens!

These chickens are excellent foragers. Yeah! Eat them bugs – hopefully they’ll eat the nasty ticks first! We’re currently feeding them a combination chick starter/grower feed. Eventually we’ll primarily be feeding them with the “low-cost” free range method of foraging with the occasional handful of scratch grain tossed in for good measure.

Some of you who are familiar with raising chicks may be wondering why we’re getting them in July instead of April. Baby chicks must be kept at 95 degrees day and night for the first week. You then lower the temperature by 5 degrees each week after that until it evens out to the average daily temperature. Because we’re living off the power grid, we didn’t have the electricity required to keep the chicks warm enough in early Spring.

Obviously with the hot weather we’re having this Summer keeping them warm enough during the day is no problem. When the sun goes down and they’re ready to go to sleep we put them in a cardboard box and set them in the tipi. Although the tipi eventually drops below the required temperature, the box keeps them insulated and draft free. The chicks like to huddle up for sleeping and that keeps them warm too.

Of course… we introduced Blaze to the newest additions to the homestead! She’s doing pretty well with them… so far!

rat terrier with baby chicks

We’ll keep you updated on them!

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