The Flock Begins
We spent a rainy Saturday picking up our little backyard flock from the hatchery. The hens were packed with a warming gel pack with their bedding and handled the 2 1/2 hour return journey well. No overt signs of stress and no pasty butt.
They spent there first seven days on doggie piddle pads. The brooder has a one inch layer of sand in the bottom and we put all the pads in at the same time layered. Morning chores were simplified by just pulling out the soiled pads and exposing the next clean layer. By day seven part of the brooder was exposing the sand layer.
Some things must be innate because the chicks started dust bathing and scratching the minute the sand was exposed. Now they are on sand. They dust bathe, scratch, and eat the grit. It seems to help keep talons and beaks trim. We noticed a social grooming habit. Sometimes one hen will pick at the back of one that is dust bathing. We do clean up with a kitty litter scoop.
It is now three weeks in. We have at least 3 courses of wing feathers, tail feathers, shoulder and back feathers, and chest feathers. The hens spend a lot of time grooming and arranging their plumage. We introduced roost bars that are well used. We put a wire cover over the coop but we still had one escape during clean up chores.
It is still a little cool outside so we are hoping they can stay in the brooder another 2-3 weeks. Next week we will drop the temperature to 70-75 degrees. They are growing so fast space may be the deciding factor.