I wanted to add to our flock of laying hens this year. We have 23. Its actually QUITE irritating; even when they are laying at their fullest potential, I will ALWAYS be 1 egg short of 2 dozen. Ugh.
So, I decided to get a few more to up my egg numbers, and ordered a dozen Araucana chicks. They are a heritage breed chicken, which lays a BLUE egg…. Oooo!
The farmer built them a brooder box, and we set it up in our pump house, the night before they arrived.
You want an insulated, draft-free room for the little things, as they are SO small, that catching cold can wipe out all your chicks. Twenty-four hour access to food and clean water is also a must! Bedding is important too; you want something that soaks up waste, but also provides traction for their delicate feet. We like to use pine shavings. And don’t forget to change the bedding frequently to maintain a healthy flock. Lastly, you’ll need a heat lamp & thermometer to monitor that the temperature stays between 90-95˚F, for the 1st week, and then decrease it by 5˚F, every week, until they no longer need heat, and are able to go outside (about 8-10 weeks old).
In the morning, before I picked them up, I went into the pump house to check that the temperature had risen. But, Surprise! It hadn’t. So, we scrambled, and got this one together in the house at the last minute.
It actually worked out great! That night we had realized that they were going to be a lot more maintenance than we thought; they eat a TON, and they also like to kick bedding & poop into their water and feed. Having them in the house means we can keep an eye on them… and they’re SO cute too!! We’ve even caught them flying up on top of their feeder, plotting their escape!
Two days in, I was cleaning the brooder box, and inspecting all the chicks. One thing to look for is pasty bum. (Yes! That’s really what it’s called!) It’s when the bowels start to work; they can get a little poop stuck on their vents. This needs to be cleaned off with warm water so it doesn’t cause a back up in the system!
I also like to check their beaks & feet to make sure they are growing correctly. I DID notice one chick with a purple floppy foot. Her toes were curled, and she was having trouble walking. It seemed a little bruised too, maybe even some nerve damage. I checked the Internet, took the advice of the Chicken Chick, made her a splint, and hoped for the best.
A few days later, we took off the splint…
Sadly, we think she may loose her foot. But, we are going to keep her anyway! She doesn’t seem like she is in pain; although she is smaller than the others, she is still getting bigger and stronger, and it doesn’t seem to hold her back too much. She’s not getting picked on either, which can happen when there’s a weaker bird in the flock. Instead, she is constantly cuddling with one of the little yellow ones… Awe!
And she may turn out to be a great layer, after all!