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Chapter Six, Weeks Five and Six
Sorry the blog didn't get published weekly but things got very busy.
During Week 5 the chickens continue to grow at a rapid pace. They graduate on to the larger trough size feeders and 4 large waterers. They have decreased the weeds in their pen significantly. They continue to graze on the weeds as the time passes and they grow hungry at night since they aren't fed more processed feeds at night. We have been supplementing their food supply at night with bread and milk, and fruits and scraps.
We get produce that has gotten overripe and can be used for livestock feed. Cantaloupe should make for some very sweet meat! We always try to keep them happy and entertained for their short life. There is no reason they can't live a sweet life too.
During the fifth and sixth week the chickens develop fast and it becomes quite clear the roosters and the hens and they are able to enjoy shade, and weeds and soil. The recent rains have not kept them from venturing out into their yard and becoming quite muddy as well even though they could stay inside if they wanted. They are just being Chickens.
Chapter 5, Week 4
We passed week 4 with the loss of a second bird. I failed to mention losing a chick during week 2 to an unknown cause. This week we had to euthanize a bird that developed leg problems and couldn't walk. These losses happen and though I have tried many times to nurse these types of birds thru this problem, they never have gotten better or survived to grow any further and the condition must be painful. So we did not let this one suffer.
As you can see we have moved on a step further in bringing in the larger wooden troughs. This gives me a place to feed many birds fast and keep them busy while I fill the other feeders. These guys are chilling in the nice shade provided by the tall weeds.
The wooden trough is homemade and provides a large feeding space while still discouraging them from standing in it. The center rod can roll so they lose their balance, keeping them out of the feed.
During the heat of the day they enjoy the shade and cool water inside their shed. The flaps that open out give even more shade.
Chapter 4, Week 3-- Be a chicken!
Happy Day! We moved OUTSIDE!
At three weeks old they had enough feathers to move outside to the open shed and much larger pen with dirt and weeds to enjoy! The yard is 24ft x 24ft square. This gives them a lot of sun, soil, and weeds to enjoy.
Learning to be chickens they are dusting in the nice fresh dirt! They are still unsure about having so much space. So they are staying close to the shed.
One little man found him a nice weedy place in the shade. It will be so much nicer to take care of them. They are using the 5 larger, trough like feeders and now have three of the larger waterers (2 -3 gallon and 1-5 gallon one). We may add one more waterer as time goes on. I also placed the four 1 gallon waterers around the yard so they don't get away from the shed and over heat before they learn how to get back and forth.
Chapter three. Growing, Growing, Growing
Half way thru week two we have had to upgrade to the larger feeders. It makes feeding and taking care of them faster as well as they can spread out more as they are growing in leaps and bounds. I also cleaned them again and they are enjoying the fresh bedding.
We added a larger 3 gallon waterer as well since they are drinking and eating so much. We keep the one gallon waterers out too so they don't have to go to far to find water anywhere in the room. During the day I turn the brooder lights off as well but with our cooler afternoons and storms I make sure they are on for them at night. The room stays plenty warm during the day for them. Despite the excellent care they are getting we did lose a chick to an unknown cause. But the other 103 are doing fine.
And yet others like this little girl are almost fully feathered out. With luck by the end of week three we can look at moving them outside if they are big enough and feathered enough to go without the brooder. They have to be bigger than the chain link fence and able to sleep together at night for warmth in the shed without brooder lights. The unusual weather may be a challenge but we can cope.
Entering Week Two with a good cleaning and still 104 strong. The chicks were having fun being wild and crazy kids today as I had to clean with them in there. We do half the room. Re-bed that half. Move the food and water and clean the second half closer to the door. They ran about like crazy on their own and without being harassed in any way. They played on the mountain and had fights with each other and my feet. They are growing so fast, they naturally rest on their bellies to eat. It's been warm enough to turn the brooder lights off during the day saving energy if I'm home to warm them up if it storms.
They are feathering out on their wings and tails already and some on the chest and shoulders. Eat, eat, eat. Its the driving force in their lives but they are living and picking on each other and working the dominance angle of who gets the best spots. In short being Chickeny... as suggested like what Joel says being Piggy...
The smell and mess has almost driven out the cuteness but then they look at you. They are what they are, its what they do, and we appreciate all they do for us. I will make sure they are happy and healthy, right up until they aren't. We Honor Them the whole way.
As you may recall I started this soon to be ongoing blog with a photo of all the setup we had done for the arrival of our meat chickens. But as FARM FATE would have it the plan was changed. The hatchery wasThey look yellow and white but they are all yellow.
unable to mail us the chicks on the scheduled date because of extreme heat in
Nebraska and had already had to furnish replacements for some orders that didn't
survive the shipping. Thus causing the next problem. They had to sell our chicks and we had to wait till they had fresh day old chicks so they can be shipped. A chick has a portion of the yolk left inside it's stomach when it hatches to provide food and liquid for the chick till it learns how to find food and water usually 2-3 days worth. That's how they are able to be shipped. We waited, and waited while having already set dates for the planned butchering class....
One week later we were able to have them sent and they arrived safe and sound! 104 sweet little yellow puffs of feathers. Snuggled up warm and safe in their shipping box. It was only 68' outside when I picked them up so they were happy to snuggle. Central Hatchery called us just as soon as they had a chance to collect enough chicks and ship them.Good Water! Nebraska's HOT!
Once they have been counted each chick is removed from the box and given a drink. First and foremost to be sure EACH chick gets some hydration started, so it knows what the waterer is and it is given a health check. Feet, bottoms for pasty butt, and anything else note worthy. You may have noticed I use newspaper on the floors starting out.What's This? Having some food.
That is to prevent a deadly condition known as pasty butt. Where the manure and feathers stick to their bottoms making it impossible to GO. This is caused by eating wood shavings. We introduce the chicks to food and water and for a few days they will stay on the papers. Then we can introduce wood shavings without them eating to many of them and becoming sick. A chicks mother usually introduces them to food and water.Lots to explore
This group of 104 are healthy and active and chasing flies and bugs, and each other. Their trip seems to have been a good one and we will keep you posted on their progress. You are welcome to visit them and take a tour. Preparations on their next pen are underway. They move outside in 3-4 weeks.
After a long day's work the stage is set!
The meat birds will be here tomorrow or Friday. We are set and ready. I will attempt to blog out the experience with photos too leading right up to our Chicken Processing Class.
Each week or even few days will show extreme changes in the chicks up until they are grown.
I am always completely business when it comes to raising food and I try to honor the animal in all ways, in all their care and treatment until they complete their mission. They are well cared for and live a full life. See our classes page for the details of the class for Chicken Processing! We are ready!