Thursday, 22 April 2010

Handing it to them

We've spent a lot of time over the last few days helping the chicks to become more and more hand-tame.    They were already used to being pucked up and transported from their brooder to the Eglu and back each day, but we want them to associate being handled with good things.

So, we've been picking them up a lot, which also gives us an opportunity to check them over and to second-guess whether they are male or female.    We escalated this, starting by offering them growers pellets (they are still on chick crumb in their feeders) on the palm of my hand.

They are all now very happy to crowd around my upturned palm and peck every last pellet. And the rings on my hand.  And my nails.  And my sleeves.     This is great, and we'll continue with this.

I've also taken to picking one or other of them out of the crowd at random, and offering them pellets from my hand.  Initially they wouldn't eat while I was holding them, but now at least three of them are happy to do so.  I'll continue with this, increasing the frequency, so that they are all used to it by the time they go to their new home.

They're now outside permanently, snug in the Eglu.  We've got the heated pad available so if the night is cold we can slip that in, but we've been really lucky with the weather.  The brooder pen has been dismantled, and we've scrubbed everything ready for disinfecting... our next chicks are due to start hatching in the middle of next week!

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