Thursday, 26 July 2012

Chickywicks Day 21

At about 2 weeks old, chicks start to get interested in things.  Their surroundings,  each other, us.  From then on, they get very active, and spend their time jumping on and off the feeders, the electric hen, etc;  they try and fly a bit.     

This is the point where we like to let them out on the grass for a few minutes a day, under close supervision.   This hasn't been possible at all because it's been so wet. Even when it hasn't been raining, the ground has been damp and cold.  

The rain finally took a break last Friday. The sun shone.   the ground was still too damp to risk putting the chicks on it.  By Sunday, the ground was dry enough and warm enough for us to let the chicks have their first taste of "outside".

We made up a temporary pen 1m x 1m with bits of Cube run,  and ferried them out.  I also put a seed tray containing earth in with them, as I'd seen a couple of them trying to dustbathe in the Aubiose in their brooder pen.

They had a whale of a time.  We sat outside watching them, making sure they were OK.  We brought them in after half an hour, as we didn't want to overload them on their first day.  

On Monday and Tuesday, DH put them out for an hour each afternoon.. As he couldn't stay with them, and I was away, he increased the size of the pen to 2m x 1m, and put a shade at one end.

Yesterday, we let them out for about 4 hours.  I'm so pleased that the weather has stayed so hot and dry and that this is possible. It's so much more fun for the chicks, and it really helps them develop.

Having them outside makes it easier to clean out the brooder, which needs doing every two days. 

Last night we left the lamp off overnight. We'd been checking the evening temperatures, and last night was the first time we were happy to do that.  The chicks still had the electric hen, so could stay warm.

 In the mornings, we are now opening the shed door and blocking the entrance wth close-boarded trellis.  This lets extra light (there is a window as well)  and air in to the shed, and helps the chicks get acclimatised to outside noise. 

Chicks are like Hens in that they learn the habits that suit them very quickly.  Now, when we go into the shed, the chicks get very excited, presumably expecting that they will be scooped up and taken outside.  It reminds me of Toy Story, with the aliens in the toy-grabber machine. 

At the moment we're sticking with tme out in the afternoons only.  In a day or two - weather permitting -  we'll put the Go into the Run (with a heat pad or the hen in the nestbox area) and gradually increase the length of time we let them stay out for.

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