Week Old Chicks
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Wednesday, 06 July 2011 17:14

Our oldest chicks are 1 week old today and they are growing fast! Beautiful birds, too. A friend said she thinks they look like griffins: noble and handsome. I love their markings - the white around the eyes and soft, downy bums.

 

Here are my sweet feathered friends at 2 days old.

chicks - 2 days old

They lie together to stay warm, and if the termperature is just right under the heat lamp, they lie side by side. "Chicks that are warm and cozy wander freely throughout the brooding area, emit musical sounds of contentment, and sleep side-by-side to create the appearance of a plush down carpet" (Damerow 225). By this definition, our temperature is juuusstt right. I sit in my office, 2 rooms away and listen to them chirp contentedly. It melts my heart.

You can see their backs rise and fall as they sleep, face down in the pine bedding. Then they're up again moments later, chirping and testing out their new legs. They began to do a leg stretch on Day 2 which involves them sending one leg back. The Earthy Cowboy says they are stretching out their little muscles after being tucked inside the egg. They will grow quickly, we know, so perhaps this stretch is part of the fast muscle growth that must begin immediately after hatching.

Bird legs in the air

This little fluffball needed to stretch both legs simultaneously and did so while she napped. It's nearly the cutest thing I've ever seen.

 

3 days old - still sleeping a lot, but now practicing some light running back and forth. Damn cute.

chicks 3 days old

This little lady has been my favorite from the start. She's a gorgeous bird. More white than her box mates, very round and really cute!

my fave

A ball of down and sweetness. These little creatures are such a gift!

Sleeping 3 days old

Really? Are you really that stinkin' cute?

From a cardboard box, we created a "brooder guard" inside the brooding box (where they'll live until 6 weeks old). The guard eliminates drafts for young chicks, and keeps them contained in a smaller space until they are big enough to run around the brooder box. "A chick's body has little by way of temperature control until the bird is about 20 days old" (Damerow 224). We fashioned the brooder box out of plastic mesh, greenhouse plastic ("solaroof") and zip ties, all attached to the bottom my dining room table! How's that for DIY?

3 day old chicks in the box

5 days old - starting to get the slightest trace of real wing feathers, beautiful!

chicks 5 days old

Look at my girl! The markings on her face are graceful and sweet. She's very round, fluffy and downright adorable. Almost like a baby blue bird.

Fave on Day 530

The leg stretch, butt peck all in one!

Leg stretch day 5

Are you my mommy?

day 5 cuteness

 

And today, 7 days old. The oldest ones are now one week old and they are running, jumping, and have started to grow small tail feathers, and adult wing feathers. It took them 5-6 days to get through about a quart of feed, and the 2nd time I refilled the container, they finished it in a day! It's on now!

Day 7 racing

Aren't they beautiful?

7 day old fluffball

day 7 birds

Meet my little runt. I called her Hunchie at first because she was hunched over, couldn't hold her head up, and her back seemed twisted from a lengthy stay in her egg. She stayed in her shell for 3 days after pipping, incessantly crying. I was patient, but realized just in time that her membrane had hardened and she couldn't break free. I put a warm, dampened papertowel over the cracked egg, dripped water around the hole, and as gently as I could, and against all advice of chicken farmers, I helped her hatch. She took several days to gain strength, but she's eating and drinking frequently, running around and getting trampled by her older friends, but she's happy and free. I hope she's a pullet so we can keep her. Since we can only have 1 rooster, we'll have to pick the healthiest and strongest one. I've got a real soft spot in my heart for this one, though. Now I call her Lucky #13. She's our youngest and 13th chick.

Lucky #13

She's still a little shaky on her feet, but is first in line to eat and drink, and likes to sleep standing up. She just started doing the leg stretch, and you can make out signs of adult feathers. She's small enough to fit under the legs of the oldest chicks!  She's not as handsome as her box mates, but remember the ugly duckling story?

Runt 7 days old

All in all, this has been an incredible experience; however, we were really disappointed with our hatch rate - only 50%, and 9 of the 13 that didn't hatch looked infertile when we candled them - no sign of a creature at all. We're new at this hatching thing, so we aren't really sure what caused such a poor hatch rate - old mother hens? Too many days before incubation? I love my 13, but unless most of them are pullets (young hens), we will not have a brood anywhere near the size we want (12 hens). Worst case scenario, we end up with only 2-3 hens, and we'll just have to hatch our own eggs once the girls start laying. I'm hoping for the best!

Sweet 5 day old birds

In the meantime, I get to hang out with these marvelous creatures, and feel proud of our first hatch!

 

Check out our videos of the chicks here: http://www.youtube.com/user/calliopealexandria