So here is the weekly update on the chicks! This week I am wanting to share with you how we go about cleaning the cage and prepping the older hens that more are coming. But first, lets talk about this picture. The chick on the left is an Americana chick. When she is about 6 months old, she will be giving us some really pretty blue/green/olive colored eggs. The chicken on the right is a Cornish Cross. Remember, they are the same age. No, we do not inject it with hormones or chemicals to make it big. They are all kept together and fed and raised the same way. Cornish Cross have been selected and bred to be a fast growing, larger chicken. I am going to keep you up to date on the size difference and how much faster the Cornish Cross chickens grow.
Ok, now onto bigger and better things. Cleaning the chick box. We usually clean the box about 2 times a week. The first step in this adventure is gathering the chicks. This can be an entertaining chore. They usually run all over the box as we try to catch them. We count them as we place them in the holding box. I use a laundry basket because I can hose it down and bleach it after I am finished using it. We have lost 2 chicks since we first got our order. That will happen. It isn’t something we did. Sometimes the weaker just cant make it. So we are down to 31 chicks right now. Why do we count our chickens? Not so much at this age, but when they get bigger and start flying, we like to make sure none have flown the coop! We also do a quick check to make sure we don’t have any chicks with bloody sores or icky eyes or pasty butts. Ahh….the life of a chicken farm is a glorious one.
To prepare the older chicks, we empty the box into the coop. There are several reasons we do this. 1- The bedding is all compostable. The chickens will scratch through it and help it decompose. 2-The smell of the younger chicks is getting introduced to the hens. This helps them realize that change is coming. 3-The hens will go through the bedding and eat any left over food that the chicks have left behind.
We use this bedding. We get it from Rural King. It really absorbs and it helps with the smell. All it is is ground up corn cob. It wont hurt the chicks and it won’t smell up the house like wood chips would. We have tried several different methods (straw, newspaper, wood chips) but this has been our favorite so far.
And then the chicks go back in. We, then, clean up the laundry basket and scrub our hands and arms. It is always very important, that when you are done messing with the chicks and the food/water dishes, wash wash wash! Chickens carry a bunch of germs that aren’t good for humans. It is important to keep the chicks in clean dry bedding.