Our chicks are currently 1.5 months old and loving their lives outside!
They are permanently outdoors 24/7, living in their chicken tractor. The bottom floor space of the tractor is 8’x8’. This is plenty of space for 7 teenage chicks, but after one whole day, they are ready to be moved onto fresh grass.
Having them in a movable tractor works amazingly well! Each morning I quickly check on them, move the tractor, and give them about 2 cups of crumble. The feeder is hung on a rope, so it doesn’t touch the ground, but instead hovers about 5 inches from the ground. This is very important to keep ants out of the feed. I prefer just giving them small amounts of feed daily, instead of filling the feeder up. That way, there isn’t any leftover crumble leftover for nighttime rodents! I use a large, 3 gallon waterer, so it doesn’t need to be filled daily, just checked.
Moving the tractor a everyday gives them a clean, fresh place to explore. It also fertilizes the soil. Here at our little hobby farm, we allow native grasses and plants to grow on our lawn. Don’t get me wrong, I love the look of a freshly cut yard, and we do cut our grass weekly. However, just having Bermuda grass isn’t beneficial to our animals and wildlife. We allow for “weeds” like clover, hen bit, dead nettle, and wild onions. Our chicks love plucking the tops off new grass and this is definitely their favorite treat!
Time for Treats! At this age, the chicks are now old enough to eat and enjoy table scraps! Imagine the amount of biodegradable waste we can give to our chickens, instead of tossing it in the trash! After grocery shopping every week, I love to clean out the fridge. This is the best day of the week for my farmyard babies! Leftover cooked rice, old bread, old fruit, and leftover cooked beans are always on the menu.
Expand Upwards! It’s very tempting to let the chicks out of the tractor on a bright, sunny day. In fact, I did let them out one day recently. It was literally 2 minutes later that my yard rooster, Chimp, sounded a hawk alarm! A swift Cooper’s hawk darted through the air space right above the chicks! Immediately, the chicks were locked right back up. At this age and size, they are the perfect prey for hawks. One way you can bust their boredom is by adding a perch! Find a thick branch and rest it in a corner of the tractor. A bigger perch is more comfortable for roosting and they’ll love this new toy!
At this age, the chicks are almost totally covered in feathers, instead of down. They may still change colors a little, but now I can almost 100% assess their breeds!
Missy- she is still a mystery to me- what do you guys think?
Starling- Mystic Onyx
Rose- Olive Egger
Dotty- Cuckoo Maran
There will be a time coming when they WILL be ready to completely free range! This is a tricky transitional time, as they move from tractor to coop. Check back in 2 weeks to keep following their story!