Our lovely little mystery chicks have been growing and changing! At about 2 weeks of age, they outgrew their little brooder set-up in our mudroom. You’ll know when they are ready for bigger and better things! I knew it was time when my 5 year old came running in the kitchen to find me! With excitement, she quickly told me that one of the chicks had FLOWN out of the brooder! Time to go outside!
The chicks still did not have all their feathers yet, so they spent the next couple of weeks in a larger brooder in our garden shed. It has more space to roam, but still has a heat lamp for the cold nights. Weather can be unpredictable, so it is always good to have a couple of options for where to put your chicks.
Near the end of the 4th week, I let them experience an even bigger house upgrade. They are now in the chicken tractor! If you’ve read any of my past posts, you more than likely have seen our trusty ole chicken tractor. It has been with us for years! Cheap, hardy, light enough to move, but not exactly pretty to look at, it has been used so many times!
The chicken tractor is essentially a coop on wheels. The floor is open to the ground, so chicks can peck and look for morsels. The total ground space measures about 8 feet by 8 feet. The sides are made halfway up with a wooden frame and chicken wire. The top section is made with PVC hoops and a very unglamorous brown tarp. The chicks could care less about the way it looks. They hop, flutter, and chase each other around in what I can only describe as pure bliss!
- Have a chicken tractor! When chicks are too old to be in the brooder, but too small to be in the coop with the old ladies, it can be hard to know where to put them. A chicken tractor can be designed a million different ways, but is always serves its purpose. You’ll use it over and over! We have used ours for chicks, turkeys, baby goats, etc.
- Give those chicks some greens! Spring is here! Try hand picking some henbit or dead nettle from the yard for them. Both have purple flowers and are nutritious for chickens!
- Get a large waterer. At this stage in the game, I don’t want to have to change the chicks’ water daily. I highly recommend investing in a large, 3 gallon waterer. Like the chicken tractor, you’ll use it again and again!
The chicks are still eating chick crumble, but with some added grass and insects. They truly LOVE being outside! After school, my daughter loves to sit inside the tractor with them. She catches them and puts them on the perch together, all in a line. It’s surprising to me how they tolerate her little hands always coming at them! I think they will be quite tame, friendly chickens!
They are mostly fully feathered by the end of the 4th week, and my breed suspicions are changing!
- Missy- The only white chick in the bunch is Missy. As her wing feathers have come in, she is getting slivers of black! She is quite a big chick, and I am so far stumped on what she is!
- Starling- Starling is my daughter’s favorite out of all the chicks. She is a jet black chick, even her beak, feet, and skin are all black. She’s started getting tiny flashes of red on the edging of her neck feathers. What gives Starling’s breed away are her extra toes! She must be a Mystic Onyx! Mystic Onyx are a breed unique only to Hoover’s Hatchery. They contain Silkie lineage, so often have the black skin and extra toes.
- Rose- Rose is one of three, almost identical “chipmunk” brown chicks in our mix. At first I thought Rose would be a Welsummer hen, but this last week, she has sprung a couple of fuzzy head feathers! The feathers stick straight up on her little head. This tells me she is most likely a Starlight Green Egger. Starlight Green Eggers are also a breed unique to Hoover’s. They are mixed with Welsummers, but produce a green instead of brown speckled egg.
- Last is Miss Dotty! Dotty has changed the most! She was once a black chick with a white dot on her head. She has since changed into a barred pattern. She has a yellow beak, green eyes, and yellow/gray feet. Whether she is a Dominique, Barred Rock, or even a Cuckoo Maran, she is a sweet, even tempered chick and my personal favorite!