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Chicks Just Arrived

 
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2 hours ago the Post Office called, and we got them home an hour ago. It's an urban situation--they are in my bathtub. So...do I leave the bathroom light on during the day, and turn it off at night, or just leave it off whenever we are not visiting them?

I want to get their biorhythms off to a good start and all!
 
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Also, do I need to go buy grit today? How do I "serve" it to them?
 
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Congrats on your chicks!

I would recommend following roughly the regular day and night cycle. From my understanding, chickens have poor night vision and might not feel as safe.

Chick starter feed had the grit already added. I would not add grit unless you are feeding them something that is not a starter feed. Once they get some size and you want to feed 'treats' then I would add a small dish in with some grit. Be warned, they will make a mess of it. My first batch decided it made a great potty spot in the first ten minutes!

I don't want to be pushy but... Baby chicks are cute and if you mention them you should have to pay a photo tax! Show us the peepers if you can!
 
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Timothy Norton wrote:I don't want to be pushy but... Baby chicks are cute and if you mention them you should have to pay a photo tax! Show us the peepers if you can!


Confirmed!
I don't think my flock needs to grow this year but I'm still missing baby chick cuteness.
 
Rachel Lindsay
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Timothy Norton wrote:Baby chicks are cute and if you mention them you should have to pay a photo tax! Show us the peepers if you can!



Payment of tax here!

(I wish that the catalog included insets of what the chicks look like so we can tell which breed is which!)
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[Thumbnail for Chick-List-Copy.png]
 
Rachel Lindsay
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By the way, that brown one in the middle seems to be the Bielefelder, an "endangered" German chicken variety. It's certainly being the bossy big sister type, even on day #1, constantly chasing and pecking everyone else. I wonder if she will always be like that?

I also am of mostly-German descent, and a bossy oldest sister, so I feel for her. Gotta keep all the cheepy chaos controlled!
 
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Yes, they absolutely need light during the day.

How are you keeping them warm?

A box upside down with some entrances cut into it, so they have a dark place to nap isn't a bad idea - mom raised chicks tuck under mom during nap time.

Have you seen them eat and drink?

Enjoy!
 
Timothy Norton
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I have a Beilefelder and she is my favorite big ole football shaped chicken. Absolute sweethearts. I hope you take delight in how the colors/feathers change as they grow in size. It is a beautiful thing.

I'm so excited for you! This will be a fun journey for you.
 
Rachel Lindsay
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Jay Angler wrote: How are you keeping them warm?



That black thing in the photo that they are huddled against is one of two radiant heaters we've got in there. It seems to be working very well, making a pocket of warmth in the middle of the bathtub where they are.

Jay Angler wrote: Have you seen them eat and drink?


Yes, we dipped their beaks in (Justin Rhodes' recipe of) "Magic Water" as soon as they arrived, and they have been drinking it all day as well as eating their chick crumbles just fine.

....and being loud. We're gonna have to block under our bedroom doors with a towel at night so we can sleep, ha!
 
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Rachel Lindsay wrote:....and being loud. We're gonna have to block under our bedroom doors with a towel at night so we can sleep, ha!

Loud is not such a good thing depending on the quality of the noise. Loud with a harsh edge to it usually means that something's wrong. They're most likely either too cold, or scared.  Putting something over the tub to trap the warmth and make it seem less like they're out in the open may help - like the box idea I mentioned above. A thermometer near them should be reading about 92F when they're needing nap time for at least the first 5 days. The area they're running around in eating and drinking doesn't have to read quite that high, although it should be close because they don't have a mother to call them to nap time.

Lights out at night will signal sleep time, so they won't be silent, but they should be quieter. That said, quieter is relative  and some of us are light sleepers!
 
Rachel Lindsay
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Jay Angler wrote:Lights out at night will signal sleep time, so they won't be silent, but they should be quieter. That said, quieter is relative  and some of us are light sleepers!



They are very quiet now! So different than when we first brought them in and my husband had to sleep (he works nights, sleeps days). I hear them, but it's not too bad.
 
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There are online places where you can compare your chicks to known breeds and get a general idea of what you have and what they look like. Knowing the breed makeup is a great start.

Yes, the brooder plate (the radiant heater you have in there) needs to be on its side so they can press their backs up into "mom". If you can somehow, otherwise, create a way to trap heat, that would be fine, too, but they are too cold. Just from that picture.

The little chipmunk chick in the far corner is the Silver-Grey Dorking. I have two totes full of similar chicks in my kitchen. They're an awesome breed and I highly recommend everyone everywhere enjoy their 5-toed, quirky, broody selves.

The strawberry blonde chicks are your Red Stars. The assorted black chicks will be one of the black types and the black chick with a hair-do, right in front of the chipmunk Dorking will be the Polish. There are going to be little tells that will differentiate the other chicks from each other over time. You'll figure it out.

I don't know what Justin Rhodes' magic water contains, but as long as they're drinking it, it's fine. Make sure they have plenty of chick feed. Babies don't need grit for the same reason human babies don't need teeth. Unless you're feeding them something that requires grit, don't worry about it.
When you decide to offer grass clippings, grain, or random scraps of food, then you can sprinkle grit over the offering, like salt, or put a small container down with grit in it - like a jar lid - or just sprinkle it on top of their crumble. If you give them a lot of grit, they will eat it all and end up with very full, very solid crops.

You're off to a great start!
 
Rachel Lindsay
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Sadly we have lost one of the Polish chicks, and that little Dorking isn't doing well today at all... All the other ones have doubled in size and are very fun and frisky. I just hate it that they don't all make it to henhood.
 
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So sorry to hear, I lost one in my batch but that is just part of the process.

Beware of chicken math, before you know it you will have twelve new chicks to replace the one you lost.
 
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Timothy Norton wrote:Beware of chicken math...


Good thing I was never good at math, and that will be my excuse.
 
Kristine Keeney
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I'm so sorry you're having that kind of trouble. I've been hatching eggs for the first time and, while it's always sad to lose a couple of chicks that just don't seem to have the same immune system as their clutch mates, my heart hurts for the little cheepers who never quite make it out of the egg.

Dorkings are great and seem to have a natural resistance to some common chick problems, but they wilt in front of others. Chicks in general seem to be like that. It's a hard thing I have to relearn every year.

In defense of chicken math, if you know to expect a standard loss of about 5% of chicks, rough average, you know to plan to order a good 5-10% more chicks than you expect to need adult birds. And it's handy because you learn to start hedging around the expected loss to illness, predators, and other issues that happen when they make the move outside.

The first year of raising chicks is when you learn how to chicken.
The second year is when you figure out better guesses and get a bit more creative.

After all, if I need a laying flock of about 20 birds, and then whatever specialty birds I want to work with, that means I need about double that in chicks, I figure. You know, to get the best options and make sure I have all the bases covered for being able to choose my best representatives.

The older ones probably need to be retired and need their own space - for well-earned rest. They can help teach the newcomers, so they're still useful!

I've had people asking about colored eggs, so I need a couple of those breeds - to see how they do in my climate and maybe a couple extra so I have the extra birds in case of a mis-gendering accident (it's much easier to mix up a tiny male from a tiny female), and we'll guesstimate that happens about 5% of the time - it's a good round number and sounds scientific.

With no trouble and creative "mathing", you can easily justify needing just about any number of chicks. The look of complete innocence when someone challenges you on it is something you have to work out on your own.
 
Rachel Lindsay
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Eek! The chicks are starting to jump up on little boxes (of tea bags) that we put in there for them. It's been a week today since they hatched. I fear they will soon be hopping out of my bathtub. We will have to have an indoor middle phase scenario (TBD!) but when are they old enough to not need heaters anymore and can go outside in the coop?
 
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Yep - we have what we call a "chicken hospital" with a wooden frame covered with hardware cloth. So much depends on the exact situation. Temperature is key, and they will need warmth at night longer than warmth during the day, so they may be able to be allowed outside during the day, but will need to be crated at night either to just let their body heat keep them warm enough as a group, or something like a bottle of hot water standing in the crate to add a little extra heat.

If the weather is sunny and calm, they will find a sunny spot to nap in if they need it during the day. But when the birds have a chicken mom, I would see them all tucked in at night long after they were out and about most of the day.
 
Timothy Norton
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When their fluff is mostly feathers, is what I used to know if you are good to go.

Six weeks old can go out if the temps are don't drop below 50 or so.
 
Rachel Lindsay
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At one week old now these (12) chicks:
  • Drink a quart of water in 24 hours
  • Have begun trying to use their wings (flapping and such)
  • Play with each other
  • Take dust baths
  • Have different voices developing
  • Jump on and off things
  • They are so different than they were when they first arrived! They have figured out that they are birds and they are acting like mini-hens. Ha!

    P.S. Our Mystery Chick is going to be either a Buff Orpington or a White Leghorn, and almost certainly male.
     
    Kristine Keeney
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:At one week old now these (12) chicks:

  • Drink a quart of water in 24 hours
  • Have begun trying to use their wings (flapping and such)
  • Play with each other
  • Take dust baths
  • Have different voices developing
  • Jump on and off things
  • They are so different than they were when they first arrived! They have figured out that they are birds and they are acting like mini-hens. Ha!

    P.S. Our Mystery Chick is going to be either a Buff Orpington or a White Leghorn, and almost certainly male.


    Generally, though not always, a free chick will be a male very common breed - Leghorn roos are great for "frypan specials" but tend to be aggressive and bad-tempered (or at least in my experience).

    If they are dust bathing and practicing their flapping, they are moments away from hopping at each other (like adults do for a fight), all puffed up and  (ahem) hopping mad. You need some sort of cover over the tub, unless you have one already, or they'll quickly be running around their space and pooping on everything. Trust me. I spent some time getting chick poop off a gosling today. I can't imagine accidentally finding chick poop on the soap, though I'm sure they'd manage it.

    On the other hand, the trills, various cheeps, chirps, and chirrups are amazing. Happy chicks just sound happy and it's a heart gladdening sound. You know it's a beautiful world when there are happy chicks around.

    They will drink prodigious amounts of water and eat huge amounts of food. All that activity and growth has to come from somewhere and, as a good friend tells me - the job of a baby is to eat, grow, and poop.

    All things being equal, they are probably safe to go outside into a very well-constructed day pen when they have the majority of their feathers, the day is warm enough that you're comfortable in shorts, and the weather has no rain for the next few days. Chicks and mud are a Bad Combination.
    If you're asking when they can be moved outside permanently? That's more tricky.

    They need to have their first set of feathers.
    There needs to be a well-constructed pen that is chick-proof. If they *can* escape, they will escape, and catching the little fluffy-butts can be hard to do.
    There needs to be some sort of shelter that can keep the rain off of them and a way they can deal with mud without coating themselves in it.
    They need to have food and water available and, hopefully, fresh.
    It's better to keep them inside for an extra few days to make sure you don't lose them to a cool night, an errant predator, or whatever random event they seem destined to die by. It's okay. Have a cup of tea. You will make it through this.

    Once they are outside, check on them. Often. They will panic at weird things and there aren't any adult chickens for them to model behavior off. You will want to make sure they don't get a foot stuck somewhere inconvenient, or fall behind something they shouldn't have been messing with. It's okay to check on them every couple of hours until they roost for the night.
    Day 2 outside will be better for everyone.

    Before you know it, you'll be old hands at the whole chicken stuff. You'll get these guys settled and think about your next batch of chicks. Maybe raising them in the September to October window so they start laying immediately in the spring? It'll be fine and fun. You've got this.
     
    Kristine Keeney
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    I just realized that I never answered the question.
    4 to 8 weeks, depending on the breed and development of the chick is pretty much a minimum. So, at least 4 weeks, but plan on keeping them inside for 8. It's one of the reasons old chicken tenders are always complaining about a lack of space and a lack of brooding areas/containers.

    I brood in large plastic totes with hardware cloth lids in my kitchen. It means the chicks can get used to me and my husband moving about, we check on them frequently, and their happy/unhappy noises are hard to miss. It also means that the totes get cleaned very frequently and the chicks get somewhat used to being handled while things get cleaned.
    I am always very very ready for them to go to the outside chick pen, which is getting an additional layer of fine wire mesh this year, to catch the chicks that always find a way out.

    4 weeks. Maybe 6 weeks, and they go outside. The weather has been a little chilly in the evenings, but they're fully feathered and good-sized. As long as they don't find a way out of the outside pen, and I can do the upgrades I want, they'll be fine.

    So, if you feel comfortable wearing shorts outside in the evenings, have a chick-safe pen/run for your little monsters, and the chicks are fully feathered, you can put your small darlings outside. Otherwise, large cardboard boxes with a plastic liner underneath them to catch any dampness before it soaks the floor, or the largest plastic totes you can find and creative use of hardware cloth until the above conditions are met.

    Sorry.
    I understand the frustration of "They were cute yesterday. Today they pooed on EVERYTHING!" Really. I had two get stuck in a bed frame because I brooded my first chicks in the guest room. They got out of the pen, into the bed frame (I don't know how or why), and I had to take the bed apart to get them out. And they were 2 weeks old.
    Deep breaths.
    Have a cup of nice tea and think about how lovely it will be when they're outside and it's late spring and the weather is lovely.
    IMG_20240310_153657386.jpg
    Chick brooder with hardware cloth lid and brooder plate
    Chick brooder with hardware cloth lid and brooder plate
     
    Rachel Lindsay
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    Kristine Keeney wrote: I brood in large plastic totes with hardware cloth lids in my kitchen.

    You don't have a cat, by  any chance? I will do this if I can protect them from our young kitty!
     
    Jay Angler
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:

    Kristine Keeney wrote: I brood in large plastic totes with hardware cloth lids in my kitchen.

    You don't have a cat, by  any chance? I will do this if I can protect them from our young kitty!

    My hardware cloth (which is a type of wire mesh, not fabric) lids are secure enough that a young cat wouldn't get in, but they are also designed so as to be able to add a bungee cord if necessary.

    However, this would be a good time to have supervised introductions between cat and chicks. Our cat learned that chicks and hens were "family" *not* "dinner". I know she hunted bunnies, and once cornered a young squirrel, but she left our hens alone.
     
    Rachel Lindsay
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    Names! We are getting to know them a bit better, and we are having fun thinking of names.

  • The Buff Orpington boy is so big "Max" was inevitable.
  • The (German) Bielefelder is getting the name "Brunhilda" (but I also liked "Hildegard" for her, so that was tough choice.)
  • The Whiting was bred in the US in the 1980s, and will have colored eggs, two reasons to name her "Tiffany".
  • The (Australian) Australorp will naturally be "Sheila". (80's music will play in my head whenever I visit the coop.)
  • The Polish chicks are actually not Polish, they are truly of Spanish/Dutch origin, so "Pinta" for the one with a spot on its head, and my daughter decided to name the tiniest one "Raquel" after me. (Two more of those still to name...)

  • Further name suggestions are welcome!
     
    Jay Angler
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    I would need pictures of the 2 than need names to even begin to suggest any. I'm known for "interesting" names for my birds... why else would  I have geese named Betel, Robin, Bella, Mario, Blossom and Wisteria?
     
    Kristine Keeney
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:
    Further name suggestions are welcome!


    You don't want my help with naming. I have a firm rule (okay, more of a guideline) that only birds that "earn" a name get one. Everyone else is Bird. Or Hen, Roo, Silly, Chicken, or Fluffbutt depending on what's going on.

    Names I have given the geese - Genghis (currently the only gander), Ginger, and Mary-Anne (the ladies) In the brooder and being little brats, Chaos and Mayhem are goslings living up to their names.
    I have had other geese:  Pat the Goose was hatched by Hattie Dorking (one of the reasons she has a name and permanent place in the flock), Magellan Goose was my beloved first very broody goose and a sweetheart. Big Goose was very large and goose-ish. He went to another farm with two lonely lady geese.

    The rest of the flock - in the past, we have had Solitary Chicken (also called SC), Smart the rooster, Tall the rooster; and the Chicken Kittens who wandered into the chick pen while we were getting the coop set up and eventually were caught and found homes all together.
    Smart and Tall were our flock roosters while I was sorting out some other things. Smart had one eye, having lost the other in battle, but was an amazing roo. Tall was .... tall. He was a good and very conformationally good roo, but not that bright. He was once outsmarted by a bucket.

    Now there are Swamp Rabbit, Mister Man, Redcap, Older Roo, and Cuckoo for the roosters. For the hens, we have Hattie Dorking (the picture on my account). Little Red Hen was just nabbed by a dog last week. Angry Broody Black Dorking and Good Broody White Dorking used to be sister wives with Dominique and Barred Rock, but I think Barred Rock got gotten by that dratted dog. Fluffy, the Lavender Spotted Orpington is one of my older girls and this is her 5th year.

    I generally wait until a bird shows a bit of character that distinguishes them from the rest of the flock to give them a name. It has to be something truly unusual or funny and then they'll get named after whatever set them apart.

    Redcap was named after his enormous comb - it's a double rose comb or something similar and looks like he's wearing a hat that's too big for him. He's a fighter, too, when necessary, so Redcap fit (after the goblins).

    Swamp Rabbit was sneaking bites out of my tomatoes. I thought one of our local rabbits was doing it. He's being kept because he's so good with his hens. I can live with holes in the tomatoes, but a good roo is amazing.

    Mister Man is the younger and "prettier" of our two Silver Grey roos. He was hatched here last year and raised by his adoptive mom, Angry Broody Black Dorking.

    Older Roo is the older Silver Grey and was recently involved in the canine fiasco. He got a bit injured and lost some feathers. He hasn't really impressed me, but he's a generically good roo and I highly approve of fighting for the hens' safety.

    Cuckoo is our Cuckoo Maran roo. I haven't decided if he staying long-term or just keeping fresh. He's not an awful roo, but he's not as good to his hens as the others.

    Fluffy is very fluffy. Orpingtons are pretty much a rounded pile of feathers with a will and opinions, so her name was easy. She's just fun to have around the flock. She pals around with our last remaining older hens - an Ameraucanca, the Dominique, and Hattie Dorking.

    Hattie Dorking was named after her tolerance for remaining broody even when I was putting little crocheted hats on her head and taking pictures of her. Her full name (Harriet SilverGrey Dorking) was very quickly shortened to Hattie Dorking. She's a very good broody hen with an amazing tolerance for foolishness.

    Names are a personal thing. Everyone has their favorite way of doing it and different names reveal a lot more about the namer than the namee, in my opinion.
     
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    A shovel full of dirt is very appealing to chicks
     
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:Also, do I need to go buy grit today? How do I "serve" it to them?



    I don't believe 'all' starter blends have grit in them, but my feedstore is out of the organic Scratch & Peck, so I don't have their ingredients list in front of me, yet,  and Livvie disdains to accept their substitute, so scrambled eggs + millet, chia, flax & lemon balm for 2 more days? As a bare 2-year newbie, I succeeded in putting all of my 6 new hatchery chicks (under cover of their 1st night's darkness with a dim red headlamp) under my very insistently but quite virginal broody Olive Egger and she is ferociously protecting them from everyone! I included one (up to possible s-r three, but was gifted an extra straight-run, so now four???) cockerels in the order to provide some rooster protection in their free ranging pasture. I don't think the substitute starter had any grit, since they all clearly wanted some.
    Just offer the chick grit, they will take what they need and it is cheap! And my original hens never demanded I go to the full size version, either, so it won't likely be wasted.

    Sprinkle it over their starter, then you can sprinkle on the floor to scratch & peck, and later put in its own server. Offering too much will not hurt them, but not having it can quickly cause illness.
     
    Rachel Lindsay
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    At two weeks old today, Max flew out of the tub for the first time. We bought hardware cloth today! Soon there will be a lid on these little birdies. I am amazed at how fast they grew--their chicken feed is definitely working!
     
    pollinator
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    Yes, do give a dish of dirt from outside and sand can work as a grit source. They need this until you begin to put them outside. Another great thing to have on hand is kelp. Kelp is great to give when birds show signs of stress. I've seen dirt,sand and kelp pull chicks and chickens out of a downward spiral on a number of occasions over many years of raising birds. Sounds like you are having a nice adventure. Hooray for you!!
     
    Rachel Lindsay
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    I always heard everyone say that life with newborns was hard, and then it got easier.

    Nope. Not how I see it. The newborn phase is the easy one, and they only need more from there.

    I have found it to be the same with these chicks, who turn four weeks old tomorrow. The first week was the easy one!
     
    Elise Villemaire
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:I always heard everyone say that life with newborns was hard, and then it got easier.

    Nope. Not how I see it. The newborn phase is the easy one, and they only need more from there.

    I have found it to be the same with these chicks, who turn four weeks old tomorrow. The first week was the easy one!



    Mine are just reaching the beginning of their 3rd week, but with a very fiercely protective virginal broody that I successfully put them under (with cover of night), she is taking care of much of the important business!
     
    Kristine Keeney
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    Rachel Lindsay wrote:I always heard everyone say that life with newborns was hard, and then it got easier.
    Nope. Not how I see it. The newborn phase is the easy one, and they only need more from there.
    I have found it to be the same with these chicks, who turn four weeks old tomorrow. The first week was the easy one!


    I agree whole-heartedly!
    I just had the satisfaction of moving the last of the chicken chicks outside over the weekend. Thank goodness for chicken wire layered over chain link fence, fenceposts, and zip ties! I couldn't find the roll of wire, so zip-ties are holding the chick pen together.

    Yes, the first week when they're sweet and small, soft balls of fluff is amazing. The fourth week, when they want to fly, to see the world, and "you can't tell me what to do!" is a bit rougher.
    They'll go back to being fun to spend time with once you've gotten them through all the firsts - first flight, first day/night outside, first egg, ...
     
    Rachel Lindsay
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    Five weeks old. The American birds can (and do) fly as high as my head. They sleep roosting on their heater (which is always off now) and they are so big. I would love to put them outside. It will be 47 F on Friday night though, so I can't, can I? (There is no electricity out at my mother's barn where they are going...)
     
    Jay Angler
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    Hubby thinks that's too cold for them, particularly because it won't be a gradual change. It would be good to start transitioning them. If the barn has a good enough perch and they're able to sit on it, they will huddle to keep each other warm. If there's good deep bedding and you put a box upside down with a hole cut to let them in to in, they will go in there to trap heat as well. They might need Foster Mother Rachel to stick them into it the first time! With a reassuring voice and some treats inside?
     
    Rachel Lindsay
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    This story has a happy ending. We built them a warm room inside a safe room inside a safe chicken coop, and after three days they are all happy, even bigger, and well on their way to being the most eclectic flock I have ever seen. It was so worth it! Thanks everyone for your input, ideas, and perspective!
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