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Chick growth? Or no growth in this case--everyone's ready to move outdoors except Tiny

 
Galadriel Freden
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As detailed in another thread http://www.permies.com/t/55178/chickens/critters/chicks-dying, I've had a very rocky time raising chicks this spring. It was so easy our first time! This year, not so much.

I've got five chicks, aged about 10-11 weeks, various unknown breeds. Three are normal sized, two are bantams. I've never had bantams before, and both our little surviving ones have had a tough run of it (we also had several bantam chicks die, described in the thread above). Right now we have one growing, finally, after a period of losing her feathers and having a perpetually swollen crop (now back to normal). She's just about fully feathered like her normal sized broodmates at last, and while not as big, she can at least hold her own. However, the other bantam is still far behind both her and the others. He's not yet fully feathered, and although he's grown a little, he's actually not much bigger than when we got him at 5 days old. He's lively enough, and eats and drinks just fine, and can do everything the big ones do. He's just so small and less feathered.

I'm worried that he won't be able to stay warm when they move outdoors. The big chicks are really ready to live out there now, as they're just too big for the brooder. At the moment they sleep in it at night, and go outdoors during the day. The bigger bantam is big enough and feathery enough that I'm not concerned about her. But Tiny bantam is so vulnerable, and he can't sleep alone in the brooder--that would be too unkind.

Any suggestions (or commiserations) are welcome. I'm ready to get these chicks outdoors permanently; they're ready too, except Tiny.
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Tiny chick and big black chick
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Tiny chick in all his glory--big black chick wants to eat camera
 
Tyler Ludens
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Can Tiny and the other bantam live together in a more protected space than the other chicks? I have a mixed batch of chicks and lately I've been sorting them by size, not by age.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Can Tiny and the other bantam live together in a more protected space than the other chicks? I have a mixed batch of chicks and lately I've been sorting them by size, not by age.


Hmm, a possibility. I don't really want to split them up as there are only five, but maybe their outdoor house can be modified slightly...

Their outdoor house (temporary) is a rabbit hutch, and it's pretty drafty. I've put a smaller box--cardboard, filled with straw--in the most sheltered part, in the hopes that they can cuddle up out of the draft. Don't know if they will, though. We'd decided that tomorrow (1st of June) is moving day, and it's really past time for the big chicks. In the morning when I come down to take them outside, they're tearing up the sheets of newspaper on their floor in frustration. When I put them out, they run up and down the ramp to the grass, scratch around, chase each other...they love it out there. Except Tiny!
 
Tyler Ludens
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The main thing when you move them outdoors is to provide a dry place out of drafts. I sometimes use cardboard boxes but if they get rained on then the chick can get damp. Unless they have feathered out this can be bad. I think, though, because you can provide some shelter, Tiny can probably move with the others. I certainly understand not wanting to split them up. I've been trying to consolidate several hatchings, and this is difficult because of dramatic differences in size and maturity.

Can you staple some plastic or other material on the weather side of the rabbit hutch to help prevent rain from blowing in?

 
Galadriel Freden
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Tyler Ludens wrote:

Can you staple some plastic or other material on the weather side of the rabbit hutch to help prevent rain from blowing in?



Thanks, I think I can try that. I've got some foil-backed bubble wrap which might work. The top is enclosed enough so that even if it's blowing, rain can't get in, but when it's windy the wind just goes right through. Tomorrow's the big day, anyway. I guess I'll just have to try it and see
 
Anne Christgau
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Hello, it may be suffering from dwarfism, not much you can do about this, other than talk to the breeder,
Bantams are usually quite tough little birds despite their size. But it is worrying for you.
A rabbit hutch is not ideal, and it is essential that in their coop they have a branch that they can perch on during the night,
about two feet off ground they will feel so much safer than huddling together and not feel the drafts so much.
All the best
Anne


 
Tyler Ludens
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Sometimes these little chicks can be real troupers. I had one runt we called "Peanut" who grew up to be one of my best hens and lived a long time.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Anne Christgau wrote:Hello, it may be suffering from dwarfism, not much you can do about this, other than talk to the breeder,
Bantams are usually quite tough little birds despite their size. But it is worrying for you.
A rabbit hutch is not ideal, and it is essential that in their coop they have a branch that they can perch on during the night,
about two feet off ground they will feel so much safer than huddling together and not feel the drafts so much.
All the best
Anne


Thanks Anne. I've never heard of dwarfism in chickens.

I know it's not ideal, but the hutch is all we've got, and we kept last year's batch of chicks in it until they joined the main flock. Right now outside temps are around 10C at night, and 12C+ in the day. I'll try covering the mesh door on the hutch (top picture in my original post) with the bubble wrap and covering the hole to the downstairs at bedtime for them, to stop drafts.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Sometimes these little chicks can be real troupers. I had one runt we called "Peanut" who grew up to be one of my best hens and lived a long time.


We wish Tiny was a girl! Pretty sure he's a boy, and his future is uncertain at this point... Still, I'd like to see him grow up at least. He's lovely and friendly, and the cutest of the whole batch.
 
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