We ordered our chicks a month before they arrived. Chicks are sent via Canada Post on the day they hatch and they arrive the following day. There were 27 tiny chicks in this box—all happy and hungry and ready to start their lives with us.
Chayton, 2-years old at the time, was enthralled. He loved the chicks from the first moment he set eyes on them.
As we took each chick out of the box, we dipped their beaks in water and then placed them in the pre-warmed brooder box near the food. They were to spend the next few weeks in this spacious home that Brian had made. We spent hours each day with them, talking quietly and handling them very gently. Chayton loved to feed them one kernel of feed at a time. We had a small parade of visitors come through—neighbours, friends, and family—they all came to see these adorable chicks.
This is the brooder box that we used. Brian used an extra-large rubbermaid bin that we already owned, cut two square openings in the top and then made simple wooden frames and covered them with hardware cloth. We put a layer of coarse sand on the bottom (about 1-1/2 inch). We prefer sand over other bedding materials, mainly because we have a lot of it, but I also love how it holds the heat (keeping the chicks warm) and is so easy to clean (I use a kitty litter scoop to sift the sand twice daily). The first few days, we place paper towering over the sand to give the chicks time to learn to distinguish food from sand.
We hang a heat lamp over one side and keep the brooder box in the cabin (basement) where we can spend lots of the time observing and enjoying the chicks.
Brian also built a tiny roost for them to play on.
They outgrew the brooder box fairly quickly. Within weeks we had them in the prepared coop. The low beam that Chayton is holding onto is their lowest roost. There are two more levels above this. After a few months, Grandpa changed this and made the three level roosts (pictured in the previous post), which lift on a hinge for easy cleaning.
The chicks grew so quickly and soon looked like miniature adult chickens. As you can see, we had three types of chickens: Columbian Whites, Rhode Island Reds, and Barred Plymouth Rocks. These are common dual-purpose birds (good for eggs and meat) and we love the different colours. We’ve had good success with all three breeds but found that the friendliest and most tame are the Rhode Island Reds (we have one living in the cabin with us right now—she’s a darling—I’ll tell that story in another post).
We love having chickens in our lives, and after three years of having chickens I could not imagine life without them. Yes, it means daily chores but it also means the freshest, tastiest (and healthiest) eggs I have ever tasted. They also add such fun to our lives with their different personalities and behaviours. We sell eggs to our friends and neighbours, which helps builds community relationships, and we take pride in having a clean coop with healthy, happy chickens.