Monday, March 29, 2010


A few weeks ago, we received our first batch of chickens.  The USPS is the only service that will ship chicks.  Since Vernon is such a small town, we receive our mail through a PO Box rather than delivery to our home.  Normally, the post office will call when the chicks have arrived and then we drive down and pick them up.  However, since the person who picks up the mail and brings it to the Vernon post office is our neighbor, she decided just to swing them by the house.  She figured that since I was at work and Hollie was at home with the kids that it would be easier for her to drop them off than for Hollie to load up the kids and drive to the post office.  We really appreciated her kind and thoughtful gesture. 

Here Hans and Dane can hardly wait to see the new chicks.  In this shipment, we received 130 Plymouth Rocks and 70 Delawares.  Both of which are heritage breeds and featured on the Slow Food Ark of Taste Program.  The hatchery sent an extra 10 chicks in case we lost any during shipping.  Fortunately, they all arrived alive and healthy!  When a chick hatches from its shell, it has enough yolk in its stomach to survive three days without food or water.  This is what makes the shipping of chicks even possible.  However, once they arrive, it is important that they get food and water right away to ensure a low mortality rate.  Hans and Dane were given the job to gently take each chick and dip its beak in the water before placing them in the brooder under the heat lamps.  The dipping of the beak, helps the chick learn where the water is.  The chirping of 200 chicks can be deafening and leaves our ears ringing.  : ) 

Here are the chicks after four weeks.  We have only lost four chicks which we are very happy with; the low mortality rate that is!  They are almost completely feathered out which means it is time to go out on pasture.  Today we will move them to their new home.  They will spend 6-8 weeks on pasture before we harvest them. 

Here is the next batch of chicks we received two weeks ago.  These are the Red Rangers.  (The hatchery had a problem with their incubator and lost the batch of Naked Necks they were supposed to send us.)   We received 300 chicks in this shipment.  They were supposed to arrive on a Thursday and we had a weekend trip planned for that weekend.  When they didn't arrive on Thursday we panicked since we weren't going to be here on Friday.  We are so thankful for our good neighbors Karen and Richard who stepped in and took care of the chicks while we were gone.  (It isn't the easiest thing to call you neighbor and ask for that kind of favor!)  These chicks haven't faired as well and we have lost about 10% of them.  We don't know if it is the breed, or the lamp placement, or something else. I guess as we get more experience we will figure it out.  As you can see in the picture, their wings are feathered out.  A couple more weeks and they will be on pasture as well.

The Royal Palm and Bourbon Red turkeys should be arriving in the next week or two and around the same time, we will have another 200 chicks showing up.  Hopefully everybody likes our chickens because we will have plenty of them available!  Tell your friends and family to get their orders in!    

1 comment:

Jesse said...

Looking good! :) We've got all of our first batches of chicks in too. Pretty good so far, hovering around 5% mortality until something got into our brooding area with our turkey poults and caused some real damage. It was something small to be able to get in there, but I'll need to find some better brooding solutions. All my meat birds are in a much more secure area, but I needed another spot for the poults and it seems I pushed my luck too far.

Which brings me to a question for you--what's your brooding setup like? How big of an area do you have for how many?

New for this year I got a good deal on some propane brooding hood stoves. Unfortunately they've been nothing but trouble and I'm already back to just using a bar of infrared lights on a thermostat. That's been the most reliable for me so far.

Well keep posting, its looking like it will be a good year for you. I'm very interested in your success with the Plymouth and Delawares.