A new little flock (26) of baby Buckeye chicks arrived at Bramblestone Farm this weekend – they’re about two weeks old and just starting to feather a bit, so are just about at maximum cuteness.
These Buckeye chicks come from Crains Run Ranch, and were bred by Mr. Jeff Lay. In 2002, Mr. Lay began breeding Buckeyes for improved egg production, and today the “Lay” strain of Buckeyes are known for their excellent egg production. They were developed from Buckeyes from the Brown (OH), Rhodes (MA), Pierce (RI), and Urch (MN) flocks.
Our previous Buckeyes were from the American [...]
Continue reading Baby Buckeyes Are Here!
Springtime is definitely the best time of year to get new chicks; and for us getting them in early May is probably optimal. Many breeders and hatcheries have sold out of birds early in recent years, so now it the time to get chicks on order if you want to be sure of getting your picks. I was trying to compare options from several hatcheries but couldn’t find a condensed listing of them, so came up with this one for easy reference.
These are all larger, reliable hatcheries that also have catalogs you can request or view on-line; but, this isn’t a listing of breeders. It depends on what you want the chickens for to determine whether to get [...]
Continue reading Time for Chicks – Free Hatchery Catalogs/Links!
It’s springtime – the best time of year for raising chicks! So, it’s a good time to collect eggs for incubation and hatch the baby chicks yourself (or give them to a broody hen to hatch). High hatch rates and healthy chicks start with proper egg collection and storage.
Collecting the Eggs
Chicken egg incubation temperature and humidity are ideal for the growth of bacteria; so it’s essential that eggs collected for hatching are clean. However, hatching eggs ideally should not be washed, as this removes the protective egg bloom (see Egg Bloom). The egg bloom protects the egg from both bacteria and moisture loss. [...]
Continue reading Hatching Eggs – Collecting & Storing
The two Buckeye hens that went broody this summer both successfully hatched three chicks; and today we have five chicks left that are growing up amongst the flock. All of the chicks that hatched seem to be extremely healthy, and we haven’t needed to provide any special care for the them at all (i.e. no brooder box, no pasty butts, no heat lamp, etc.). We’ve given them chick starter feed (where the big chickens couldn’t get it) and water, but that’s it. The broody hens have been excellent mothers and the only calamity was when a hawk got one of the three chicks from the first broodies clutch (hazard of raising chicks that free range).
1st Broody [...]
Continue reading Broody Chick Update
Our second Buckeye hen to go broody this season successfully hatched 3 chicks on Thursday (see “Broodies Buckeye Chicks – 10 Days Old” for more background), which is terrific; however, that means we need someplace to house them – the broody box is inside the coop and too small to hold mama and baby chicks for very long.
As the picture on the right shows, they’re tiny when first hatched, but they grow incredibly fast!
When Broody #1 hatched her chicks, we moved them into the Eglu - which was working perfectly; but, we don’t have a second Eglu to move Broody #2 and her chicks into. So, we let [...]
Continue reading Second Broody Hen Hatches Chicks
The Buckeye chicks that our broody hen hatched are now 10 days old, and three of the chicks have survived. It’s fascinating to watch mother hen raise the chicks – I thought raising day-old chicks was great (see Raising Day-Old Chicks), but watching how she handles it is even better.
The chicks hatched in the broody box in the coop (see Building a Broody Box), but we then moved them into the Eglu coop set-up within the chicken pasture. We weren’t sure how much protection the little peeps would need from the larger chickens; so we separated them into their own coop and small run [...]
Continue reading Broodies Buckeye Chicks – 10 Days Old
The eggs under our broody Buckeye hen (see Building A Broody Box) were due to hatch starting yesterday (Tuesday) when it would have been 20 days since we set eggs under her; so we were shocked on Saturday when this showed up: Naturally, we then expected more eggs would be hatching shortly - but nothing on Sunday, or Monday, or even Tuesday. We almost gave up. Then today, another chick finally showed up (it’s under her left shoulder):And, a little while later, it looks like there are two more under there:
We’re waiting on the final count, but it appears that [...]
Continue reading Broody Buckeye Hatches Chicks!
As we go into the New Year, it’s nice to remember what’s occurred over the past year:
Surprising many who thought I had no technical computer ability, I created Better Hens and Gardens to share back-to-basics information on food, sustainability, and self reliance. Randy put up a chicken cam, and I added that link to the blog so we could watch the chickens. Surprising me, blog readership grew:
We learned a painful lesson about the need to quarantine new birds before adding them to a flock (see Painful Chicken Lesson), and eventually had to cull our original flock of chickens. Despite [...]
Continue reading 2010 – A Very Good Year
After successfully raising the six Red Comet chicks to laying age and twenty eight Buckeye chicks through the first twelve weeks this year, we thought it was going to be smooth sailing. But no, things never go quite as planned…..
As the Buckeye’s were moving into week 13, they abruptly started picking the feathers off of each other’s back and eating them. Within two days, some of them were beginning to show bare backs where all the feathers had been picked away. Naturally, we were anxious about this behavior (a form of cannibalism) and wanted to get it stopped ASAP.
After posting [...]
Continue reading Feather Picking Chickens
Getting day-old chicks and raising them is fun and rewarding; they seem to grow while you watch, and their behavior is fascinating. But they’re a lot of work too, and it’s not a job that should be taken lightly. They require frequent monitoring and care for the first five weeks, so someone needs to available every day. There are no vacations or days off during those critical first few weeks. I’ve debated over writing about the experience, it’s been written about well and often before; but there are some important concepts I never picked up on until actually doing it – so [...]
Continue reading Raising Day-Old Chicks
On Thursday, we got 30 Buckeye peeps (they actually hatched last Sunday), and put them in a brooder in the barn. We’ve waited along time for these Buckeyes (see Buckeye Chickens)!
The brooder is actually made from a TV armoire we found sitting beside the road, waiting to be hauled off as trash (yes, we asked before we took it!). We took the shelves and drawers out, and set it with the back on the ground – just perfect for a little brooder. For the first two days, we put the chicks on paper towels so they’d learn where their food was [...]
Continue reading Baby Buckeyes Are Here!
Thirteen Weeks Old
I picked up one of the chicks last night, and did a double take. She was a lot heavier than I expected – those sneaky little girls are growing up!
We don’t know exactly how old they are (they were a surprise with the new coop), but think about thirteen weeks. We got them at five weeks, and first kept them in an old Eglu while we painted the coop interior. At eight weeks, we slowly transitioned from the medicated starter feed they were being fed to non-medicated grower feed, and didn’t observe any problems.
At nine weeks, they moved [...]
Continue reading Growing Pullets
The six young chickens that came with the new coop (see New Chicken Coop) were a complete surprise, so we scrambled to accommodate them. It really just came down to what is best for housing, feeding, and watering five week-old chicks so they attain their full potential as healthy, happy, productive chickens.
Seven Weeks Old
For housing, baby chickens are started in a brooder with a heat lamp until about 4-5 weeks of age, so we verified that these chicks had been moved out of the brooder, and no longer needed a heat lamp. We also took a good look at the [...]
Continue reading Young Chick Care