The Brooder Bunch at 5 Weeks

Well, the Brooder Bunch, aka the 7 babies we hatched for Little Dude’s 4-H project, are five weeks old this week and heading closer to the 6 week mark, where had their mother not so violent to them, they might have been set loose to fend for themselves as young member of the flock.

As mentioned in the last post about them, I have been letting them outside in their playpen on nice days to get the flock used to them.  I intend to let them loose after they all hit 6 weeks old and see how the flock receives them.  Right now, there is moderate curiosity, but no meanness.  And no one seems to have noticed that Cutie and Grumpy are definitely boys.   I think that it will help that Pavelle’s chicks are around the same size and running around.  I think it will go well.

I have pictures of them all to share now.  Feel free to click on them for bigger images.

Chipmunk,the partridge Welsummer.  She is one of the three who are more fully feathered out.   She is friendly and sweet, and very curious about everything.

Goth Chick, the little all-black Mad Scientist chick. I am assuming this chick is a hen, due to the smallness of the comb and lack of wattles.    She is another of the ones who feathered out quickly, loves to fly and is shy, but not skittish.

CW, the Columbian Wyandotte.  I know nothing about Wyandottes, but I’m hoping this beauty is a hen, but over the last week, ‘she’ has started to grow wattles and a comb.  They are small, but noticeable in all that white fluffy.   CW is the biggest of the seven brooder babies.

Rocky, our little Barred Rock.  Another breed I’m not familiar with, but if I had to guess,  Rocky looks like a little henny.   Rocky is shy, but friendly.  (S)he is one of one slower feathering ones, and has only just started to fill out.

Cutie, one of other Rocks. Either a Light Barred or Silver Penciled.  They both look really close in coloring, at this point.  Cutie is a rooster.  I’ve known that since he was two or three weeks old.  The comb and wattles just confirm it.

He is one of the ones who was pecked by Rapunzel.  His feet healed, but for a while, he had a deformed, maimed toe.  It was gnarled and black.  Last week, the little dead toes fell off, just at the knuckle, leaving Cutie with a little nub.

Grumpy, the other other Rock.  Again, either Light Barred Rock or Silver-Penciled.   I honestly don’t know which is which.  Also a rooster.  His toes are better, too, but they weren’t as badly damaged as Cutie’s.

Grumpy and Cutie are both aloof and standoffish.  Not flighty, but not accessible.  I don’t know if that has anything to do with Rapunzel pecking them, or just a rooster thing.  They like to hang out together and butt chests.  Rooster things.

Cutie likes to wait til the other chicks get the treats, too.  watching my older roosters, I know that is a trait I admire in Double Dots.

The Light Brahma, whom Little Dude calls “Rap” and I call Brahma.   This chick is supposed to be a Light Brahma, but as the feathers come in, they are all black.  I’m guessing Dark Brahma now, but since the poor little thing is only now getting feathers, I wont really know.  No signs of a comb or wattles yet.  I am hoping for a hen, but IF this actually is a Light Brahma, then it might be a rooster.  The pictures I’ve been looking at suggest that the Light Brahma males have more black in their coloring. 

However rough their start, these chicks are doing very well, and I can’t wait to see how they grow up.

And This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Every since I watched Abby hatch and raise her wee little Pipsqueak, I have been in love with the process of hens raising chicks.  They learn so much more from their mothers and it’s nicer having them with the flock rather than needing to be in the brooder box.

So, when Rapunzel went broody right after Pavelle did, I jumped at the chance to let her raise Little Dude’s 4-H chicks.  We even let her hatch some of them by hand. 

It seemed to go well at first.  We snuck the three who hatched from the incubator down to Rapunzel in the middle of the night and slipped them under her.  She snuggled in and seemed content to sit on them.

They all seemed really happy together for the first week and I had a lovely set of Week 1 photos to show off… and then at about the week-and-a-half mark, that all changed.

Rapunzel, who had by this time, been broody for 5 weeks already while we waited for the special order eggs to come, decided that she wanted to take her broody outdoors and see the sunshine.  They’d already been moving about the coop under her supervision and that didn’t seem like an unreasonable request.

However, at some point in time, she had begun pecking at the feet of some of the little ones.  I noticed the first one on Friday night.  Little ‘Cutie’ – one of the little gray ones we couldn’t identify – had bloody and swollen feet and as I watched, Rapunzel kept pecking at them.   I removed the chick for the day, treated the feet with Vetricin and Scarlex Oil, and put her back under Rapunzel at night.  By Saturday morning, a second chick – the Grumpy one -was also sporting bloody tootsies.  I removed BOTH chicks, treated them again, and put them in the broody.

I spent a good part of that Saturday observing Rapunzel with the other chicks.   She would sit on them, warming them, with no problems at all.  Then, she would get up, go to scratch in the dirt, call for them to come see what she had found, and then forcefully pecked the feet of the first chicks to approach.   She got Rocky (Little Dude’s Barred Rock) and the light Brahma chick a couple of times while I observed.

Sunday, Cutie and Grumpy were walking better and healing up some, so I risk putting them back with their family.  Rapunzel accepted them under her, but during the day, the scene of ‘call them over and then peck’ repeated.   She would target Cutie, Grumpy and now Rocky, who now had a wound forming on one foot.  Now and again, she would go after the little Brahma, too, possibly because of his feathered feet.

She only did this when they were out playing and eating.  If they were under her, she was a happy momma, bucking softly and talking to them.

I had the sinking suspicion that she would slowly work her way through all the chicks, pecking and maiming all their feet.  So, in order to save them, I took them all away from her.

These pictures, below, are the last pictures of them as a happy family, before the blood bath began.

It was heart breaking to them away.  You see?  She wanted them.  She wanted to sit on them and nurture them.  She paced the coop for days, talking them through the walls even though she couldn’t see them and when she figured out where the brooder was in relation to the coop, she jumped up on the roost to peer over at them, making screeching noises at me to “get away and give me my babies back!”

They, in turn, called out for her, alarmed and upset and NOT happy in the brooder.  Who can blame them?  She was momma and it was a strange box with a red light.

Every morning, I put her in with them, thinking maybe she would forget about their toes (which were healing nicely) and that just maybe I would give them back to her.

Each time, she went to them, calling and bucking softly, sitting with them and letting them gather under her, and they’d be fine for about 10-15 minutes.  Then she would get  up, go to explore the brooder and scratch to show them things… call to them to come look… and yes, you guessed it – attack their toes again.  Cutie, Grumpy, Rocky… then anyone else.

This happened thee days in a row.

I gave up trying to let her try.

I don’t know why she did it.  She certainly acted like she wanted them.   But I couldn’t let her ruin their feet.   As it is, poor little Cutie has one toes that is now broken and misshapen.  He/she can walk on it, but it will never be the same.

So I stopped letting her in to see them.  This was still heart breaking.  She would alternate between returning to the coop to look for them and following Pavelle and her chicks around like a forgotten nanny.

In the meantime, I had another dilemma to deal with.   How to raise these chicks so that the flock -who had just started to get to know them – didn’t forget them?  I want a seamless integration and with the last re-design of the coop, we can no longer split it down the middle.

During a string of hot days, hot enough that 2 week old chicks wouldn’t need a brooder lamp, we had the idea.  DH built a little playpen for them.  On the hot days, I can take them outdoors, for a couple hours at least, with water and food.

They get the sunlight, grass and bugs their one-time momma tried to introduce them to, and the other chickens get to socialize with them.

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The babies in their new playpen.   When I let them out on nice, warm days, the hens and Dots come other and say their hellos and then leave them alone, for the most part.   Notice Rapunzel there on the left?

The first two days we used it, Rapunzel went to them and attempted to talk and call to them through the chicken wire.  Only half the chicks would respond to her.  They were starting to forget ‘momma’ even if momma was not ready to forget them.

I tried – once – to put her in with them outdoors… to the same, sad and heart wrenching conclusion as the other times.

It just isn’t meant to be.

I don’t know if 5 weeks broody was too much for her brain, or if she still thought they needed to be eggs, or if 7 was too many chicks for a new mother hen to take on.   Or if broody hormones made her insane.   I. Don’t. Know.   Sometimes, the only answer is that ‘some hens don’t make good mothers.’

Which is sad, because as a Buff Orpington, she made a wonderful broody.  She went quickly, stayed with the same next, was dedicated to her eggs.

But I don’t think I can risk giving her babies again.   I could let her hatch and I could raise, maybe, but she couldn’t be trusted not to ruin their feet again.  Could she?

As of the writing of this post, Rapunzel has gotten over the ‘baby thing’ entirely and gone back to Hen Things.  She is pissed that Pip is gone.  He was her chosen boyfriend and Luke does nothing for her.

I need to get more pictures of Grumpy, Cutie, the light Brahma and Rocky.  It’s harder in the brooder because they are quick and scared.

Chipmunk, Goth Chick and CW are all feathered out enough to start flying and they have been, as you can see from the pictures, coming out of the brooder to explore the world.  These three adventurers are bonding with myself and Little Dude because they sit out there and talk to us while we do morning chores.   Chipmunk is especially friendly.

By next week, they will be old enough to withstand 75-80 degree temps, so they should be outdoors, in their playpen, a little more often.  Unless it rains.   I have been bringing Pavelle’s chicks to say hello to them, in the hopes that they can be ‘cousins’ once I try to integrate.   Eggy is terrified of them.  That will be fun.

My Pet Chicken finally gave me an updated version of which breeds we have.

Chipmunk – still a Partridge Welsummer.   Also, accorrding to this site, a little pullet.  Because she still has her ‘mascara’ on her eyes.

CW – still a Columbian Wyandotte.  Gender unknown.

Rocky – still a barred Plymouth Rock.   Gender also unknown.

The little Brahma is still a little Brahma.   Little Dude calls him/her ‘Rap’ and I don’t know why.

Goth Chick, the all black one, is no longer (or never was) a Svart Hona.  Instead, according to the breeders, Goth Chick is one of My Pet Chicken’s ‘Mad Scientist’ chicks. They are calling them ‘customed crosses’ and did not tell me what when into the making of this chick.  Possibly Svart Hona, possible Cemani?  Possible God knows what?    Supposedly, if it is a hen, it could lay green eggs.

Cutie and Grumpy are both different flavors of Rocks.   One is a Silver Penciled Rock and the other is a light Barred Plymouth Rock…. so essentially, the same as Rocky only gray and white, not black and white.   They both have barring on the wings now.  I think they will look very similar, to be honest.

I’m going to end this post with some random pics from this week.  We had a deer visit the pasture, and half the chickens were terrified.  Pavelle chased it because it was too close to her babies.  It was amusing.

 
And that’s about it for this week. I am having surgery on Monday, the 26th, so if there aren’t updates for a while, this would be why. When I return, I promise pictures of the Brooder Babies, who should be more feathered out by then.
 

 

Rainy Tuesday Update

So, it’s raining today, with little patches of sunshine here and there.  The weekend was pretty much the same, but the week was pretty exciting around the barnyard and pasture.

First off… we’ve had visitors of the nasty variety.   Two fat brown woodchucks who think they own the place.   Dad shot one sneaking around the garden and caught the other in a trap he placed by their hole.

A couple of days later, we caught this opossum in the same trap.  Which means they are sharing the holes under the barn.

Dad wasn’t targeting the possum, because he read somewhere that they eat ticks. I don’t know if that’s true, but the DO eat eggs and young chicks, and can also kill adult chickens. I’m glad we are one possum less this week.

The neighbor’s white turkeys also paid a visit (which I didn’t get a picture of), but the chickens are getting used to them being around.

Ashley decided to go broody, and spent most of the weekend in Broody Jail.

Now, I know I have said in the past that I wasn’t going to use the Broody Breaker method anymore and just give my hens eggs.  But this hen is a special case.  This is Ashley – she who lost her babies 2 times in the fist week of their lives, kept leaving nest and getting too confused to go back to it, and then raised them to be neurotic weird freaks.  (example, Felix… and Perdie who STILL doesn’t trust me.)   So… no eggs for Ashley.

Besides which, Pavelle’s babies are two weeks old today and Rapunzel’s hatch/incubator babies are due to be hatching today.  Remember?  The 4-H project?   So yeah… I don’t need more babies just yet.  Especially not from a hen I don’t trust.

And while Ashley cooled out in Broody Jail, DH and Little Dude made another attempt to dry out the swampy areas in the middle of the chicken pasture.  Last year, DH made a pond.  This year, he’s spent days (and days and days) digging trenches trying to find where the underground springs run.

The chickens LOVE it because trenches mean mud, dirt, worms, bugs… stuff for them to do and see and EAT.  So they really love helping DH with his trench project.

And lastly what post would be complete without something about Pavelle and her babies?

This past week, Pavelle decided that she didn’t like the cat carrier as a nest, so she moved her babies out of it and up into one of the laying boxes.  They only sleep there at night, because the other thing they REALLY discovered this week was the great outdoors.  She takes them into the tunnels, the run and even into the barnyard.  They have not yet ventured into the greater chicken pasture, but still, the spend a good portion of the day outside, getting whatever yummies nature has to offer.   Whatever it is, they always have full crops when I see them, so it must be good.  🙂

This is Feather Butt, aka The One With The Feathered Feet. If you look closely…

… I *think* Feather Butt might also have a mini-crest. It’s not as pronounced as Pavelle’s was, but it sure looks like one to me, there on the top of his/her head.

 

Happy 2nd Week-aVersary, little Pavelle-Babies!

Three White Hens

Because one of my readers asked for pictures of the Dalmies, I present to you…. three mostly white little hennies.

Perdie, who, as you see, got the most gray from her adventures in the ash pile.  I got pictures of her investigating the nests and it apparently upset her routine, so she went back outside.

Pongo, who is slightly bigger than Perdie in build and has a bit more fluff in the trunk.

Pongo is also the more friendly of the two.  Granted, Ashley raised them all to “hide because it’s safer” … but I can pet Pongo and Maxie.  Perdie doesn’t really want me near her at all.  She is very skittish, as is their hatch-brother, Felix.

Genetics… Pongo and Perdie are most likely Pip’s children, with Australorp mothers.  They act a lot like my Australorps, and also the Orpingtons.  Those two breeds are cousins of sorts, so I guess that makes sense.

They are the most dramatic when it comes to laying eggs.  Often, they will go into several nests in search of the right one, announcing their displeasure at the rejected ones and complaining if their preferred is empty – for a very long time before settling on one.  Or faking the Egg Song in an attempt to get someone out of the nest they want.

I’ve noticed the same behavior in the Orps and Lorps, where as my sexlinks (Abby and the Mystery Bin Girls) are very no-nonsense about it.

Maxie, on the other hand….

… she is a straight to business type of girl.  More like Abby and the Mystery Bin Girls who jump into any available nest, lay their eggs and move on.  Like I said, no-nonsense.

Given that Maxie is a mini-me of Dots, I’m guessing her egg donor was one of the sexlinks.  She’s pretty and friendly, a little smaller than her sisters.  Another indicator that she is a sexlink.  Possible straight-on second generation if we assume Dots as the father.

Maxie was one of the few who avoided the ash pile altogether, so she isn’t even the least bit gray.  Which makes her very smart, in my opinion.

Anyway… that’s the girls.  🙂

 

Snow Birds

I’m needing to post pictures of chickens doing Chicken Things today, and since the temperature decided to warm up and the wind isn’t blowing, they decided to oblige me.

I give you…the snow birds.

It looks like a few more of them are getting brave. #winter #snow #chickens #chickensofinstagram

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It’s October, Already?

I’m honestly not sure where August and September when. One minute, I’m helping Little Dude with his 4-H projects and the next minute, school is starting, then both my children had their sport seasons start AND the garden started booming.

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These pictures are from last week.  The green beans are still flowering and still producing.   The carrots are doing well, too.  I’ve been slowly harvesting them, cutting into cubes and freezing for soups and stuff over the winter.

The cabbages did well.  I harvested, and discovered that if I left the plant in the ground rather than did the roots up, they will start growing a new head.  I don’t think any of them will be big enough to harvest before frost, but the chickens might enjoy them?

I had decent luck with the broccoli, too.  I need to check them again, but I suspect they will slow down eventually.

I’m waiting to harvest the potatoes and sweet potato. Also, the brussel sprouts, which I’m not sure what to do with.  I’ll probably Youtube “how to harvest brussells sprouts” soon.

Over all, I’m very proud of my experimental garden.  I’m already planning for next year.

Dad’s tomatoes, though… those things were the best.  So far, we’ve done over 30 quarts of whole tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, home made ketchup (first time ever), salsa, chili and home made tomato soup (also a first time ever).  The soup and ketchup were my idea and I can just say — yum!!!

 

And, of course, since this is my ‘chicken blog’ I have to talk about the chickens.  🙂

I have a lot of videos and kooky pics up on my Instagram.

The older ladies and Dots are all in various stages of molting.  Some of them look rougher than others.  Some of them (Abby, for example) barely looking like they’ve lost any feathers at all.  But the over abundance of feathers everywhere is a testament that they are molting.

When does this end?  Winter is fast approaching and I’m looking at my semi-balding birds and thinking “they will freeze!”  And “I can’t knit so so no chicken sweaters!”  Especially not for 30+ birds.

Actually, I am NOT an advocate of chicken sweaters.  They are bad for our birds.  Cute, but bad.  Just say no. Okay?

All the babies are getting bigger.

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Dani and Eugenie.

 

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Pavel or… Pavelle … or who, I have been assured by someone on Instagram is, in fact, a pretty little girl.  🙂  She’s sweet and intelligent and loves to ride on my shoulder and ‘talk’ to me.

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“Esther” who is NOT a girl, but a handsome little cockerel.  I’m torn between renaming him Eddie or simply shortening Esther to Es.

I’m in the process of negotiating with my DH to let me keep him, along with Dots and Pip.  We have enough hens to justify three roosters and Esther is the low boy on the totem pole.  He might fit in just fine.   Plus,I read somewhere that an Easter Egger + a brown-egg layer will produce Olive egg layers.  IF  Es were to mate and I were to hatch those babies, I could potential have olive green eggs some day?

DH is thinking about it.  He wants Easter Eggers.  Es is our only survivor.  It could happen.

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The Sulmtaler Brothers.  I call them Sumi and Taller.  I shouldn’t name them.  If I can’t sell them, they are off to Freezer Camp by the end of November.  But they’re so cute.  And Sumi crows better than Dani does!

The chocolate orps (whom I have no pictures of because they won’t hold still for me) are boy & girl.  The little roo, I call Snickers.  He’s cocky and I think he’s been trying to establish dominance over Sumi.  They’ve been squabbling.   He also tried to mate with an Australorp yesterday. I wish I’d gotten a video of that because she went off on him, claws up and everything.  All the rest of my hens are pretty docile so I’ve never seen that happen before.

The hen is Hershey.  She is sweet, but standoff-ish.  She likes her privacy.

 

 

As the instagram caption says, Stacey as has been acting weird.  She paces the coop ALL DAY.  Always.  It looks like she’s looking for a nest box, but she never gets in one.  I don’t know what’s actually going on and Google is not my friend.

This is Ashley. Aka Ashe… some of you may remember Ashe was the little Australorp who kept the injured Baby company when they were chicks.   She is going to be a momma in about 2 1/2 weeks.  🙂  It will probably be my last Broody of the year, as winter is approaching.

Milestones

In all the upheaval of babies hatching, babies dying, my aunt and uncle coming to visit and Little Dude’s 4-H projects, I forgot to post Dani and Eugenie’s Week-aversary post.  Now, here it is time for another one!

Dani and Eugenie, week 6

Week 6, standing next to a 19-week old Australorp. The Australorps are getting HUGE, btw!

Week 7.

Dani and Eugenie are now mostly on their own.  I catch them hanging out sometimes with their momma, sometimes with big brother Pip, and sometimes with their papa Dots.

Last week, they even stayed inside the coop to ‘help’ auntie Abby teach the new wee ones how to scratch in the wood shavings.  From a respectable distance, of course!

The rest of the flock seems to have no real problems with them.  They share time at the water dish and while they still don’t get first dibs at the treat dish anymore, they aren’t being ostracized for trying, either.

Usually I find them snuggled together at night, although sometimes Dani likes to perch in the rafters above everyone and Eugenie would rather perch near one of the adult roosters at night.  Sometimes Pip, but mostly Dots, so I often see them both sleeping with their papa.

The rest of the flock does not shun or push them away, like they did with Pip. I think that because they already ‘did this’ with Pip as a baby, they know what to expect and don’t care as much that there are little ones running around with them.

a Mystery Bin Girl, age 20 weeks

Our spring time pullets are all going to be 20 weeks this week.  This means they are reached their sexual maturity.  I am not sure how many of them are laying, but we’re currently getting between 12-14 eggs a day.  Some of them are quite small, while others are clearly the work of the older girls.  Once again, I wish for a video camera to see who is coming and going from the nests.

And lastly…

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Abby’s Easter Egger baby

Look at those wings!