deaths and digging
Day 15 and I'm down to 15 chicks! Not sure what happened, one poor wee mite was dead next morning after I got them, and 4 more died on days 4 and 5. No idea why, healthy one minute, hunched the next, dead the next. I brought them over to the water and they could drink all right but didn't seem to want to eat. You can't force a little ball of yellow fluff to eat so I just made sure they had water and hoped for the best... All but one of the 5 smaller chicks died. The remaining small chick (Twig) is very vigourous, painfully so, he thinks my hand is food! when I'm filling the food one chick always runs over and pushes in pecking and shoving, and it's always Twig. He also digs vigourously like a cartoon chicken, especially loving to scatter sawdust into the water dish (grrrr)...He simply won't be moved when he's in dig-mode. I've tried gently pushing him away but he comes straight back. Never has a chick come so close to a slap (No, I wouldn't relly, just kidding).
i read somewhere that male chicks feather up slower than female chicks and there must be something in it as my chicks can be divided very distinctly into tail and big wing feathers and fluffy-bums. By my reckoning I've 8 male and 7 female, a good mix as not everyone wants a very large meat bird and the females usually kill out smaller and fatter. Also the fluffy-bums are noticably more confident which would also suggest males. I'm sorry I didn't take pictures when they were small and cute as they are pretty fugly now! Half fluffy and with balding patches of pin feathers errupting every where. They look up with beady black eyes and small 'ferrengi/klingon' wattle ridges forming and they are not post-card chicks no more! To tell the truth they were so easily panicked I was afraid the flash from the camera would kill them! I've got into the habit of murmurring quietly and moving very slowly and they are getting calmer, but if i make a sudden move they still flap madly away squawking.
One has a baldy bum but it is clean pink skin so I'm not worried. It had dried poop under its tail and my book said this should be gently picked off... well, I picked it up, inpected its hindquarters, bleuch. I tried a gentle experimental pick and it squeaked indignantly. i stopped. We looked at each other and came to the mutual aggreement that we'd leave it to nature. Sure enough, the dried poop came away neatly a couple of days later bringing the bum fluff with it. But it's not remotely sore or red looking and nobody pecks at it, which I did worry about as they peck anything unusual. I put my hand into the pen yesterday, forgetting that i had a note written on my hand and they decended on me, all trying to peck the tasty letters off. Not the brightest sparks, broilers!
I'm hoping to introduce whole wheat soon as a start on getting them used to a whole-grain diet. i don't intend to raise them on broiler feed, I'll be experimenting in a straight grain option to see if it would work large-scale. Any thoughts anyone?
I am so sorry to hear of the tiny little chicks that you lost FreeChick. Good luck with the ones you have left.
I have very little experience, but once I had two chooks and a rooster. I fed them on just sprouted wheat. I am not sure if this was better for them than plain wheat! I know if it is sprouted too much it can get stuck in their crop. I made a nice warm mash for them in winter too.... but this was a quarter if a century ago!