Moving Out

Our chicks are getting big. They love to run around outside, and they have started rolling around in their bedding, trying to get a dirt bath. They are also scratching and looking for food in their bedding of wood chips in the brooder.

In short, they are making a big mess.

On the plus side, they are practicing all the adult chicken skills that they need when they are outside ranging in the yard: rolling in dirt, scratching up bugs, pecking around at things to give them a taste, etc. Inside the house, though, all this stirs up a lot of dust and fluff (and lately even a few feathers). They also have started knocking over their baby chick water dish and spilling it in their bedding, which makes a mess.

And, sad truth be told, none of that smells very good.

So they are out:

Now that it is consistently pretty warm and the birds have feathered out, we moved their brooder to the screened-in porch. We have the heat lamp for the nighttime when it's cooler, but during the day they should be fine without it as long as it gets to about 70 or so. This is a good intermediate step to get them even more used to temperature fluctuations as we get ready to move them into their permanent coop.

A few weeks ago in the New York Times there was an interesting article about chicken retirement homes. Turns out the backyard chicken trend has left some Portland chicken-keepers with the dilemma of what to do when their chickens get too old to lay, but too young to die of natural causes.

We always figured we'd just eat them in a stew, but now that they have names, the kids aren't all that wild about that idea. They were fine with it in theory when we discussed it, but that was before they had the birds in hand (literally). So in deference to the first warm-blooded pets our kids have ever had, we designed the coop to hold up to eight birds. This should give us room to hang on to our aging hens while we expand the flock with new layers, when that become necessary in a few years.

And by them time those birds die of natural causes, the kids will be out of the house and we can do what we want without making anyone cry.


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