Thursday, November 20, 2008

new chicks in my life

Just arriving this morning at 7am were 50 new Barred Plymouth Rock chicks. This is a straight run, so I'm not sure how many pullets vs. cockerels there are.

I lost two of them. One just wasn't spunky. He wasn't eating or drinking, or moving around. I kept checking on him and he eventually just petered out on his own. The second I had to put down. His intestine has hanging out of the vent, and other chicks were picking at it. I had to remove him.

Temperature control is my biggest worry. With outside temperatures below freezing, I've covered the chicken tractor and lowered the three heat lamps in side to get at least a few 90F spots for them to warm up in. They squeak in distress when too cold, and it took me all day to figure out the level of noise they make when they are just right temperature wise.

For anyone curious about the brooding conditions; they are being raised in the field in a 4'x12' tractor I made. There are three heat lamps in a 4'x4' section of it, and the whole thing is covered to keep drafts way down. They only use up 1/4 of the tractor at the moment, but I expect as they grow, they will need a second tractor ready in about a month or two.

Outside temps this morning when I put them in the tractor were around 30F, and only getting up to 70F inside. Now, we're running at around 42F outside the tractor and 80F just outside the heat lamp area. Tonight should get down to 20F, so I'm a little concerned about keeping them warm enough, but will be keeping a close watch on them to adjust temps as needed. I've been passing around sugar water to help keep their energy up.

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