Baby Chicks – Adding to My Flock

My experience in poultry keeping over the past year has been extremely rewarding.  The chickens satisfy my desire for more critters, give my suburban garden that rural atmosphere I love AND they provide food for my family and potent organic fertilizer for my garden!  So I decided to add a few more baby chicks to my flock.

baby chicks day 1

The Buff Orpington chicks

It all started with Willow, my broody hen.  She got me thinking it would be nice to have a few more hens to ramp up egg production, and wouldn’t it be fun to hatch them out myself?  Well, not myself but you know what I mean.  I watched Willow for a while, but don’t really think she’ll cut it as a broody hen; she was on and off the nest too often and didn’t exhibit any of the trance-like concentration that a truly broody hen shows.

baby chicks day 1

Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks

When I was a kid, we (briefly) had an old broody hen appropriately named Mama Hen.  She was passed on to us by the next door neighbours who were giving up on rural life and moving back to the suburbs.  We set Mama Hen up with a clutch of eggs and she dutifully settled down to hatch them for us.  At some point (I’m not really sure of the time frame, this was around 35 years ago) she died, probably from a deadly combination of old age and devotion to her clutch of eggs.  I was devastated, and decided those little half-grown chicks deserved a chance to live, so I brought the eggs into our laundry room and put them in my (thankfully unoccupied) aquarium, with a regular light bulb to keep them warm.  I marked each egg and turned them daily as someone (I forget who) advised.

Buff Orpington Hen photo courtesy photobucket

My Buff Orpington girls will look like this when they're grown

I managed to hatch six chickens from that clutch, much to the surprise of my parents, who had long given up on dissuading me from any hair-brained animal-based schemes.  I was thrilled, and will never forget watching those tiny birds pecking and peeping their way out of their eggshells.

Silver Laced Wyandotte hen

Silver Laced Wyandotte hen

Well, wouldn’t you know, I happen to have an empty aquarium, so I thought I might give it a go again.  A little internet research about home incubators taught me that I was pretty lucky those many years ago to have hatched anything given my slapdash method.  I figured that I’d do a little better this time, paying attention to temperature and humidity among other measures.  I also found that I could easily buy fertile eggs and have them shipped to me, because of course, with no rooster in my flock, my eggs are infertile.silver laced wyandotte chick

The drawback to this whole plan was that I would inevitably end up with a bunch of roosters, and I did kinda promise my neighbours that I wouldn’t have a rooster!  Not to mention my family, who probably wouldn’t appreciate the early morning crowing either.  So I would have to get extra eggs and be prepared to sell, give away or dispatch the roos myself.  Hmmmm, could I do that?  I have no problem gutting fish, and have dealt with several untimely and gruesome animal deaths without any qualms…I think I probably could!

Buff Orpington chick

I'm sure glad I'm not a rooster!!

That’s not going to happen though, because I located a supplier of sexed heritage chicks who happened to have just what I was looking for!  My present flock are sex-linked hybrids bred to lay – and they are certainly efficient egg machines!  While I’m not unhappy with them I wanted to try a couple of heritage breeds, rumour has it that while they may take a little longer to start producing and be slightly less productive, they continue their egg-laying life for longer than hybrid chickens…we’ll see!

silver laced wyandotte chicks

Taking a drink!

I picked up my new baby chicks a few days ago and they’re settling in nicely.  I bought 3 Buff Orpingtonand 3 Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks, the Orps are about 4 weeks old and the SLW’s less than a week, so they have different temperature requirements at this point.  I’ve set up two brooders in my garage – one is a big Rubbermaid tote and the other is my old aquarium (I knew I’d find a use for it).

buff orpingtons day 1

Mmmm, delicious chick crumbles

Everyone is eating and drinking, peeping and pecking, so I guess they’re warm enough and they seem very healthy.  Like I did with my sex-links when they were little, I’m feeding them a bit of yogurt; apparently it’s as good for their digestive systems as it is for humans.  The Orp girls love it, but the little fuzzballs aren’t really into it yet, I’m sure they’ll catch on soon.silver laced wyandotte chick

My daughter asked me if I’m going to name them, because after cautioning her that chickens weren’t pets, I named the first bunch on a botanical theme.  I guess I’d better name these too; I wouldn’t want them to feel left out!  Sticking with the plant-based theme, so far I’ve named the Buff Orpingtons; Maple, Peach and Cherry, but I’m not sure about the others yet.  Any suggestions for naming my baby chicks?

Buff Orpington chick

I think this one is Peach - the Buffs are hard to tell apart!

About hortophile

I am a very opinionated, slightly obsessed gardener with decades of experience in the retail nursery industry. A lucky resident of the "Wet Coast" of British Columbia I tread a muddy path between practicality and beauty, with my veggie patch, herb garden and fruits vying for position with the beautiful trees, shrubs and flowers that I can't resist. DON'T ask me to choose between them! I believe in environmental responsibility and common sense.
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15 Responses to Baby Chicks – Adding to My Flock

  1. ruth cartwright says:

    pretty chickies, larry curly and moe, now your kids will say who were they, hahaha

  2. barb19 says:

    They are so cute, and I specially like the look of the Silver Laced Wyandotte hens – they are so pretty and really stand out!
    As for names, what about Kale, Snow Pea and Bean!

  3. Reading this post I am so tempted to have chickens, but where to put them! I don’t think I could name something I was later going to eat LOL :)

  4. PS,
    I’ve just been donated some chicken mature for my garden. I’ve probably asked before, but I have a bird brain and no memory. How long do you leave your chicken manure to mature before using on your vegetable patch?

  5. lexy3587 says:

    fern, moss, lily :) Not actually sure what your original chickens’ names are, so that might have repeats. daisy, dafodil, tulip would also work, since we’re coming up on spring
    such adorable chickies! I’ll admit, for the first part of your post, talking about hatching chicks yourself, all i could think was, “doesn’t she only have girl-chickens?”… makes much more sense that you bought the chicks (or the eggs?) to raise.

  6. Sarah says:

    Sooo cute! After spending last year getting used to keeping bees, I finally got my first four chicks last month (jealous that you can have so many). I went for Barred Leghorns and a Barred Rock, and am intrigued to hear the theory that heritage breeds continue laying more into their senior years. I have no immediate plans to eat my chickens when they stop laying, but time will tell.

    • hortophile says:

      I looked into beekeeping last year (because I love honey) but when the guy in the video said “if you’re going to keep bees, you will have to accept a certain amount of bee-stings” that did me in. I love honey, but I have a very low tolerance for pain!

      • Sarah says:

        I’m like you, hortophile–no tolerance for pain at all. But I’ve gotta say that I have yet to get stung. Sure, I wear a huge suit that makes me look like an astronaut (or maybe a fencer?) but the bees are actually pretty mellow, and I can certainly roam around the garden without fear of being stung. Something to think about if you ever want to further ruralize your urban garden!

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