Chicken Chronicles: The First Two Weeks with Chicks

Chicken Chronicles: The First Two Weeks with Chicks

We have had our chicks for 11 days now, and they have been growing so quickly, it’s impossible to keep up on here! They were about a week old when we brought them home, so we started out on their second week. I’ve kept a daily notebook on their changes in appearance and behavior in the first two weeks, and I think the best thing is to just share that with you here!

Baby chick sleeping in hand
Sweet baby Pepper sleeping in my hand

Day 1: We prepared the box brooder and brought the chicks and supplies home. We spent lots of time holding them and showing them off to family and friends who came to visit. They are so tiny and fuzzy and fit easily in our hands! I chose their names myself, and it was so much fun to pick names without having to weigh input from others. We put them in the basement and I found our old baby monitor to keep an “ear” on them. They are surprisingly quiet; we expected a lot more peeping. I guess they’re quiet when they’re content!

Introducing our new chicks!
Days 2 and 3: Still spending lots of time holding them and getting them used to me. On day 3 I offered them some food out of my hand, which they ate happily. Food obviously tastes better from a hand than from the feeder.

Chicks eating out of hand
Eating out of my hand
Day 4: Pepper’s favorite new game is to stand on my hand when I put it in the brooder! The others have not gotten brave enough yet to come on their own. They are all growing tiny tail feathers now except for Joy. I know they are the same age, so it must be a breed thing.


Day 5: All the chicks have tried at least once to stand on my hand. They are getting noticeably bigger already, and may need a new brooder before too long. They’re trying to fly already and can get 5-6 inches in the air! Soon they will need a lid on the brooder to be safe. I put a small stick in the corner of their brooder to let them give roosting a try. Of course Pepper was the first one to climb up on it! They all have their own little personalities. Pepper is friendly and brave. She is always the first to try out new things. Joy is sweet and calm, not easily rattled. She likes to nestle down in our hands to sleep. Gypsy is very cautious and afraid of new things. She is the slowest to warm up to me, but I’m working on her. Bijou is much smaller than the others, but she is alert and curious. She is tiny but feisty!

Day 6: The chicks are about 12 days old now, not quite two weeks. Their wing feathers are starting to grow in, and the patterns are so beautiful! I didn’t get a side photo of Pepper’s wings, but you can see her back feathers starting to grow in and tail feathers getting longer. Notice how much bigger they are in my hand than they were just five days ago! I gave them some dry oats out of my hand, which they adore. I also gave them some grit in a bowl to help them digest the new treat (I simply used dry rough sand; do not use the smooth play sand that clumps and is too small).

Barred rock chick
Pepper – Barred Rock
Easter egger chick
Bijou – Easter egger
Production Red chick
Joy – Production Red
Wyandotte chick
Gypsy – Wyandotte

Day 7: I had to go out of town this day, leaving the chicks alone for about 7 hours. Before leaving we moved them to a larger brooder, about twice the size of the old one. We used poultry wire to put a lid on top so they couldn’t get out while we were gone. (Poultry wire is okay in this instance, as we’re just trying to keep the chickies in and not trying to keep predators out.)

They seemed distrusting of me when I got back, which broke my heart, so I fed them a tiny bit of cooked spaghetti to try and win their love (no shame to my game). Instead I induced sibling rivalry and got to witness Chicken Football, which is one of the funniest things ever! One chick will grab a piece of spaghetti and take off running with it like a madman, looking over her shoulder frantically in case her sister might be on her tail, trying to steal her newly prized possession. I can’t imagine that there’s much if any nutritional value to spaghetti, so this will be a very rare and small treat (and only available because I’m terrible at measuring pasta and always cook too much!).

Roosting stick grit for chicks
Grit bowl and roosting stick, with one side down for easier access.
Day 8: The chicks should be about two weeks old now. I was gone most of this day for church and family birthdays (my little guy turned 5!), and again, the chicks didn’t seem very happy with me leaving them. 🙁 They do seem to like the bigger brooder, though.

Day 9: What a fun day! I took the chickie babies outside for the first time today, two at a time. Gypsy and Bijou, being the more anxious chicks, got to go first. They stayed close to their travel box and Bijou peeped for a couple minutes, but then they settled in and really seemed to enjoy it. They liked the sunshine and didn’t seem to mind the breeze.

After about ten minutes I exchanged chicks and brought Pepper and Joy out. They were more adventurous, of course, but still stayed within a couple feet of me. Our small dog came out to investigate and I watched him closely, but he doesn’t seem to know that he’s a dog. He sniffed them and smiled at them but had no interest in a chicken dinner. The chicks were curious about him and did not act afraid, but they did climb up on my lap and hands while he was around! I love being their chicken Mama.

Chicks outside for first time
Gypsy and Bijou outside
Chicks outside first time
Pepper and Joy staying close to Mom
Chicks outside first time
Joy and Pepper outside for the first time
Day 10: Today I gave them a longer and taller roosting bar, which they seem to like more than the first one. I also gave them a small box of sand, after watching Gypsy try to take a dust bath in the grit bowl! It’s amazing to me how God gave them such amazing instincts. Even without a mama hen to show them how to dust bathe or catch minute flying things (like drifting down feathers, which they think are bugs), they automatically do it. Their eyesight astounds me; even from day one they could see the tiniest little speck and even pick it up to try and eat. They also know immediately if something is food or not, once it’s in their mouth, and will spit it out if it’s not edible. Even chickens are fearfully and wonderfully made!

 

Box brooder for chicks
New bigger brooder with roosting stick and sand box. Their food is under the lip at the bottom of the picture. You can see part of the wire lid pulled back, and the lamp has been moved up a few inches (but still made my photo turn out red, sorry!).
They desperately want to stand on the edge of the new sand box, which is way too thin, but it’s their new goal in life. With so many new toys and new skills to learn, there is much peeping to be heard. Even my husband asked why they were peeping so much – it was the first time he could hear them from upstairs! When the lid is off (only when I’m with them), they will try to fly to the edge of the brooder, especially Joy.

Joy  was the first to try the new roosting bar, and first to try to fly out. I wonder if she is moving to the top of the pecking order; it’s interesting to watch that develop. At first I thought Top Chicken would be Bijou, but as her sisters grew bigger they took over. For a while Pepper was the leader, but Joy is giving her a run for her money. Gypsy is too timid to even try. Thankfully they do not actually peck at each other or fight, but you can definitely tell there is a dynamic of who’s the boss.

 

Chick on roosting bar
Joy is the first one on the new roosting bar
Day 11, today: They are all getting so big! Their feathers are coming in spastically all over now, and they are losing more and more down feathers, which I didn’t expect (I guess I thought the down magically turned into real feathers?). Joy and Pepper like to sit on my hand, and I try to pretend it’s because they like me, not because they want to be closer to the top of the brooder. Gypsy and Bijou will tolerate me for a short while if I pick them up and set them on my hand, but today Bijou spent several minutes there peacefully. Pepper actually managed to fly from my hand to the edge of the brooder box today – naughty! I let her enjoy it for a minute and then put her back inside.

 

Chick sitting on side of brooder
Pepper made it to the side of the box
Some general care notes: The chicks really are very low maintenance. Every day I give them cool, fresh water with a little apple cider vinegar added. I fill both their water and food jugs about halfway; more than that and they just make a mess. I change their bedding every third day, and add a few scoops of fresh pine shavings daily. They poop pretty frequently, but it really only smells when it’s fresh, and it gets covered quickly with the pine. I’ve learned to watch for the “poopsie dance” and steer clear! Mostly my time is just spent enjoying them.
We will hopefully be able to get the lumber for our coop and start building it this week, although snow is a possibility in the forecast. I expect to move the chicks into the coop in probably three weeks, but at the rate they’re growing I can’t even imagine how big they’ll be by then. What an adventure this is! It’s already been easier and more fun than I anticipated. I highly recommend it. 😉

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