September 2016
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The Eagle Has Landed – Again

Three years ago we took the plunge and got our first chickens. You can read about our first baby chicks in this post. Five months later we got our first eggs. That began a two year period of fresh eggs for breakfast every day.

Then last summer we contemplated getting more chicks, but decided to push it another year. That was a mistake. The egg production dropped off dramatically in the third year. From now on, we’ll get a new batch of chicks every two years to keep the egg production up.

Our first chicks were a variety of egg laying breeds. This time around we decided to get all one breed. The idea was to make it easier to distinguish the different generations without having to tag their legs. Some definitely laid better than others. One of the best layers was a breed called Red Star. And my favorite chicken is our Red Star. She is very friendly. So this time around we ordered all Red Stars. We’re thinking in two years we’ll do all White Leghorns then Red Stars again two years later.

Three years ago, the chicks arrived after just one day in shipping. This time delivery was very slow, to the point that I was starting to worry that they might not survive. The shipment left Iowa on Monday morning, arrived in Atlanta Tuesday afternoon, and didn’t reach our post office until Thursday morning. As soon as I got the call, I went right to the post office to pick them up.

After three days with no food or water, they were hungry and thirsty. I already had the brooder set up and ready for them. I built it three years ago for the first chicks. It worked well the first time, so I stored it away for the next batch.

When I opened the box, I could see they were all alive which was great news. We received one bonus chick which is noticeably different from all the others. I think they do that to get rid of roosters which are probably ordered much less often. Time will tell. I removed each chick from the box and dipped its beak into the water so it learned where the water was.

Sixteen baby chicks in such a small box!

Sixteen baby chicks in such a small box!

The chicks getting accustomed to the brooder

The chicks getting accustomed to the brooder

Once the chicks found the food, they were slow at first to eat but then they picked up the pace a lot. By the second day, they were going through the food fast. They are definitely messy eaters, so a lot of it ends up on the bottom of the brooder. That will get thrown to the older chickens when I clean out the brooder so nothing goes to waste.

When the chicks first arrived, I had a white incandescent bulb in the brooder for heat. I noticed that the “rooster” was picking at the feet of the other chicks. I read online that white light could cause them to “pick”, and they recommended a red heat bulb. I grabbed my infrared bulb from the chicken coop and swapped it out. That seemed to help.

On the second day, the infrared bulb burned out. My daughter was home and called to tell me. She temporarily put the white bulb back. I checked the local pet stores and found that they did not carry these. I found it on Amazon and ordered a couple of them with same day delivery. The bulbs arrived around 6pm. I was happy to pay the extra $6 to get same day delivery. Who knows how much time that saved me from trying to find a bulb. I have to say I love Amazon. What a great tool it is in a situation like this.

In the Resources section, I included links to some videos I took of the chicks. A couple of the videos are time lapses that are fun to watch.

They grow so fast early on. As I write, they are only 7 days old but they are already getting noticeable feathers on their wings. Before you know it, we’ll be eating fresh eggs again. I can’t wait!

The first feathers appear when the chicks are less than a week old

The first feathers appear when the chicks are less than a week old

Resources for this post:
Our first baby chicks three years ago
All About Our Chickens
Infrared Heat Bulb on Amazon


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