Raising Chicks – Stage Three

The chicks, at four weeks old, were quickly out growing their stage two brooder so we began transitioning them to the chicken yard.

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The gradual transition serves several purposes. It allows the older birds to get used to the young ones; it allows the chicks to become familiar with their new environment; and they have the warmth provided by the heat lamp in the stage two brooder while the nights are still cold.

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We set up a temporary enclosure within the chicken yard, near the coop. We use 4 t-posts and about 30 feet of 2 foot tall chicken wire. We also place netting over the top to deter overhead predators.

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The spot offers both shade and sufficient sunshine, at least this time of year before the trees get their leaves. The wooden box provides shelter if they need it and the crate is used to transport the chicks to and fro.

Each day for about a week the chicks were taken out to this play yard to spend their day pecking and scratching and doing what chickens do, and each night they return to their stage two brooder.

After a few days we began letting them out of their enclosure when we were in the area. They love this freedom and it is so funny to watch them run at full (chick) speed with wings flapping or crane their neck and jump to catch a bug in mid air.

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Last week, when the chicks were about 5 weeks old and nicely feathered out, they began spending their nights in the coop.  They have yet to find their way into the coop at night. Instead they find their way to the crate then we put them in the coop. We will begin training them to go in on their own soon.

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We have left the outside enclosure up  for now and make sure the chicks are inside when we are not around. When we are there we allow them to free range, but they have yet to venture far outside the chicken yard.

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Once the buds on the hickory trees become leaves we will take down the enclosure because the leaves in the densely treed area will provide a canopy to help hide the chicks from the view of over head predators.

We really are enjoying raising this batch of Buff Orpington and Black Austrolorp chicks. They are very friendly and I would recommend these breeds for anyone considering raising chickens.

Thnaks for visiting. 🙂

15 thoughts on “Raising Chicks – Stage Three

  1. Even if I was those chicks and chickens I will love ti be on that place. They have enough space to move around. They will surely be happy chickens.. Thanks for sharing the photos Ruth!

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    1. That’s right Graci! We like to have happy chickens. If they are crowded the can become stressed and then they peck at each other. I always say our chicken yard is prime real estate as it is in the grove of lovely hickory trees. When we do let them free range they have the whole farm to roam. They do seem quite happy.

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    1. They really are irresistible. Last night I was sitting on a large rock under the hickory tree in the chicken yard and one of the chicks came and hopped up on my lap. She visited for a while then went off to eat and drink. A while later all 10 chicks were pecking and scratching around my feet, some pecked my shoe and jeans out of curiosity. The next thing I knew one flew up on my shoulder – then a second one did the same. It was chilly so I had my hood on – good thing because the next thing I knew I had a chick sitting on top of my head. I was laughing and my husband wanted to get the camera but I had forgot to take it with me. Oh well I think we will have more photo opportunities.

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  2. Baby chicks are so cute! Are these new layers that you’re raising? Or meat birds? I’ve always wondered if you free range them, how do you teach them to stay on the property? And if they leave, how do you know that they’re yours and not your neighbors?

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    1. They are new layers. They sometimes wander to the properties on either size or across the road. If they are in the road or across we usually get a stick and herd them back home. None of the neighbors that close have chickens but also chickens naturally return to their coop at night. Good questions.

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    1. Hi Anne. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I’ve never paid much attention to the smell of the feed but I can’t help but wonder how it has changed over the years.

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