Fresh eggs from your own flock of chickens is a delightful source of nutritious, local food. If you've ever thought about keeping chickens, you might enjoy starting with chicks. Come take a tour of "baby chick time" at our place, which started this week...It's the Spring Equinox, and that means baby chick time at local feed stores -- and time to get mail-order chicks, too. In my case, they came 25 to a box (minimum order) from the hatchery in Iowa. My babies arrived at the Bainbridge Post Office at 7 am Monday morning, and I was ready for them. These chicks were shipped immediately after hatching, when they can survive without food or water for 24 hours. Nestled together in the box, they keep one another at the perfect temperature while being hurried to their destination. Although this is probably a bewildering journey, hatchery chicks seem to cope quite well if they are cared for properly immediately upon delivery. Temperatures in their new pen must be kept at 90-95 degrees for the first week, with fresh water and special chick feed available. The heat is slowly reduced each week, until the chicks are acclimated to outdoor spring temperatures. The chicks pictured below are Murray McMurray's "Rainbow Mix," which means that the eggs will range in color from white, light brown and dark brown, to the green-blues of Araucanas.
After picking up the box at the post office, I'm ready to put the chicks in their new pen, where heat lamps have warmed things up to a toasty 95 degrees. Fresh food and water are also ready and waiting.
Opening the box with bated breath... will they all be alive? They are! (I did lose one chick the first day, however. She appeared to be a "runt," quite small and weak.)
I take each chick out one by one, dipping its beak in the water so they know where to find it. They're thirsty after their long trip from Iowa.
Roasty toasty - 95 degrees!