Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chick News

We just got the last four of the little Peeps last week of the breed 'Australorp'. They were bred in Australia out of black Orpingtons and the name reflects this fact.
They supposedly are an improved version of the black Orpingtons, the idea was to make it an better utility bird and they are known to lay more then 250 eggs a year, the record was 346 eggs a year.
They seemed to be a bit smaller as the other chickens, when we got them even tough they still will be over 8 lbs compared to the 10 lbs of the Orpingtons, approximately the same size as the Welsummer chickens. The little Australorps remind me a little bit of fluffy Penguins, they are black with a white/greyish front rump and some have white markings in the face. Their feet are dark skinned, not yellow like the others.


The other chickens are now a week older then the Australorps. It is amazing the growth they can make in one week. The first few days, every morning it seemed like they doubled in size and they had another row of new feathers. The are fully winged now, have some tail feathers and just are getting shoulder feathers. They start looking real funny being between the fluffy, little peep look and a real feathered look.

The Welsummer which are going to be a reddish brown are starting to show some of the Partridge pattern they will have

Look at the shoulder and wing feathers of the Welsummer chicks

The Orpingtons are growing really fast, when you hold them they feel like a hand full. Before, you hardly noticed you had any weight in your hand, but now you do notice they are getting heavier.

look the tiny tail, aren't they funny looking?

The chickens got big so fast and started to be more active, flapping their new wings, running around with no directions, just to be running, we felt they needed more room. So we made them a cardboard box brooder and moved them to the sun room. So far we had them in the aquarium right next to the dinner table. This was really nice to get them used to us, it also was amusing to watch them, it is almost like watching chicken TV. But now they are getting bigger, they are also starting to become more messy, smelly. So it was good that the outdoor temperature is picking up somewhat, because that let us move them into the unheated sun room. With the brooder lamp box inside the card board box run, they should stay warm. They look like they enjoying the space and seem fine with the cooler temperature in that room.

This is the new chicken set up

Our Boxer is fascinated by the chickens and likes to watch them. I am not so sure he thinks of them as play buddies, I think he is thinking "I know chicken? I like chicken!" So I don't trust him with them. His instinctual reflexes are quite strong, so he gets supervised visits with them. The top of the box is covered with bird netting, clipped to the sides, so the dog can not stick his head in there. Hopefully we will get him to the point that he just ignores them as they get bigger.


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