After a long first year at the farm and lots of big projects, we finally added our first set of chicks. I’ve been dreaming of this day for a long time and to see the fluffy, fuzzy little ones dancing around, chirping about made my heart skip a beat. While our coop is under construction, I went ahead and placed an order with Meyer Hatchery.
Karen Meyer started Meyer Hatchery in 1985, only using a few incubators and offering just four varieties of chickens. Shortly thereafter, she had a booming business and is now among industry leaders thirty-two years later. They offer 160 breeds of poultry including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas, peafowl and game birds as well as feed and supplies. Because I’m interested in colorful eggs, I thought their Rainbow Assortment (all female) would be perfect for our needs.
After browsing the many breeds available, I chose 3 straight run (could be male or female) Mottled Cochin Bantams and 4 straight run from Leann’s “Adopt Me” Bargain. The bantams are round and fluffy with sweet, docile personalities.
The adoption bargains are extra foundlings from the weekly incubators and are a guarantied variety of chicken chicks, bantams or broad breasted turkeys. We ended up ordering a total of 22 chicks, having all but the Bantams vaccinated against Marek’s Disease before leaving the hatchery. For those new to chickens like me, Marek’s is a Herpes virus infection of chickens which can cause paralysis, weakness, spasms and tremors. Since the Bantams are very tiny, the hatchery suggested vaccinating when they make 2 weeks which we plan on doing.
When those babies arrived, they were ready to bust out and live at our farm.
The day old chicks were tightly shipped in a small box with a heat pad (similar to hand/foot warmers) located underneath their bedding to keep them warm and sporadically placed holes for ventilation. I learned that freshly hatched chicks can survive up to 72 hours without food and water. They receive enough nutrition from their egg yolks to last them that long. Who knew?! All these tid bits of information are fascinating to me.
Upon the recommendation of a friend/veteran chicken owner, I ordered the Gro-Gel Plus and the Vital Pack from Meyer as well. The Gro-Gel Plus provides immediate nutrition and hydration to the chicks after their long journey in a box. This supplement gives them water, proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates and fats, vitamins, and probiotic bacteria. Each supplement has a specific purpose, from improving energy to getting the digestive and immune system going.
After my cowboy set up the brooder, I began assembling my chicks’ goodies. The Gro-Gel was very green and was more like a science project as I watched the powder form into a gel after adding 1/2 cup of water.
Next I added a 1/10 of a teaspoon of the Vital Pack Vitamins & Electrolytes to 1 gallon of water. The Vital Pack is full of water-soluble vitamins and electrolytes, essential for starting chicks, growing pullets, and mature hens. It is perfect for birds under stress from moving, handling, parasites, or chilling.
My final step was adding some poultry feed to the feeder. I went with a medicated chick starter/grower feed since we live in South Louisiana. The feed is treated with Amprolium to prevent coccidiosis which can be prevalent in hot and humid environments. I figured we couldn’t be too cautious when it came to their health. The treatments will eventually fade out of their system by the time they begin laying eggs.
Once the prep work was finished, the chicks seemed very happy in their new brooder and this farm momma spent the afternoon staring at her babies.
Even Dixie was curious and kept staring at these unique chirping creatures.
Dixie seemed fascinated but not at all aggressive as I had imagined she would be upon her first encounter with the chicks. Surprisingly, the rebel queen gets along with all the animals at our farm. The horses love her. Nibbles flirts with her through his cage. We shall see what the final call will be when the chicks get a little older.
In the meantime I’m enjoying having some babies around to nurture. Maybe this is exactly what I need during our ongoing season of infertility. Chicks to the rescue! As I get to know each one, I marvel at God’s creation and His attention to detail. The Cochin Bantams have the cutest furry feet and are the smallest out of all the chicks in our flock. So far, they have stolen my heart with their speckled color and tiny physique.
These chicks truly are the light of our lives right now at the farm and a marvelous addition to our ever expanding crew. It is just another piece of farm life that brings joy to my soul right now.
Until next time…