Chicks playing on their jungle gym
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We are just about ready to put them outside. The constant cheep-cheep-cheeping is driving us nuts! For the past couple of weeks, the mother hen has been spending her days outside but comes back almost every night to stay with the chicks.
I did a couple of the old wives' tale tests on the chicks and I think we have one cockerel (rooster) and four pullets (hens). We'll see, won't we? If that proves to be true, then I think that the old wives' tale about the pointy eggs being roosters is pretty accurate, too, since we should have had three roosters out of the original six if I hadn't removed the pointy eggs. Only time will tell.
I was showing El Jefe the tests and realized that all this was pointless because what was I going to do? Wring the little bugger's neck? No way! I wanted all hens, but the day after we gave away our two excess roosters, we found out that nephew E's rooster disappeared. So now we are hoping that we do have a rooster to give him along with the new hen we were planning on surprising him with.
They have been outside a couple of times in their pen − turned upside down so they can scratch in the dirt and eat grass. We keep it in the shade or place the bottom tray over the top to keep them out of the sun so we don't end up with fried chicken. If Chloe the Rottweiler was very aggressive, this wouldn't work because she could easily tip over the pen or get in from the top.
The cardboard around the pen was to keep the chicks inside since they can easily make it through the bars of the pen. I put a little dish of yogurt in there just in case they didn't find enough to eat on their own. They love yogurt! It is the only thing that keeps them quiet. I sprinkle cayenne pepper on it because they say that it can prevent coccidiosis in chickens. Chickens either can't taste the heat of the cayenne or they like it.
What I've been thinking of doing is keeping them in the pen outside during the day and then putting them in the coop at night so they will get used to sleeping in the coop. I need to retrain all our chickens to use the coop. I'm still a little worried about the dogs, especially Chloe, harassing the chicks if they were free-ranging. This photo shows the curious chihuahuas right after we moved the chicks outside.
I really don't think Chloe intends to hurt the chicks, because obviously with one bite, the chick would be gone if that is what Chloe wanted. She likes to play with them like squeak toys and, of course, they are too delicate for that. The full grown chickens have no problem with the dogs.
Another reason that I want to keep them contained for awhile longer is that I have to feed them many times a day. They scratch their rice and corn all over the place so I only give them a bit at a time or it just gets wasted. They also eat chopped up boiled egg and ripe banana. Not exactly a balanced diet but I've had bad experiences with the chicken feed here in La Ceiba. It usually smells rancid and my chickens won't touch it.
Sadly, the little white chick didn't make it. I was so hoping to have another Blondie, but she was just too weak and wouldn't eat or drink on her own. I helped her for a couple of days but it became evident that she wasn't going to survive.
The one chick that hatched from the original clutch of eggs (before the other eggs were eaten) is still doing fine. She is inseparable from her adopted mom. I have no idea how this is done, but the chick somehow gets up to this 2-foot high railing and spends the night under mom's wing. So, all in all, a successful hatch so far.
Here is a short video of the chicks busy hunting food outside in their pen. Don't let that sweet peeping fool you. That is not how they sounded inside the house!