Week Two

April 9, 2013

Starbuck Amelia
Olive, Starbuck, Amy, and Seven

It's true, chicks grow up fast. I estimate ours are around two weeks of age now, and although they're still really small, they've got loads of energy and require a lot less sleep than they did last week. As of now, they're staying in a 2'x2' brooder box in our spare bedroom upstairs, and while it's been fun having them in the house, I can tell it's almost time to transfer them outside, so Matt is building a giant brooder in the basement where they'll live until we finish their coop.


Starbuck, who is definitely the largest and most developed, has replaced almost all of her juvenile down with pinfeathers. I'll admit, the initial sight of them was disconcerting. Gone are our fuzzy, almost cuddly chicks, and in their place are these strange dinosaur-like creatures. Now that the pinfeathers have grown out a little, I find them fascinating, but I feel bad for the girls. It seems to make them really itchy and uncomfortable.

As for Starbuck's gender, the issue is still up in the air. I think perhaps she's just half a week older than the rest of them, or so I hope. I've become quite fond of her. Sometimes I hear her crying in the box by herself while the others are asleep because she's so uncomfortable, so I'll go in and hold her until she passes out in my hand. If she does end up being a roo, I think it'd be very hard for me to eat her, or to sell her to someone as food. Despite my best efforts, her friendly disposition has thoroughly won me over.


As for the coop, we've been developing plans for the last few days, and we're hoping to get started on it this weekend. To cut costs, we're going to use the old dog house that the previous residents left behind. We'll give it a new roof, a nest box, some windows and doors, and a new paint job. We'll also attach a nice, roomy run for them to play in. Hopefully it'll be large enough for them until we can finish enclosing our backyard with a 6ft. privacy fence. We can't allow them to properly free-range until we feel the yard is secure. See what I mean by feeling like we're scrambling to catch up?

A few more chick related notes:

-I was a little unsure about keeping the chicks in the house for the first week or two, but I'm glad we have. I've been able to keep a close eye on their food, water, and overall health this way. One thing I'm learning is if they're being noisy, there's generally a reason for it. For example, I think our water dispenser is a little faulty. We've gone in to check on them three or four times over the last week to find damp pine shavings near the water and surrounding area. Not just the top layer of shavings either, but all the way to the bottom of the box. We probably wouldn't have caught the water issue so quickly had they been out of earshot in the basement.

-I'd like to feed the girls treats to supplement their medicated starter feed. I hear yogurt is good, and although it sounds weird, I guess they like a nice hardboiled egg... Any other suggestions?

-It was suggested that we keep the brooder at 90°F, but that seems too hot for the girls. They're much more comfortable with temperatures in the mid 70's. Little Olive may be the exception. She's the youngest after all, but she snuggles up to the other girls most of the time and seems content.


  1. I remember that there is a growing time when they are not very attractive at all, it's before they get all the way big but they still look big..if that makes any sense.

    Your little group is just so adorable right now. I love the little feathers on the wings that they are getting..so sweet.

    I'm wondering if they might like a bit of cooked oatmeal, perhaps watered down a bit.

    Thanks for sharing their progress. xo

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Sherri. I just tried to give them a little yogurt with some of their food mixed in, and they didn't seem to like it at all. I think they didn't like the way it felt on their beaks.

  3. Our chickens have always been fed a wet mixture. We splash a bit of apple cider vinegar on their food then enough water to turn it into an oatmeal like consistency after it soaks overnight.

    This has worked very well for our birds from hatching onward, all breeds. We also give them bits of kitchen scraps to start them on what they will eat when they're bigger. Our chickens handle all of our kitchen scraps with the exception of citrus.

    We've always had deep orange yolks and amazing flavor from our eggs, and seriously rich flavored meat from our broiler chickens, so it seems to work well.

  4. @Aimee - I think I'm going to try your method tomorrow, adding enough liquid to their food to make a mash. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mine have always enjoyed hard boiled eggs, but it does feel a little cannibalistic, doesn't it? And even if little Starbuck is a roo, have faith. We've lucked into more good pet homes for rooster than you can shake a stick at!

    1. @meryl Yeah, the egg thing either feels cannibalistic, or it makes perfect sense considering that's how they get their nourishment until they hatch. Still feels a little strange though. :)

  6. They're so gorgeous and obviously full of personality! I'm rooting for starbuck to be a girl so you can keep her :)