Rhode Island Pullets Arrive

I grew up with Rhode Island chickens from the time they were taller than I was. This is the first time in many years I’ve ordered Rhode Island pullets for my flock.

These are deep red brown chickens with nice personalities in my memory. They were a heavier chicken. They would get broody in the spring.

Rhode Island pullets
As soon as I open the gate to the chick yard, I hear the patter of tiny feet. Looking in the door windows I can see the chicks standing in the corner. If I crouch down by their area and talk to them, my Rhode Island pullet chicks begin to scatter and get back to eating, drinking, sleeping or running around. While the pullets are young, I put up cardboard barriers to keep them in a small area easier to heat. Once the pullets feather out part way and start acting like they want more space, I will take the barriers down. I do use layers of newspapers on the floor. Each layer is three sheets thick. There are ten or twelve layers on the floor. When the top one is dirty, I can roll it up and the chicks have a clean floor with a minimum of stress to them.

That isn’t true with modern strains. People liked this chicken, but didn’t want them to get broody. They wanted eggs. Their size got smaller.

This year getting any chicks in April has been a challenge. The cold weather in February blasted most of the hatching eggs for Cackle Hatchery so their order list said June.

I like getting pullets in April. The weather is supposed to be warmer. The pullets have all summer to grow up. And they start laying in the fall dropping eggs in the nests all winter.

Nap time for Rhode Island pullet
In years past I’ve started the chicks in a large box in the house. This is the best way in very cold weather. Then I come into the room to find all the chicks laying down sleeping. Young chicks spend a lot of time sleeping. This pullet forgot to lay down. Occasionally this will precede a chick nose diving into the floor.

Through a local feed store, my Rhode Island pullets arrived this week. They are a happy, healthy bunch safely quartered in the chick house under a heat light.

The chicks think the light is too warm. I keep moving it up and focusing it so the chicks have most of their area to enjoy without the, what they consider, excessive heat.

I would reduce the wattage of the bulb except for the weather forecast. A cold front is moving through. The chicks and I will continue to adjust the heat until the cold goes away again.

Rhode Island pullets at drinking area
Over many years I’ve accumulated several chick items. Glass quart water founts are one of these. I like the glass as it is easy to clean. The quart jars are replaceable. While the chicks are small, a single one is enough. Later I will add a second. Once those are emptied in a day, I will go to a small metal fount. Like other birds, chicks fill their beaks with water then lift their heads to swallow.

One of my standard cochin hens is setting on a few eggs. They may hatch. It’s the first time in years I’ve let a hen set eggs. She is happily moved into a cat carrier so the other hens and local black snakes can’t bother her. The door is propped open all day.

My Rhode Island pullets may be joined by some Easter Egger cross chicks in a couple of weeks.

Hazel Whitmore prefers Buff Orpingtons in “Old Promises“.