Tag Archives: raising baby chicks

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“.

Chicks Become Pullets

Chicks become pullets to me when they start to cluck. Mine are starting to cluck. They are also outgrowing their little house.

This bunch is lucky so far. They arrived with cold weather, but only two succumbed.

The chicks survived living in the house for over a week. So did we.

arcana chicks become pullets
Easter Egger chickens are Cackle Hatchery’s arcana mix. I like them and all the different colors they come in. They are flighty. They grow up fast. They always seem to be in a hurry to get places, even when that is only a few feet away.

Outside dangers abound. My rebuilt chick house seems to be working well. No large black snakes or raccoons or possums have managed to invade at night.

Once the chicks feather out, they move into the yard during the day. Opening their door in the morning require care.

The various latches are undone. The chick and people doors are swung open taking care to not be standing in front of them. The chicks explode outward running and flying.

suspicious pullets
Pullets love to get up on anything they think they can stand on. These two found an old bit of chicken mesh originally used to block snakes and now too enmeshed with grass to remove. Buff Orpingtons are a lovely golden buff color. They grow into big, gentle chickens and can be very friendly. The Easter Egger Arcana is convinced the camera is some kind of monster. Typical.

The chick yard is small. By the time the chicks are a quarter grown, they are impatient with a yard now devoid of greenery.

Most years the chicks have lots of grass and other weeds. This year they had dock. Only the stems are left. Chickweed tossed in daily was an anticipated treat.

The next step is to put up a temporary fence. Fifty feet of two foot high one inch chicken mesh with metal electric fence poles works well. Even better is how easy it is to move the fence around.

Grass is now in the diet. Bugs are still something to observe and wonder at. The bugs don’t enjoy such immunity long.

A second roll of fencing has made for a bigger yard. This should be as much as is needed before the chicks move. I consider moving them when the chicks become pullets.

The temporary yard exposes the chicks to many hazards. One inspected a copperhead and got bitten. Chicks, even grown chickens, don’t survive such an encounter.

Crows are in the area as I hear them from time to time and see them flying by. Crows will kill half grown chicks and carry them off to feed their own young.

cochin chicks become pullets
Bantam cochins are cute. Bantams don’t fare well in my flock so I have the standard cochins and like them. They do get big. They are a gentle chicken and always look like a soft pile of feathers.

The small chick yard has a baling twine net over it. The larger yard does not.

So my chicks become pullets and should move to the hen house. Except the big black snakes live there under the barn floor.

The pullets are too big for the snakes to eat. They are not too big for the snakes to try.

I’ve been remodeling the hen house. Maybe the big snake holes are now plugged or covered. Should I take a chance?

The pullets are too big for the chick house.

In “Mistaken Promises” Hazel Whitmore raises some Buff Orpinton pullets and enters them in the county fair.